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Monday, October 10, 2016

Comments due by this Wednesday on proposed quarry expansion threatening ancient forest west of Mt. Baker

COMMENT NOW: Tell the Forest Service DO NOT expand olivine mine!!
 

United Western Supply has proposed expanding an existing olivine rock quarry onto national forest lands including the Mt. Baker West inventoried roadless area in Whatcom County. Located north of the Twin Sisters, the proposal would expand into intact old-growth forests that serve as part of the municipal watershed for the City of Bellingham. The removal of the surface forest, vegetation and soils raises potential water quality concerns for residents and local businesses.

What YOU Can Do!

The Forest Service is asking for public comment on issues that need to be considered in the environmental analysis for the proposed Plan of Operations to expand the SwenLarson Quarry, but only until Wednesday, October 12, 2016. We need your help!

STEP 1: Write an email comment to the Forest Service in your own words asking them to truly consider all the environmental impacts of the quarry expansion. Feel free to reference the talking points provided below.
STEP 2: Send your comment via email no later than THIS Wednesday October 12:
                EMAIL: toddgriffin@fs.fed.us
                SUBJECT: Regarding: Comment on Swen Larsen Quarry Expansion
STEP 3: SHARE this with your conservation-minded friends!

Talking Points
  • Appropriate Environmental Analysis. The level of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis is not indicated in the scoping notice. The Forest Service should perform an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement level of NEPA analysis. 
  • Impacts to Clean and Safe Drinking Water. There are significant concerns about impacts to the quality of water within the Middle Fork Nooksack River, which serves as a source of the safe and clean drinking water supply for more than 85,000 residents of the City of Bellingham. The environmental analysis should look closely at the impacts of sedimentation and releasing of minerals and elements that could be harmful or costly to the drinking water supply for the City of Bellingham.
  • Impacts to Eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers. The area of the proposed expansion includes intact forests including streams that drain clean, cold water into the Middle Fork Nooksack River. The Forest Service is obligated to protect the outstandingly remarkable values of the Middle Fork Nooksack River, found eligible for Wild & Scenic River designation in the 1990 Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest Plan.
  • Impacts to Fish and Fish Habitat. The Nooksack River system supports significant fisheries habitat including coastal cutthroat trout, steelhead, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, bull trout, and Chinook, coho, chum, pink and sockeye salmon. Impacts from the quarry expansion include sedimentation, water temperature variations and increase in minerals or released toxins that could be a concern for fishery health and habitat in the Middle Fork Nooksack River.
  • Impacts to Old-Growth Forest and Roadless Areas.The proposed quarry expansion would include nearly 10 acres of the Mt. Baker West Inventoried Roadless Area. This area of intact old-growth forest is protected by the 2001 National Forest Roadless Area Rule from new road construction. Roaded access and hauling involved in a quarry expansion would violate the Roadless Rule.
Background
For more information on this project read the scoping letter from the Forest Service.

Thanks to our partners at Washington Wild for their help!

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