After carefully reviewing Hard Rock Paving and Redi-Mix’s proposed expansion onto 50 additional acres of BLM land, I have become alarmed and strongly opposed to such an expansion onto public land in our neighborhood and community.
This proposed area is currently a beautiful landscape of hills, heavily forested with pinon and juniper trees. It is discomforting, to say the least to think of watching as this forested area is cleared of all vegetation and the resulting noise, plumes of various forms of airborne particulates, and diesel fumes rising high into the air from their newly-developed area.
The proposed expansion will have a negative impact on wildlife habitat in the area. Species currently inhabiting the proposed expansion area include deer, mountain lion, bobcat, fox, coyote, raccoon, numerous bird species such as owl, bluebirds, jays, robins, hummingbirds, along with migrating elk.
I have public safety concerns as well. CR 107/108 is the only access road in and out of several residential developments on the north side of Methodist Mountain. It is also the only road that exists for access to the area by emergency services such as firefighters and ambulance medical staff.
The proposed expansion is adjacent and at certain locations on both sides of CR 108. This road currently experiences significant pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular traffic, including use by the Salida High School track team in the Spring and their Cross Country team in the Fall. This also includes numerous recreational users of the mountain bike and hiking trails in the Methodist Mountain area. On weekends, there can be several hundred people using the trails, accessing them either by walking, riding, or driving on CR 108. Increased heavy truck traffic, along with the commensurate increase in air pollution along this corridor, would represent serious safety risks for these users. In addition, this road does not have a shoulder on either side anywhere along its length, making recreational transit on it alongside the increased number of 50,000-pound plus trucks even riskier.
During this last week of living, hiking, and driving in this area, I’ve noticed large plumes of dust from the quarry rise hundreds of feet in the air. I’ve listened to friends, who accessed Salida Mountain Trails Solstice Trail from town, express nervousness and discomfort with the frequency of trucks passing them. During my usual trips to town driving among five or more large trucks coming and going from the quarry, I’ve noticed trails of dust, rocks, and dirt in their wake. When hiking from the west along Spartan East Trail, the sight of the large footprint of devastation from the current quarry is heartbreaking. Is this the legacy we want to leave for our children and the community?
In my experience, Hard Rock has not been a good neighbor. If you would like to protect Methodist Mountain from more mining, please send your comments by Sept. 30 to BLM at www.go.usa.gov/xf5TN.