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About

In November, to the surprise of residents along the Wasatch Front, an article was published in the Salt Lake Tribune on an application filed before the Department of Oil, Gas, and Mining (DOGM) for a 634-acre limestone quarrying and mining operation located in the area northeast of Grandeur Peak and southwest of Mount Aire, approximately two miles from the mouth of Parley’s Canyon.

This proposed mine, filed without any public input, came as a shock to all who care about our water, air, wildlife habitat, and the quality of life for our communities.

What has not been studied or determined, is the safety of the adjacent Mount Aire Community and the ecology of Parleys Canyon. The mine, once dug out, blasted, and hauled away would leave these mountains permanently scarred. This mine will leave residents, recreationists, travelers, and wildlife to live with a degraded mountainside, habitat, water, and air.

 

Why Should Officials Reject this Proposal? 

Misuse of Forestry & Recreation Zone Land

  • The proposed site is located in Salt Lake County’s forestry & recreation zones (FR-20)
  • FR-20’s purpose is to protect these natural & scenic resources for future generations
  • Nothing could be less compatible with protecting these lands than excavating them
  • The Utah Supreme Court issued that opinion in a 2004 ruling against Parleys Quarry

Risk to Air Quality

  • Gravel pits are harmful to air quality due to the volume of fugitive dust they emit

  • This fugitive dust carries toxins such as crystalline silica, which is a carcinogen known to damage lung tissue and function

  • The proposed Parleys Canyon gravel pit would create 220 million pounds of waste in the form of limestone dust powder

  • Despite their best efforts, regularly canyon winds make suppressing fugitive dust nearly impossible for gravel pit operators

Risk to Water Supply

  • Fugitive dust from the proposed gravel pit is not only a threat to our air quality, but also to our increasingly scarce water supply
  • The proposed gravel pit would create a new risk of water pollution whose only defense would create a new risk to the water supply
  • Parleys Canyon, through Mountain Dell Reservoir, Parleys Creek, many springs, is a designated watershed for the Salt Lake Valley
  • The proposed gravel pit would need to use enormous quantities of water in an attempt to suppress the fugitive dust it would create

Risk To Economic Growth

  • Pulverizing our wild canyon foothills into gravel pits that emit hundreds of pounds of fugitive dust is also an economic problem
  • The #1 reason people move to live (and consequently work and invest) in Utah is our unique outdoor recreation resources
  • The #1 reason high-tech employees in the Point of the Mountain area (home to another huge gravel pit) leave Utah is air quality
  • This gravel pit would impair Utah’s #1 economic asset (outdoor recreation) and inflate Utah’s #1 economic liability (air quality)

Vulnerable Communities & Ecosystems

  • While air, water, and economics are critical factors, local communities and ecosystems would be the most severely affected
  • Last summer’s Parleys Canyon wildfire (caused by sparks from one car’s catalytic converter) highlights the area’s wildfire risk
  • Industrializing these 634 acres would elevate wildfire and other physical risks for the neighboring Mt Aire Canyon community
  • This gravel pit would also displace the known presence of elk, moose, black bear, mountain lion, golden eagle and other species

 

About the Proposed Mine:

  • Total disturbed area would be a maximum of 634 acres (Note: one square mile is 640 acres).
  • Parleys Quarry (est 1886), the existing mine in Parleys Canyon, is 11 acres, which is 1.7% the size of the proposed new Parleys Canyon quarry (634 acres).

  • The estimated life of mine is ~100.
  • As a point of reference: the Bingham Copper Mine (since 1906, 116 years) visible from the Salt Lake Valley is 1,900 acres  – this proposed mine would be one-third that size; still an opposing and permanent scar on the mountainside.
  • The Kilgore (old Harper) quarry mine operating on the opposite slope in Parleys Canyon (since 1991) at Exit 131 is only 11.2 acres, which is only 1.7% the size of the proposed.
  • Historically these mines cause increased air and dust pollution, which would affect the Salt Lake Valley’s residents, businesses, schools and public open land.
  • The size and scope of the proposed mine would be the largest mining operation within the Wasatch Front since the establishment of the Point of the Mountain quarry.
  • Potential Environmental Impacts:
  • Pollution including air, noise, light, dust & diesel fumes.
  • No risk assessment has been done for the homes in the Mount Aire Community. Most home properties are within one-quarter to one mile as the crow flies from the proposed mining area.
  • Increased avalanche and rockslides from blasting and crushing operations.
  • Heightened risk of fire with mining and trucking operations.
  • Increased semi-truck traffic on 1-80, estimated at over 140 trucks per day at peak operations.
  • Destruction to the landscape and ecology; and, potential loss of wildlife habitat.
  • Historical Landmarks threatened: Mount Aire Canyon is a historical canyon with designated historical landmarks within the canyon.
  • The current Kilgore gravel quarry in Parleys Canyon has a dismal track record for air quality and causing fugitive dust; and was denied expansion by the Utah Supreme Court in 2004.

Please join us in the fight to protect our canyons of the Wasatch Front.

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