Letter: From gravel pits to limestone quarries, it seems like we’re on a suicide mission

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Geneva Rock's operations at Point of the Mountain, straddling Utah and Salt Lake Counties, Tuesday September 22, 2015.

In November we learned that Tree Farm LLC filed a notice of intent to build a 634 acre limestone quarry two miles from the mouth of Parley’s Canyon. On April 5, Salt Lake County banned mining in forestry and recreation areas. The ban drew a lawsuit from Tree Farm. Public health is in a mortal contest with private property rights and at the moment, public health is on the ropes.

The quality of our lives here is already compromised. Our unique geography invites winter inversions that trap harmful pollutants. We are threatened by drought and wildfires. Our valley lakes, the ones with toxic sediment settled into the lake beds, are drying up. We have three huge gravel pits devouring the Wasatch Foothills; one at the Point of the Mountain, another above Wasatch Boulevard, and another in North Salt Lake. We have uncontrolled and irresponsible development voraciously eating up the ground on which we once grew wheat. An inland port will increase pollution and threaten wildlife.

Now we consider and discuss a new mining operation in the area northeast of Grandeur Peak and southwest of Mount Aire that would be one-third the size of the Bingham Copper Mine. The gravel mine currently operating on the opposite slope in Parleys Canyon is only 1.7% of the new proposal. At this point, there has been no risk assessment, but it stands to reason that air, noise, light, dust, diesel fumes, truck traffic, destruction to the landscape and the potential loss of wildlife are all possible outcomes. People living near the existing gravel mines might give anecdotal evidence of daily life living near one of these mines. On a recent night, the Wasatch Range, except for the peaks, was obscured by dust raised by forty mile an hour winds.

I fear we are on a suicide mission and like the myth of lemmings when faced with the psychological impact of population pressure, we are rushing headlong off a cliff to our own demise.

What are we doing here? What are our goals and values? Never mind thinking seven generations out. Given current forces, that seems to be far too much to ask. Let’s think just now about those of us living and rearing children here at this very moment. Maybe with concerted effort, careful attention and important conversations with our representatives and neighbors, we can find a common sense, viable solution to these threats to our health and quality of life. For additional information and to be alerted to developments on the recent proposal, please see SaveParleys.org.

Millie Fletcher, Salt Lake City

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