Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax
July 1, 2003
Daniel Boone National Forest
761 S. Laurel Road
London, Kentucky 40744 by email to
Re: Scoping: Reissuance of Contract For
Sale of Minerals for Indian Creek Limestone Quarry
Dear Mr. Snider:
On behalf of the Kentucky Resources Council, Inc. I am transmitting the preliminary comments of KRC on the scoping document for the M.A. Walker Company Quarry on Indian Creek in Jackson County, Kentucky.
KRC has reviewed the permit files of the state Department for Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement concerning Permit 055-9400, issued to the M.A. Walker Co. for operation of an underground non-coal operation and associated surface facilities, and believes that these issues must be evaluated in addition to those identified in your scoping form:
1. The existing design of the operation and lack of sedimentation pond do not appear sufficient to prevent addition of suspended solids to the waters of Indian Creek.
According to the state permit, a low-water crossing has been approved and installed through Indian Creek, allowing trucks to cross from the mining area to the stockpile areas across the creek.
A low-water crossing allows trucks to track sediments into the creek, and provides an area where the berm is breached on both sides of the creek.
The existing operation lacks a sediment pond designed to control sediment from design storm events, and instead has only gabion baskets and rock check dams. The permit files contain no information demonstrating that these structures are sufficient to prevent adverse water quality impacts.
On 10-21-97, the inspector noted that the water in the creek was a "little milky looking." On 12-22-97, an inspection noted that the water was a "little milky in Indian Creek at time of inspection." An inspection on March 22, 1999 noted that due to heavy rains, the water was "white with lime deposits[.]" The operation has apparently been inactive since 1997. The attached photo, taken downstream of the operation, reflects the impact of the facility on Indian Creek.
In order to better control sediment contributions, if the operation is reauthorized (and KRC believes it should not be), the applicant should be required to construct a bridge across the creek, to complete the berm on both sides of the creek, and to install properly designed and sized sediment ponds to manage drainage in order to prevent additional contributions of sediment to the creek.
2. In the Forest Service's consideration of the "purpose of and need for action," the agency should consider the apparent inactivity of the operation for a number of years, giving rise to the reasonable conclusion that the operation is not needed and that the limestone demands of the area can be met through private operations rather than further dedication of public lands to production of non-coal minerals.
State inspection reports indicate that the operation was idle when inspected on 11-23-99, 1-05-00, 3-13-00, 5-16-00, 7-05-00, 10-27-00, 11-17-00, 1-04-01, 2-05-01, 3-06-01, 4-09-01, 5-07-01, 6-07-01, 7-03-01, 8-02-01, 9-05-01, 11-26-01, 12-26-01, 1-24-02, 2-19-02, 3-20-02, 4-18-02, 5-20-02, 6-19-02, 7-18-02, 8-16-02, 9-17-02, 10-17-02, 11-20-02, 1-18-03, 2-05-03, 3-24-03, and 4-22-03. Inspection reports through 1998 and 1999 reflected that the mine was inactive and operating from the stockpiles.
An inspection report on April 10, 2000 indicated that the company was active that day and that it was the "first day crusher has been operating since December 16th 1997."
The long delay in production from this site belies any claimed need for continued dedication of public lands to this private use. The Forest Service should leave mineral production to private lands, and instead utilize Forest Service lands, particularly those in a wildlife management area, to provide public amenities that cannot be obtained from private lands.
3. The continuation of this non-coal mineral mining and processing operation in close proximity to Indian Creek is incompatible with the protection of the quality of Indian Creek and downstream aquatic values. Indian Creek joins Laurel Fork to form the Middle Fork of the Rockcastle, with Laurel Fork, Middle Fork, Horse Lick Creek and the mainstem of the Rockcastle all supporting federally-protected threatened and endangered species. Conducting mineral operations, resulting in intermittent impacts on the visibility and turbidity of the stream, is in direct conflict with the goals of protection and enhancement of the habitat for these protected mussel species.
4. On June 12, KRC requested, though the amended Freedom of Information Act, a number of documents that we have as yet not received from the Forest Service, including:
a. A copy of any contract or lease with M.A. Walker Quarry.
b. All NEPA Documentation developed prior to the decision to execute the contract or lease described in a.
c. The amount of royalty or other payments that have been received from the quarry activity.
d. A copy of all inspection reports reflecting Forest Service inspection of the operation.
e. All water quality sampling conducted by the Forest Service upstream and downstream of the operation on Indian Creek.
Once this information is received, KRC will submit additional comments on the proposal. I ask that the comment period on the scoping document be extended until a reasonable time after those documents are disclosed.