Don’t choose Section 35

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At the Lincoln Community Council meeting on March 28, a robust discussion ensued regarding the U.S Forest Service and Department of Environmental Quality’s attempt to identify an alternative site for nearly one million cubic yards of contaminated waste from the Mike Horse Mine (see “Section 35,” March 24, 2011). This marked the first time residents in the upper Blackfoot Valley were able to publicly confront Lincoln District Ranger Amber Kamps about plans to place the repository in our neighborhood.

Everyone at the meeting spoke out against a repository on Section 35, including some council members, with the exception of Kamps.

Still, it sounds like the agencies are going to hold a public meeting with no other reasonable alternatives on the table for a repository than Horse Fly Gulch and Section 35. Amber Kamps flat told the audience they were not going to look outside the Blackfoot watershed. She suggested people contact Leslie Weldon, the regional forester based in Missoula, if they want to change that decision. So on some yet-to-be-determined date in May, they intend to present a detailed cost analysis of their alternatives with no real effort to find anything outside the Blackfoot watershed.

The agencies have said it would be three times as expensive to go over Rogers Pass even though the mine is within two miles of the top of the pass. Kamps could not provide a source for this estimate. Three truckers I know personally say they see little difference in fuel consumption whether hauling east or west over Rogers Pass.

For the first time in public Kamps acknowledged they do not have an agreement to buy from John Baucus and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus the development rights they own on Stimson property—which could effectively eliminate all of their alternatives outside of Paymaster and First Gulch. This would mean they have spent four years and nearly a quarter million dollars investigating Section 35 and Horse Fly Gulch for nothing, not to mention the $700,000 road they constructed last summer which obviously envisions the haul route going further down into the Blackfoot watershed.

Even though their only two current alternatives rest on Stimson property, Kamps denies the “Stimson Land Swap” had any bearing on the decision-making process.

The Lincoln Community Council is going to host a public meeting in May. I would like to encourage people to write to Regional Forester Leslie Weldon and ask that she expand the search area for a repository to sites outside of the Blackfoot watershed.

Mike Grimes

Friends of the Blackfoot

Lincoln

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