Huxley College Graduate and Undergraduate Publications

College Affiliation

Huxley College of the Environment

Department or Program Affiliation

Department of Environmental Studies

Abstract

The purpose of this Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is to evaluate the potential impacts of future mineral extraction for the 280 acre expansion of MRL designation and zoning overlay, proposed for amendment within the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map. If the amendments were to be accepted, the 280 acre expansion will be mined for gravel and aggregate by Burlington based company, Concrete Nor'West. This EIA investigates the environmental impacts associated with the proposed action, an alternative action and again for a no action alternative. Impact analysis has been performed in accordance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The applicant is proposing the amendment to the WCCP and Zoning Map to change an existing 280 acre Commercial Forestry zone with a Commercial Forestry designation to an MRL designation and zoning overlay. The proposed 280 acre expansion is adjacent to an inactive gravel pit and is located off of Doran and Bowman roads just South of Acme. The amendment to the WCCP and Zoning Map would result in the 280 acres being mined for gravel and other aggregates. The alternative proposal is to not mine the entire 280 acres but to protect Habitat Conservation Areas (HCA's) and wetland as well as reclaiming already exhausted sites and sections of the expanded site as they become exhausted. This would minimize disturbance and impacts of mining processes on the natural and built environments as well as provide some mitigation to those impacts that remain unavoidable. The last option would be to not go through with the proposed amendments, leaving all existing conditions in place. This would mean that the proposed 280 acre expansion would not be actively mined and instead left as Commercial Forestry area. The impacts of the proposed South Fork Nooksack Gravel Mine are assessed by impact category in the following report. The categories of significant environmental impacts are organized by sections of Natural Environment, Built Environment, and Environmental Health. Impacts we have determined to be most significant fall under the Natural Environment heading, due mostly in part by the general stress on the land mining operations entail. The proposed development would require removal of topsoil and existing vegetation on mining sites as well as the disturbance of topsoil and existing vegetation on sites not being actively mined. During the construction of the mine and the process of actively mining for gravel and other aggregates an increase in on-site transportation will occur in the area, which will cause loosening and compaction of soils as well as a reduction in air quality. Water quality is another factor that may be impacted by mining practices, this includes surface water, wetland habitat, flooding regimes, and groundwater. The proposed mine expansion will have detrimental effects to wildlife and habitat which is intrinsically valuable as well as being a cultural resource to the Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Tribe. The Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Tribe also consider this area an archeological site which makes an archeological survey necessary prior to the mining of the site. At the end of this document you will find a summary of our findings and the recommendation we have developed for the proposal, which is first highlighted in the Decision Matrix found at the end of Section 1.

Document Type

Environmental Impact Assessment

Subject – LCSH (for OAI)

Sand and gravel plants--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Acme; Environmental impact analysis--Washington (State)--Acme

Geographic Coverage

Acme (Wash.)

Genre/Form

Environmental impact statement

Publisher

Western Washington University

Date

Winter 2012

First Advisor

Bodensteiner, Leo R.,

OCLC Number

789673384

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Date Permissions signed

3-9-2012

Type

Text

Format

application/pdf

Language

English

Department

Environmental Studies

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