Environmentalists use the Sage Grouse to thwart the production of Orykta
In 1978, Bill L. Minor was looking forward to an enjoyable fishing trip, soaking up nature’s serenity, while dipping a line in the East Fork of the Walker River. He had flown into a friend’s private airstrip near the high desert foothills of the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, about 40 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, and driven to a favorite fishing spot along the river.
At some point, a local farmer drove up and started chatting. The two got acquainted as Bill leisurely drowned a few worms, discovering they shared the common language of men who loved and valued the land. Later in the day, Bill stopped by the gent’s spread—and was stunned by his host’s amazing garden. Tomatoes bigger than softballs. Zucchini squash 20-24 inches long. Healthy corn standing six feet tall, its stalks laden with large ears.
“How do you get this kind of yield?” Bill asked in awe.
“Just mixed some yellow dirt into the ground,” the farmer smiled, handing Bill a sample. “Works on livestock, too.” Chickens that ate the stuff were laying an abundance of large eggs, and cows were producing milk in record quantities.
“Where’d you find this ‘dirt’?” Bill pressed, inspecting the ochre-colored soil.
“Well, there’s a whole mountain of it out there,” the man said, pointing. “Coupla thousand-foot piles.” The observant gentleman farmer had noticed deer nibbling on the yellowish soil, and figured there had to be a good reason. He’d shot a healthy buck and was impressed by the venison’s taste and high quality. That led to feeding “yellow dirt” to his own animals and working it into the vegetable garden’s soil. Results were astounding.
Bill was more than idly curious. He had grown up in a Missouri farming and ranching family, held a business degree, and had studied agronomy and animal husbandry at the University of California-Davis. He subsequently sent a sample of the intriguing substance to a friend who headed the food science department at the University of Washington. An analysis indicated the innocuous “yellow dirt” was an abundant blend of micro- and macro-mineral elements; chock full of nutrients; naturally buffered and easy for both plants and animals to assimilate; completely free of toxic metals, and had a pH of 4.9 (a measure of soil acidity). In short, it was nearly perfect fertilizer—and 100 percent natural.
A product of prehistoric volcanic activity, the “yellow dirt” is indigenous to Nevada’s Walker River Valley and the only known deposit of soil having such a perfectly balanced composition. Bill promptly secured a long-term lease on 2,500 acres and launched a campaign to explore the attributes of what became known as “Orykta”.
Then all Hell broke loose. In the early 2000s, four Berkeley, California-based women of the Wild Earth Guardians filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service, demanding that a type of sage grouse be added to the list of endangered species. The bird was not indigenous to the high desert region where PMMR’s Orykta mine was located, but that area was included in a wide swath of land covered by the lawsuit.
The U.S. Forest Service immediately constrained Bill’s mining operation to 40,000 tons per year, while it assessed the merits of WEG’s lawsuit. It’s unlikely that anybody from the Santa Fe, New Mexico-headquartered organization ever laid eyes or set foot on the high desert region east of the California-Nevada border, but its agenda was loud and clear. “There are more than 300 million acres of public lands in the 17 western states and our goal is to prevent their capture and destruction by private, extractive interests,” its website declares. Even though the PMMR “mine” wasn’t a pit or bored-tunnel mine, it was still “extractive” and it was “private.”
“I never thought I’d be thwarted by a damned bird,” Bill said.
But he wasn’t beaten. The WEG lawsuit kicked off an incredibly long, expensive battle. Over the next 8.5 years, Bill spent more than a half million dollars trying to comply with U.S. Forest Service requirements, working with five different district rangers and a string of head geologists as they cycled through the Bridgeport, California, USFS office. At one point, the agency attempted to incorporate the Western Yellow Billed Cuckoo into the Guardian’s lawsuit, forcing Bill to spend another $46,000 on a consultant. The fowl expert ventured out to the Orykta mine every morning for months, blew on his bird call, and waited for a response. Not once did a Yellow Billed Cuckoo answer, for a simple reason. None of the endangered birds existed in that region of Nevada.
Today, PMMR has the capacity to process 800 tons of Orykta per hour, and is shipping material to domestic and overseas customers. Research and testing continue, and new applications for Orykta are still being discovered. One potential use is “neutriceuticals,” over-the-counter supplements that are not regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
This video shows the difference that exists between two control lots of pineapples, one control lot (on right of video) with Orykta applied, the other control lot (left) without Orykta application, in San Carlos, Alajuela Costa Rica. One can visibly notice the improved plant height and more robust appearance in the Orykta applied control lot on the right, as compared with that of the non-Orykta on the left.
READ FULL ARTICLE by William B. Scott