FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Utahns Oppose Gravel Pit Expansion That Would Scar Parley’s Canyon
Legislator Working to Fast-Track HB 527 Bill, Bypass County Land Use Authority
SALT LAKE CITY – Feb. 21, 2023 – More than 26,800 Utahns signed a petition last spring opposing a new 635-acre open pit limestone quarry in Parley’s Canyon. But despite that widespread opposition, Rep. Kevin Stratton of Orem is now sponsoring HB 527, which would allow the project to not only bypass Salt Lake County’s land use authority but massively expand the acreage in Parleys Canyon that would similarly be subject to long-term mining activity and the permanent scarring that would result.
Save Parleys (SaveParleys.org) is an informal grassroots group of citizens that generated the petition to Utah Governor Spencer Cox, asking him to reject the quarry’s permit before the Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining (DOGM) early last year. DOGM went ahead and approved an initial permit for a 20-acre quarry, but the developer’s stated plans are to expand the gravel pit to at least 635 acres or one square mile – the excavation of much of the northeast slope of Grandeur Peak. With HB 527, that excavation could get even larger.
“Imagine driving through a scarred landscape with a giant open pit mine, instead of the breathtaking greenbelt gateway to Summit County and Utah’s Olympic venues,” said Brenda Reiss-Brennan a Save Parleys advocate and homeowner in nearby Mountair Canyon. “This area should be off the table for any new mining. We who love the Wasatch Mountains must do everything in our power to convince our legislators to protect the historic structures and natural beauty of this area and preserve this precious land for generations to come.”
HB 527 would confer a newly defined vested mining status, not only on the Tree Farm LLC and Granite Construction’s proposed 635-acre open pit limestone quarry site in Parleys Canyon, but also the hundreds of acres of adjacent property they and their associates control up and down both sides of I-80 in Parleys Canyon.
Last January, Salt Lake County drafted a revision to its zoning ordinance for the Wasatch canyons, prohibiting conditional use permits for new mining activity. The zoning change was supported unanimously by the Central Wasatch Commission, which is comprised of several mayors and county council members whose jurisdictions include the Wasatch Mountains.
During three public hearings held in early 2022 by County planning commissions and the County Council, neither Tree Farm’s Jesse Lassley nor Granite Construction submitted any comments in opposition to the zoning change. After it was adopted by the Council in April, Lassley challenged the legality of the zoning change in Third District Court. This change in the law would likely change the outcome of that pending court case.
“It’s true that population growth along the Wasatch Front will require limestone aggregate material for new construction,” said Sam Dunham, who has been gathering historical photos and stories of the area to support the creation of a National Historic District. “But as Lake Bonneville receded, it left limestone deposits all over northern Utah. There are many other sites, just as close to where the aggregate will be needed, that would have less impact on homeowners, families, air quality, water supplies, recreation, wildlife, and scenery.”
The $3 billion California-based Granite Construction operates in 27 states, Canada and Mexico, including several aggregate and asphalt facilities in Utah. Their website promotes their commitment to sustainability, including the responsible stewardship of air, water, land, and biodiversity.
“Granite’s behavior in advancing the Parley’s quarry proposal has been dismissive of the local community’s value the Wasatch Mountains and has revealed their disregard for one of Utah’s most important quality-of-life assets,” said Reiss-Brennan. “They won’t attend meetings or engage in dialogue, demonstrating a striking lack of interest in our community’s input. There is a clear discrepancy in the values stated by Granite’s headquarters in California and their way they pursue projects in Utah.”
Save Parleys’ supporters are asking their legislators to vote against HB 527 as it moves through the process.
“The Legislature’s job is to set statewide policy,” said Dunham. “It is not to pick individual winners and losers when it comes to local projects.”
SaveParleys.org represents a collaboration of individuals and organizations dedicated to saving Parleys Canyon from destructive development and exploitation. For more information, visit saveparleys.org or any of the following:
- A 2:33 min. video by Sam Dunham: https://vimeo.com/799296123
- Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SaveParleys/
- Instagram: SaveParleys
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/saveparleys
- Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/spencer-j-cox-protect-parleys-canyon-and-the-wasatch-front
- Go-Fund-Me page: https://gofund.me/92b2ca8b