Director, Carly Ferro, at the summit of Grandeur Peak with her pal Ghost
The way lands are cared for can help us foster healthy communities, increase access to the outdoors, protect critical habitat, and stabilize the climate. But unfortunately, practices like mining have scarred Utah's environment in return for short-term profits, while allowing people and the planet to pay the long-term price: increased health risks, exacerbated climate impacts, and degradation of natural resources.
A project proposed late last year by an organization called Tree Farm LLC intends to mine more than 600 acres along Utah's Wasatch Front. The operation would employ drilling and explosives to mine the area north of Grandeur Peak and Mount Aire for limestone, gravel and metals -- with impacts that would transcend the Wasatch and scar the state's already vulnerable natural resources.
Utah faces a reality that places drought, air quality, and wildfire at the forefront. If approved, this project would pollute the air with fugitive dust and increase traffic emissions; require massive water consumption while leaving water resources vulnerable to pollution, and disrupt wildlife habitat while disregarding the health and environmental risks associated with a new mining project in an already densely populated region.
Salt Lake County has taken action in an effort to protect the public and environment from a devastating fate, and has proposed changes to the planning commission that would adjust the County's Foothills and Canyons Overlay Zone (FCOZ). The amendment would prohibit any mineral extraction, mine, quarry or gravel pit that was used for the removal of “sand, gravel, and/or rock aggregate.” This request was sent to the Mountainous District Planning Commission (MDPC) for review and recommendation for approval. On February 3, 2022, the MDPC conducted a public hearing on the proposed ordinance and heard significant input from the public. The Commission reviewed written public comment submitted prior to the hearing, which was primarily in favor of the proposed ordinance.
After considering this public comment, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposed ordinance and made the following findings in support of its recommendation:
Mineral extraction is incompatible with the stated purposes of the Forestry and Recreation zone and the Foothills and Canyons Overlay Zone. Adverse effects of mineral extraction in the Forestry and Recreation zone would include:
- An increase in air and dust pollution
An increase in noise pollution
A threat to protected watersheds
Depletion of water supply
An increase in wildfire risk
An increased risk of avalanches and rockslides
An increase in traffic
Loss of wildlife habitat
Destruction of the landscape and ecology
Next, the ordinance will move to the Salt Lake County Council for a final decision. As of this writing, February 25, 2022, a meeting date for the Salt Lake County Council has not yet been established. Please stay informed and plan to attend and support future SLCo Planning Commission Meetings. You can tell Council Members that you strongly oppose the proposed mining project in Parley's Canyon, and emphasize that our lands and waters need to be a part of the climate solution. That means holding the industry accountable and eliminating new, wasteful, and pollutive practices that threaten the environment, the economy, and public health.
Interested in supporting our work to advocate for stronger environmental safeguards for Utah's environment? Contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can get involved today!