Permit withdrawn; quarry must reapply for new work

PORT ANGELES — The permit allowing a quarry to operate near the Elwha River under the Forest Practices Act was withdrawn by the state Department of Natural Resources in early March.

The department had in late November changed its position during an appeals process filed by a group of citizens who live near the quarry operated by Puget Sound Surfacers Inc., which is on Olympic Hot Springs Road.

DNR had previously granted the permit saying the quarry could opperate under the Forest Practices Act.

After changing positions on the issue in November — saying the quarry didn’t fit in the Forest Practices catagory — the department now has withdrawn the permit completely.

The hearing which was set for April 28 is now canceled since there is no permit to appeal, said Toby Thaler the lawyer for the group of citizens who live near the quarry.

The Forest Practices Act permits mining for exploration.

The Upper Elwha River Conservation Coalition challenged allowing the pit to operate under the act, saying that the purpose was not forestry but to mine and sell rock to Clallam County.

With its change in position, DNR agreed.

“It is not clear to us right now what is going on with the company or what their plans are,” Thaler said.

Owners George Lane of Forks and Mike Shaw of Sequim were permitted to blast during certain days of the year under the permit but now will have to file for a different permit through Clallam County if they want to continue.

Neither Lane nor Shaw returned calls to their business.

The plot of land is on Olympic Hot Springs Road, which branches off of U.S. Highway 101 and follows the Elwha River into the Olympic National Park.

Under the former operations under the Forest Practices Act, if Puget Sound Surfacers Inc. mined more than 3 acres on its 40-acre site off Olympic Hot Springs Road, then it would be subject to mining regulation by a number of authorities that have jurisdiction over the area, including Clallam County.

Exactly which authorities and under which laws they will need permits was unclear on Sunday.

Because no calls were returned from the company, it was also unclear what future plans include.

The blasting was already under special regulations because of its proximity to nesting grounds of the marbled murrelet. Blasting could only take place during certain times of day and no blasting could take place during nesting season.

The land is also considered a critical area.

A critical area is land that is more environmentally sensitive because of wetlands, aquatic habitats, streams, rivers, landslide hazard areas and other issues.

The area of the quarry site on Olympic Hot Springs Road falls into this category because it has been designated a landslide hazard area.

A landslide hazard area has slopes that are greater than 65 degrees.

Parts of the land have slopes up to 120 degrees.

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