The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will hold a public hearing on appeals made by local environmental groups to county staff's approval of the proposed Halvorsen Quarry Reclamation Plan.
According to a county report, Planning and Building Department staff recommend that the board reject three of five appeals that were made by Humboldt Baykeeper and California Trout following the plan's approval by the county Planning Commission in a 6-1 vote in May.
”We believe the plan is not adequate to protect the coho salmon habitat in the stream,” Humboldt Baykeeper Policy Director Jennifer Kalt said.
The Halvorsen Quarry, currently owned by Eureka business Ryan Schneider Construction, is located along Rocky Creek Road near Bayside. According to the proposed plan, the site has been mined intermittently since at least the 1940s, and future phases include stripping topsoil, drilling exposed rock and blasting. All surface water is diverted to a series of settlement ponds that capture sediment and debris run-off.
The appeals request that the plan include a complete erosion and sediment strategy, publicly available independent water testing in Rocky Creek, documentation of appropriated water permits, specified protections for bald eagles and revisions to the Mitigated Negative Declaration.
”We're not trying to shut down the quarry,” Kalt said. “The rock from the quarry can be used to reinforce dirt roads which prevents other sediment from getting into streams.”
While staff recommend that the board approve the request to include an erosion strategy and independent water testing, a county report states that documentation of water quality permits and protections for threatened or endangered birds have been included in the county's revised Conditions of Approval. It also states that staff recommend denying the appeal to revise the Mitigated Negative Declaration because ,”no new significant impacts have been identified.”
The groups argue the Mitigated Negative Declaration -- a legal statement that no significant effects on the environment will occur -- cannot be certified because it does not account for mitigating impacts to water quality.
County staff argue that impacts would normally be mitigated by a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, but one is not required in this case because the mine is operated for personal use, not commercial.
At the Oct. 1 public hearing, county counsel and planning staff asked for more time to review information sent by the North Coast Regional Water Control Board less than a day before, saying they would need a minimum of two weeks to look it over.
The board voted to continue the hearing, but set a deadline of Oct. 31 for parties to submit any more information.
In a letter dated Nov. 20, the Humboldt Baykeeper Executive Director Jessica Hall and California Trout North Coast Manager Darren Mierau state that Schneider is making commercial sales.
Kalt said Bayside residents photographed trucks from Arcata's Alves Inc. entering and leaving the quarry on Nov. 1 and Nov. 4. The photographs were forwarded to the county with the letter.
According to a supplemental information packet attached to the board's online agenda, Ryan Schneider responded to the letter via email on Nov. 21. On Nov. 25, the county Planning Division sent a letter requesting a formal response, which was received a day later.
The email, the county letter and response were not made available online by the Times-Standard deadline.