The East Fork Community Coalition (EFCC) is a grassroots nonprofit group dedicated to protecting the East Fork of the Lewis River, its valley, our homes and families.
To be clear, we are not opposed to mining or development. Many of us use the products of local quarries. Our concerns relate to the operation of a single quarry. We want the industry and the local residents to co-exist, as we did until a few years ago. At that time, there was a resurgence in construction in Clark County. To the detriment of the residents and the environment, the balance shifted toward the gravel industry.
The quarry of concern operates in Clark County, Washington, 40 miles north of Portland, Oregon. The East Fork of the Lewis River is a popular tourist destination for families, recreation, and fishing. The restored wild gene bank of steelhead in the river below the quarry also hosts 3 other threatened and endangered species of salmonids. The East Fork, Moulton Falls, and Lucia Falls flow below a gravel quarry. The quarry is Yacolt Mountain Quarry (YMQ), aka Mountain Top Quarry. The quarry is applying to expand.
Scientists have validated County residents’ fears concerning the quarry, including:
Need for an environmental review, SEPA
Surface and groundwater pollution
Trucks and roadways
History of non-Compliance and lack of County monitoring and code enforcement
Regardless of forums exposing concerns of County residents and the operator, the quarry is still moving ahead with its application to expand the areas of surface mountain overlay (SMO) and, eventually, mining of the SMO area. We could use your help to preserve this irreplaceable asset.
There are over 7,000 people living within two miles of the YMQ. Many of them were concerned with the permitting of the YMQ in 2002 and the impact the quarry would have on their lives as well as the East Fork of the Lewis River. The County’s planning has allowed significant industry in close proximity to residential development. Many of the concerns voiced in 2002 have been realized. The proposed expansion has the potential to increase the negative impact of the YMQ on the citizens in the area and on the environment. The County’s failure to enforce the provisions of the existing Conditional Use Permit (CUP), County codes and state laws only increases concerns about expansion of the quarry and the rigor with which the County will review and oversee the proposed expansion.
The original 120 Conditions of approval stated in the CUP are available on the County website. https://clark.wa.gov/code-administration/yacolt-mountain-quarry under the link “PSR202-00015, CUP2002-00003”
The closer one lives to the YMQ, the greater the impact of the quarry. For the average County resident, the negative impacts are relatively minor, for example, dust blowing off trucks and occasional chipped or broken windshields. For those living close to the quarry the negative impacts are frequent, significant, and sometimes frightening. It should be noted that those impacts are not an inevitable consequence of quarry operations. There are quarries in the County where the local residents and the quarry operators have relatively amicable and supportive relationships.
Residents living on Gabriel Road and Kelly Road, which lead from the quarry, must deal with roads that are inadequate to handle the burden of quarry traffic. Thirty truck-and- trailer combinations travel each hour and in each direction, for 14 hours per day during busy periods. As a result, roads are noisy, dangerous, and in constant disrepair. Parents with school children worry about trucks and school buses sharing the windy narrow roadways. Many worry about the way heavy truck-and-trailer combinations cross center lines on curves or may lose control on downhill stretches. Dust, noise from compression brakes, and spilled gravel are part of everyday life on these roads. Conditions are nearly unbearable under these conditions.
Residents more than two miles from the quarry have been awakened in their bedrooms by noise from the quarry, including rock crushing and blasting. The noise is not constant. It seems to vary with atmospheric conditions and quarry activities. The unpredictability of the noise at any particular location makes enforcement of current regulations difficult. There is also concern about the effect of the noise on the health of the people in the community. A growing body of scientific study indicates that the noise levels coming from a quarry can have a harmful effect on human health.
Surface and groundwater impacts are additional concerns. Although there is no proof mining is responsible, wells in the vicinity of the mine have stopped producing. While some homes in the area have elected to incur the considerable expense of hooking up to the public water supply, there are still many who depend solely upon wells for their water. There is concern about the effect of quarry expansion on ground water in the area. There is currently a program in place that purports to monitor water levels in area wells, but there is no program to monitor water quality and feedback to the community on test results is poor. Runoff from the quarry’s operations have historically discharged crusher slurry into the tributaries of the East Fork either through contamination of haul roads or from settling pond outflows
The above stated concerns are explained further and supported under each topic of the EFCC website.