Letter, March 5, 2014

Preserving our landscape

Re: Opposed to permitting of the Rhiner quarry

 

We hope that others in the community will join with us in protesting the permitting of the Rhiner quarry.

Over the past several decades, the people of Sheridan County have participated in the development of a Comprehensive Plan. This plan is in large part dedicated to the conservation and preservation of our agricultural base and to the preservation of the open range views along the Bighorn Mountain foothills.

We are dismayed that the county planning office with County Planner Mark Reid would even consider a 156 acre quarry application in this area without clear and overwhelming evidence of some major economic or cultural necessity that would supersede the basic tenants of the Comprehensive Plan.

The proposed quarry will be situated right in the middle of the greater Banner community made up of small ranchers devoted to agricultural operations. The quarry site will be in the heart of a broad irrigable grass land. It will sit below Red Cloud point on Moncrieffe Ridge where, according to legend, Red Cloud observed the activity on the Bozeman Trail and planned the Fetterman massacre. The gravel pit is essentially right in the center of our history and would forever change the landscape.

Where is the overriding need? What market justifies such degradation? What is the gravel and stone reserve? Is it sufficient for a productive and profitable quarry? Will this be another high grade fly-by-night open pit job that will operate for a couple of seasons and go broke leaving another unreclaimed pit? What provisions have been made for bonding? Where is the mine plan? Have the air quality, water quality and noise control plans been reviewed and submitted by a professional engineer?

How about external impacts? What provisions have been made to widen and reengineer the County road 28 (Bird Farm Road) for safe travel. You cannot seriously think that this road in its current narrow state would support 20-ton rock trucks traveling in conjunction with the multitude of horse trailers? Is it your intention to subsidize this operation by rebuilding the road on the backs of the taxpayers?

Considering the historical, cultural, environmental and economic impacts on the surrounding community, the application and review are superficial at best, and reflect the lack of expertise and time necessary for the county planning office to properly evaluate an operation of this size. If the application in its current state is approved, it is entirely possible that Sheridan County will be exposed to immediate and ongoing litigation.

We ask that Sheridan County Planning and Zoning Commission at their hearing on March 6 delay any further consideration of the quarry application until such time as it has been reviewed by the professional environmental staff at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.

 

J.M. and J.L. Wilson

Sheridan


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