July 5, 2016
By: Ernie Seevers
On July 5th, Park County citizens met at the Old Saloon in Emigrant. Thirty residents gathered to plan next steps in response to a Riverside Contracting application for an open cut gravel mine and asphalt plant in Paradise Valley. This meeting had been called in order for people of the Paradise Valley to learn more about the progress of Riverside’s mining application and to share concerns for the environmental safety and economic impact of the project which is planned for a site 3 miles south of Emigrant on Highway 89.
The ranchers, anglers, business owners, and environmentalists present all shared a set of common concerns about risks to the safety of residents, and the environment. They were also in agreement about the inappropriateness of a heavy industry project in the heart of Paradise Valley, which is the gateway to the world’s first National Park.
Among the specific concerns were: Toxic materials associated with asphalt production in close proximity to drinking water sources as well as the Yellowstone river, High levels of particulate pollutants in the air, disruption of critical wildlife habitat and migration routes, Destruction of valuable First Peoples buffalo jump sites. Traffic hazards associated with a large number of Trucks entering and leaving the site into 70 MPH flow of traffic on the way to YNP.
Currently the application for the open cut mine project is in an extended review period with the Montana Dept. of Environmental Quality. The extension on the review period is a result of concerns raised by citizens at a public meeting on June 2oth as well as deficiencies in the application file by Riverside. The community members at the most recent meeting intend to use the extension period to organize the community to stop this project. They are working with a law firm as well as professional wildlife, and archeological consultants to help make the case against the Riverside project. Along with the legal strategies residents are committed to lobbying County, State and Federal political representatives.
What’s next? The Montana DEQ has until August 28th to make it’s next decision and to analyze comments from experts and the community. At that time the DEQ is statutorily obligated to make one of three determinations: 1) extend the review for 30 additional days; 2) send a deficiency notice to Riverside Contracting; or, 3) issue the permit.
The community has until August 28th to submit more comments. Learn more about what you can do here: TAKE ACTION.