|So far, 1520 people (304.0% of our goal) have sent 6080 e-mail letters
to DENR, and to key decision makers in North Carolina!
Comments period extended to April 30, 2000!
UPDATE 4/21 – State intends to revoke permit!
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources wants to hear your comments about protecting the Roan Highlands area and Appalachian Trail from an open pit gravel mine!
Also see— Additional Photos ~ Article: WRAL 5 On-line
Here’s the situation …
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the agency charged with protecting the environment and natural resources of the state, has issued a mining permit for an open pit gravel mine/quarry (151.36 acres in size) on Belview Mountain in Avery County, North Carolina, a mere 1.5 miles from and within sight of the Appalachian Trail as it crosses the rare Southern balds of the Roan Highlands.
The Roan Highlands balds are spectacular grassy pastures with sweeping views of Grandfather Mountain, Linville Gorge Wilderness, Mount Mitchell, Roan Mountain and Big Grassy (in Tennessee), and Mount Rogers in Virginia. The damage of the mine on Belview Mountain (see above) will be most visible from the Stan Murray Memorial Plaque on Big Hump Mountain, and then heading north on the Trail for approximately thirty minutes of hiking time.
The state Mining Act and the N.C. Appalachian Trail Systems Act directs DENR to protect our public lands in general and the Applachian Trial and its environment in particular. DENR failed to do this when they failed to consider the location of the AT in issuing the permit for the open pit gravel mine on Belview Mountain. Because of this ommission, Mike Easley, the Attorney General, has asked for public hearings to correct this grievious error, and DENR has scheduled a hearing on March 16 at 7pm at the Avery County Courthouse in Newland.
DENR has also agreed to accept e-mail comments into the official record, for those who cannot attend the hearing, and that is the purpose of this on-line letter-writing campaign, to allow everyone to participate.
As part of the hiking/outdoor recreation community,
here’s what you can do to help …
Below, you will find a letter-writing section that will help you compose a letter in your own words and send your comments (which are automatically assembled into the proper format) by e-mail to all of the key decision-makers who will be involved in making the final decision about what to do about the permit for the mine on Belview Mountain, and how best to protect the experience of hiking the AT through the magnificent Roan Highlands. Your comments on this matter will become part of the official DENR hearings.
Our strategy …We will prevail if we can demonstrate that this open pit rock crushing operation will have “a significant adverse effect on the purpose of a publicly owned park, forest, or recreation area” (from the Mining Act). Not all of you can be in the courtroom for the hearings, but through this letter-writing mechanism, you can participate in a very real and tangible way, and your views will be heard. It will require each of you to take a moment to send a meaningful letter, using the letter-writing form provided below. We urge each of you to express your dismay that the AT was ignored in the decision-making process, in clear violation of the General Statues of North Carolina. We can overturn a horrible decision that has the potential to destroy the hiking experience on the nation’s premier recreational footpath over Roan Highlands, and will seriously degrade the recreational value and natural heritage of a large region of the surrounding North Carolina mountains!
Our goal …We need hundreds of people sending letters to have a realistic chance of influencing the final decision made by DENR, which means we need you. We also need you to write your letter from your heart, and in your own words. Write it for yourself and write it for the generations to follow. If we let this incursion eat away at the Trail without trying to stop it, in a very short time we could lose the wilderness experience on all of Roan Highlands. The state has already admitted that it did not follow the NC Appalachian Trail Systems Act, which directs DENR to consider the “environment” of the Appalachian Trail in all its decision-making and permitting process. Now we must show that crushing gravel in the viewshed, and within earshot, of our precious Trail will cause “a significant adverse effect” on the purpose of the trail itself. In the public hearings, it is your voice, speaking to this issue, that will make the difference, and we need the immediate participation of both your and your friends. We have a very good chance of having the permit for the mine revoked, but we must act now!
How to write and send your comments by e-mail …Instructions for using letter-writing form … The letter-writing form below will help you compose a personal letter that will allow you to share your comments about the open pit gravel mine on Belview Mountain in your own words and will assemble your comments into standard letter form and send your letter via e-mail (with your e-mail as the return address) to the important decision makers at NC DENR [Tracy Davis (State Mining Specialist, Land Quality Section, NC DENR), Bill Holman (Secretary, NC DENR), and Mike Easley (Attorney General, State of North Carolina)], all done automatically when you click on “Submit Comments” below. A copy of your letter will be sent to your mailbox for your records.
It is important that you follow all instructions exactly and that you send your comments in your own words using the prompts given below for each form field. Please do not use all capital letters, and sign your name only in the “name” field provided at the end of this form. In case you are wondering, no comments are added to your comments. They are sent as is!
Step 1: Choose the statement that best sums up your position on the open pit gravel mine on Belview Mountain … (appended to your letter will be a statement asking that your comments be recorded as being in favor of the alternative you select below)
-I favor revoking the mining permit because of the “significant adverse effect” an open pit gravel mine will have on the experience of using the AT.
-I favor protecting the mine operator’s right to operate an open pit gravel mine even if it negatively impacts the hiking experience on the AT.
Step 2: In your own words, introduce yourself (give full name, hometown and state) and briefly tell about your past, present, and/or future plans to hike the AT or visit the North Carolina mountains for outdoor recreation.
Step 3: In your own words tell why you hike the Appalachian Trail. Tell why you think the Trail is important, and explain what experience you are you seeking when you hike the AT. If you have hiked the bald peaks of the Roan Highlands section, be sure to tell about your personal experiences in this area when you hiked. If you haven’t hiked this section, mention why you are looking forward to hiking it.
Step 4: In your own words, state that the 151-acre surface mine/rock crushing quarry/open gravel pit (use your own description) on Belview Mountain adjacent to the Appalachian Trail will have a “significant adverse effect” on your experience on the AT and in the mountains. State the importance of peace and quiet and viewshed to your enjoyment of the Trail. Be sure to state that you are dismayed that the AT was overlooked in the permit process, and plainly state that you want the mine permit revoked; this is very important in the way DENR will weigh your comments! Do not “sign” your name in this field.
Step 5: “Sign” your name, mailing address, city, state, Zip Code, and e-mail address. It is important that you give complete information here, since unsigned or partially signed letters will not receive consideration nor be included in the public record of comments.Your real name (no Trail names, please!):
Your mailing (street) address:
Your city (hometown):
Your ZIP code:
Your complete e-mail address (e.g., JohnDoe@aol.com):
|IT MAY TAKE A MINUTE OR TWO FOR PROCESSING, SO PLEASE WAIT while your comments seeking revocation of the permit for an open pit gravel mine on Belview Mountain are being sent as customized individual e-mail messages to the following key decision makers: Tracy Davis (State Mining Specialist, Land Quality Section, NC DENR), Bill Holman (Secretary, NC DENR), and Mike Easley (Attorney General, State of North Carolina). You comments will be entered into the official DENR record as part of the public hearings; you will also receive a copy of your comments in your mailbox for your personal records.
Do not click “Submit Comments” button more than once. Allow time for processing!
Electronic letter-writing services provided by Center for Appalachian Trail Studies ~ Hot Springs, North Carolina