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open sore on Bitterroot East Fork

As I mentioned on June 17th in Californicating Conner, the neighbors recently discovered via the word-of-mouth grapevine that permission to run a 300,000 cubic yard gravel crushing operation is being requested along the river.

The full 47-page .pdf application is here:
OPENCUT MINING PLAN OF OPERATION AND APPLICATION #2679

I telephoned DEQ and was told they prefer comments to come to them via e-mail at:
[email protected]

This is my first go at this, but in my e-mail I will be referring to application #2679 AND listing the operator as M Parkinson & Co Inc with location of Trinity Ranch. Feel free to use any ideas or phrases from this post that tickle your fancy.

lane on the right must be expanded to handle 21,000 dump truck loads

the lane above the right bank must be expanded to handle 21,000 dump truck loads

The crucial nature of the Bitterroot to the whole valley’s ecosystem, its pristine East Fork, the prized world-renowned fly fishing … all these are at risk for one man’s short-term profit.

I live by the base of the 100-foot ridge that drops steeply to meet the river. Some time long past, a 1-lane road was carved above the flood-line skirting the ridge by the river. Vegetation along both sides of that road include 30-50 foot pines, cottonwoods, chokecherries, wild rose, firs and a wide variety of annuals, perennials, moss and lichen.

The road serves two homes on the river and as a back entrance to Trinity Ranch. It also runs through two other yards on deeded 20-foot easements that include both utility and road access. Adjacent to those properties and easements is a 9-space park with 8 families in single and double-wide mobile homes and one in a manufactured home.

On both sides of the East Fork from Conner to Sula are residents who prize the harmony and tranquility of their river view settings. A 300,000 cubic yard crushing and screening operation would destroy that. This is not an industrial zone, sparsely inhabited or any way lacking in natural beauty.

While the directions to the site in permit application part B1 list the one-lane bridge south of Conner as the access, it will not by the bridge owner’s permission, nor by its design handle truck traffic.

Quite similarly, to make the 12-foot-wide dirt and gravel road along the river suitable for two-lane truck traffic, it would have to be completely changed in nature, eat massively into the hillside, have serious negative impacts on the neighborhood, and may not fit within the deeded easements. It is this second road that is listed on submitted maps as “Access Road #1”.

Permit part C3 regarding access roads claims “the other access road is within 500 feet of the west side of the East Fork of the Bitterroot River”. While literally true, that’s a bit disingenuous. The road is 10-feet above and 10-feet to the west of the river at normal summertime water levels. That impact is far more consequential than the application implies.

Part C6 says there will be markers in place on access roads when DEQ receives the permit application. There are none, nor has there ever been.

In part D2 he checked that water use would be for dust control AND also checked that no water will be needed. Does that mean no attempt at dust control? Seems a bit unneighborly.

Speaking of unneighborly, if it weren’t for a chance discovery and the neighbors sharing information amongst themselves, none of us would know of this plan to dramatically change the world we live in every day – by a man who visits a few times a year.

Maybe he should be running all those trucks by the two houses on his ranch that he calls “unnocupied” and the one “part-time occupancy house”…

or does he visit the Bitterroot for the peace and tranquility?