Residents voice concerns about a mining proposal in the Sloan Hills area


The line stretched out the door of Coronado High School on a chilly Nov. 2 evening. But it didn't matter, because residents were determined to voice their concerns about a mining proposal at Sloan Hills.

"You'd be hard-pressed to find (a resident) in favor of it," said Donna Dickey, a member of the Sun City Sloan Hills Task Force that opposes the mining operation. "I say stand up if you are for it."

The meeting was the second of three conducted by the Bureau of Land Management. More than 600 people showed up, but many were turned away as Coronado High School's theater reached capacity.

According to Shonna Dooman, an assistant field manager from the Bureau of Land Management's Las Vegas Field Office, the mining site would be 2.9 miles from the Southern Highlands community and 3.5 miles from Anthem .

The 640-acre quarry would be used to blast and drill for limestone and dolomite. Operations would proceed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Dooman read a list of five alternatives for the project: having two separate sites -- a north and a south site under two different contracts; a north-only site; a south-only site; a north and a south site under one contracted company; and a no action alternative.

Alternative five was the only proposed action that warranted a minute-long applause from the packed audience at the meeting.

After the BLM presented its alternatives, dozens of residents lined up to use their designated three minutes of public comment time to compel the agency to take no action.

Residents were concerned mostly with environmental factors such as dust and air quality, noise and wasting of resources such as water.

Susan Milliken, a resident who spoke during public comment, said she moved to Sun City Anthem three years ago for health reasons.

"I was told the environment would be good for me," Milliken said.

If mining is allowed, the environmental impact study revealed, pollutants would be released in the air. Audience members feared those pollutants could lead to conditions from valley fever to lung cancer and other respiratory problems.

The proposed mining site is 500 feet from the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, which is home to desert tortoises and other wildlife.

"The people of the community should be considered an endangered species, too," Dickey said.

While some residents have lived in the area for several years, others, such as Diane Askwyth, who moved from New Jersey a year ago, were frustrated that they didn't receive adequate information about the proposed mining site.

"If I had known the proposal was coming up, I wouldn't have moved here," Askwyth said.

Residents voiced concerns about the effects on property values, saying that people moving to Anthem would be deterred because of the mining.

Residents also didn't like the fact that CEMEX and Service Rock Products, two companies that are not Nevada-based, could potentially reap economic benefits from the project without putting money or resources back into the state.

Robert Cutter, the regional vice president for CEMEX who spoke during public comment, said the project would create jobs and produce sufficient supplies of limestone and dolomite.

"This Sloan Hills site is strategically important," Cutter said.

Cutter said the company has considered the environmental factors .

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak attended the meeting to speak against the proposal .

"I am well aware of the respiratory problems this could cause," Sisolak said. "I have asthma, and I use an inhaler."

Sisolak said the environmental impact study can't sufficiently weigh the potential effects this mining could have on people with respiratory conditions.

"There is no project more important than putting an end to this gravel pit," Sisolak said. "I implore you to reject this in its entirety once and for all."

Sisolak was joined by representatives for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.; and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev. All presented statements encouraging the BLM to consider the fifth alternative.

Residents have until Dec. 5 to send their comments to the BLM. For more information, email sloanhillseis@blm.gov.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 387-5201.

 

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