Northwest NEWS

February 28, 2000

Editorial

Quarry deserves to be opposed

   In response to an editorial comment in the Feb. 22 issue, I just had to write. As a lifetime resident of the area (almost 50 years), I agree there was a time when clearcutting and logging trucks roaring through town were an everyday occurrence and few dared speak against it.

   But to say people are against rock quarries isn't exactly correct. Along with modern medicine, dentistry and wall to wall carpeting, low cost gravel has to rank as one of the top 10 achievements of the 20th century. We want gravel and we're willing to pay for it, as long as we know what the real price is!

   The past, continued--For the better part of the last 100 years, environmentally insensitive opportunists and industrialists have raped the land and taken what they wanted, pretty much free of charge. In fact, many of the great financial fortunes accumulated in the early years of industrialization--which included logging and mining--did so with little or no interference from government regulation. Agencies like the IRS, the Dept. of Ecology, or Labor & Industries weren't around to slap their hands. Furthermore, they didn't have a large number of well-educated environmentally savvy middle class people to contend with.

   Although government regulation may not solve all the problems, the absence of such regulation can be seen in hundreds of examples around the earth--places like South America, where logging trucks roar through towns; places where oceans and rivers, once teeming with life, are no more than burial grounds for worn-out bias-ply tires; places where extreme environmental damage is taking place, simply because "that's the way we do things around here."

   The absence of objection is not the license for environmental destruction. Today, people are concerned about land use, and they want to know what the impacts are. That hasn't always been true in the past.

   Can we count on the county?--Fortunately, we live in an area where private ownership does not entitle a person to do whatever they like with their land, regardless of community or ecological impact, no matter how the financial gains may be justified. For the most part, government regulation does not stop a person from building a home, raising crops, or keeping animals--activities that, in themselves, have minimal impacts.

   On the other hand, gravel pits, garbage dumps, nuclear reactors, expanded polystyrene plastic containers, and commercial airports have everlasting impacts that usually outlive their architects and leave the living to figure out a solution. The days of "Let's make a lot of money and leave the problems for somebody else to fix" are rapidly diminishing.

   Why do residents oppose a quarry? Aren't they friendly?

   To say that residents of Duvall object to the rock quarry because they have no financial interest demonstrates a lack of knowledge regarding this issue. The nucleus of the opposition started when a landowner with adjacent property zoned residential, by a single serendipitous event, found out that their neighbor was applying for a permit to create an 80-acre environmental disaster with a 60-year lifespan. Can you really say a project of that magnitude isn't going to have a financial impact? Is it reasonable to say that if adjoining landowners were profiting from this quarry that they would somehow support it?

   This is not an issue of trying to tell a person what they can or cannot do with their land. That's why we have environmental laws and governmental regulation. The quarry site was zoned without public notification or disclosure to the adjoining landowners--an event that cannot of itself be reversed due to the regulation.

   How ironic, that a failure to notify (which is illegal) is made valid because property owners did not object during the 60-day period allowed. Had the community been properly notified, the owner would have had to demonstrate by formal study that the land had no residential or agricultural potential, and that it's only possible and reasonable use would be mineral. In all fairness to the community and those who have invested their life savings and hard work in their homes, the quarry developers deserve to be opposed every step of the way.

   Private land, public trust--If they succeed in getting a permit, then there is little any of the residents can do about it. However, it is our duty as a community to ensure that governmental regulations are observed, that whatever impacts are deemed by an EIS are mitigated to the fullest extent possible.

   No one is saying that rock quarries are evil. What they are saying about this is that the site is not appropriate for a quarry because the impacts are so severe they cannot be reasonably mitigated. A quarry requires a much larger site, away from wetlands and on flatter grounds. Furthermore, the owner has yet to demonstrate that quality rock is obtainable.

   A local organization made up of adjoining landowners and concerned citizens has recently attained a "non-profit" status. As a citizen, realize that when land goes beyond the scope of providing a single family residence, that severe, long-lasting impacts may result. Although land is privately held, it is a public trust to ensure the proper use of that land. No one, by simply purchasing a parcel of land, is automatically entitled to make a huge profit because they are personally willing to sacrifice the environment.

   Contact the "Friends of Cherry Valley" and offer your support. Call 425-844-1419.

Name withheld by request.