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Letter to the editor: Pozzolan mine location is critical watershed for Williams

We’re writing to raise awareness and express concern with the proposed surface mining of pozzolan on Bill Williams Mountain by Drake Cement, a subsidiary of Peru-based UNACEM.

Drake Cement has mining claims on 850 acres and intends to apply for Plan(s) of Operation with the Kaibab National Forest to develop open pit mine(s) west of the Perkinsville Road 3 miles south of Williams, a location of great ecological, cultural and recreational value.

The claims are bisected by the Benham National Recreation Trail that has for decades provided outstanding opportunities to hike, ride horses or bike through the forest to the top of Bill Williams Mountain. The Benham Trail was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1978 because of its high caliber character and ability to provide healthy recreation opportunities and economic development through tourism to our rural community. Any proposed surface mining in the vicinity of this trail is an unacceptable threat to these characteristics.

The claims are located within the critical watershed providing water to the citizens and businesses of Williams. Our federal, state and county governments continue to spend millions of dollars to protect this watershed from wildfire. The risk a wildfire on Bill Williams Mountain presents is the destruction of vegetation and exposure of bare ground leading to flooding, erosion, and catastrophic impacts to water quality. We consider open pit mining of pozzolan within this watershed to be of equivalent unacceptable risk and results as it would involve the removal of vegetative cover over a large area and leave bare ground exposed for decades.

The operations necessary for extracting, separating, storing and transporting pozzolan from this location would unacceptably damage the natural and social environment of the entire east side of Bill Williams Mountain for the foreseeable future. Locals have established homes adjacent-to or in the vicinity of Drake Cement’s claims. Many people come to the area to hike, camp, hunt, drive and enjoy and benefit from the quiet and scenery of the forest. There is no way to mitigate the long-duration negative impacts of the increased traffic, dust and noise from these operations on the neighbors, locals and visitors.

We encourage people to stay aware of the impending permitting process through the Kaibab NF and be prepared to engage and share their opinion and expertise to the analysis of the very damaging proposal to be made by Drake Cement.

~John and Eileen Eavis

Williams

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