Transition Whatcom

TIME SENSITIVE: 2 rivers and several good farms need your help

I am reposting this call to action from our friends at Sunseed Farm:

Greetings from the chilly South Fork Valley,

I'm going to say right off the top that I'm emailing to ask you a favor. Realizing that life is full, and there are infinite calls to action, I'm hoping that you might be willing to take a few minutes to send an email commenting on a HUGE proposed change to our neck of the woods. At the end of this email is the quick/concise version of how you can help with just a couple of minutes of your time. The deadline for comments is Tuesday Dec. 14th.

The Problem
Concrete Nor'west Has a proposal before Whatcom County Planning, and the County Council to create a 300+ acre open pit strip mine for sand and gravel on Saxon Road, directly across the street from several small, intensive and sustainable family farms, including ours. For those of you who have not spent time near a gravel mine--they are very loud, very dusty, and have a substantial impact on water table level and quality. This would be devastating to our livelihoods as it would immediately impact our ability to draw customers to to this quiet, scenic valley to u-pickSunseed Farm berries or connect first hand with Osprey Hill Farms free range poultry, do work trades at Uprising Organics, etc. For most of these farms, the reality of being down wind will mean serious issues with mining dust coating our produce, equipment, and greenhouses. Eventually, we may succumb to the fate that many pit mine neighbors have, and wind up with contaminated or dry wells.

Ultimately of far more consequence, is the fact that this proposed mining operation straddles two different, ecologically sensitive watersheds. The last thing that either the Nooksack or Sumas rivers need is pollutants and sediment flows from a vast mining operation. The counties, the state, and the federal government have all put substantial resources into rehabilitating this salmon habitat, and it's not the time to erase that progress.

The county has issued a statement saying that changing the zoning from forestry to mining is not environmentally significant. Now they are accepting comments. We need to make sure that they do a full SEPA review.

How you can help, the basics:

Please take a few minutes to draft an email to: Tschroed@co.whatcom.wa.us

In it's simplest, very helpful version, it just needs to address the zoning change and needs to say that :

The county's decision not to require an EIS for file SEP2009-00132 is flawed because this is a project specific zoning change proposal. The zoning and the project uses of the land are inseparable. Once the zoning is changed, the county will be bound to approve projects that meet the criteria of the new zoning, and so a full SEPA review of the proposal area is required at this stage.

It should probably be started "to whom it may concern" or "to county planners" or "dear county planners", and include your name and address.

It probably wouldn't hurt to changed the wording somewhat, but copy/paste is also fine.

The extended version:

If you have more time/interest, you could also include details about why the proposed project sounds like a bad idea--protecting aquifers, protecting local farms, unsuitability of siting an open pit mine next to two rivers that are undergoing expensive restoration efforts, etc. At this point though, the most important thing is to contest the county's contention that no environmental review is required for the zoning change.

Still got a desire to lend a hand?

Feel free to forward this to friends if you know someone who might be willing to help out.

Thank you so much--I hope you are all warm, healthy, and happy,

Nick Guilford
Sunseed Farm

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