News

Grouse Ridge DEIS released

NORTH BEND — With residential and commercial development


on the rise in the Eastside, the demand for gravel and concrete has also


increased.


For that reason Cadman Inc., a supplier of gravel, sand, quarry


rock and ready-mix concrete, has proposed a gravel pit on Grouse Ridge in


North Bend.


The North Bend Gravel Operation project, if approved, would be


located on two sites of Weyerhaeuser-owned land situated between Interstate


90's exits 34 and 38. The operation's neighbors include the Woodriver


development, a Buddhist compound, the Seattle East truck stop and


several homes.


Cadman will lease the property for the 25-year life of the project.


Then, the approximately 300 acres of land will be donated to Mountains to


Sound Greenway, an organization that has been preserving property along the


I-90 corridor.


Now, the project is one step closer to reality with the recent release of


the project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS lists


four alternatives for consideration.


"Between King County and Cadman, we wanted to make sure


we explored different options so that neighbors and residents could


see what all of the different options and impacts were," said Robin


Hansen, Cadman's chief project manager.


The first alternative would result in no sand or gravel mining. The


land could continue to be used for tree harvesting. This alternative would


still have noise, dust and traffic impacts associated with the timber industry.


The second alternative is Cadman's preferred option. The


plan consists of two separate excavation sites, referred to as "upper"


and "lower." The lower area takes up 33 acres and is located east of the


Seattle East truck stop.


The lower site will be mined for five years, then turned into a


processing center for the gravel excavated from the upper site on Grouse


Ridge. Gravel would travel to the lower site on a conveyor system more than a


mile long. In addition, new wells and a freshwater storage pond are


planned to meet the project's water needs. A pipeline would be installed along


the conveyor system to transport the water.


This plan is not expected to have many unmitigatable impacts,


according to the DEIS. The project could possibly affect the area's water


quality and wildlife habitat. There's also a probability that the gravel pits will


be visible from a higher vantagepoint.


Alternative three is similar to the second plan but the conveyor


system would not be built. Instead, trucks would transport the gravel from


one site to another using exits 34 and 38. This plan would also implement


the use of an existing logging road that leads to the fire-training academy.


This alternative is expected to have similar impacts to the second plan.


"We don't think [that alternative three] is an environmentally


friendly option," Hansen said. She is


concerned that if trucks were forced to use the logging service road it would be


unsafe and could possibly harm the environment. The road runs through


an owl conservation area and is near Ollalie, Twin Falls and Iron


Horse parks.


The fourth alternative would allow the upper site to be mined;


however, the lower site would be left undeveloped.


The alternatives are a result of two years' worth of planning and


studies. Since the project was proposed, Cadman has been busy


conducting many environmental studies.


"We've started this out different than every other gravel pit,"


Hansen said. "We did every environmental study first and we actually


designed the entire project before we went in for an application."


While the experts were conducting studies, neighbors were


forming organizations to protest parts of the project.


Jeff Martine is the president of one of the groups called the Cascade


Gateway Foundation. The members mainly oppose the lower site because Exit


34 would be used, generating approximately 900 truck trips per day.


The lower site is also a bit too close to an aquifer for the group members'


comfort.


"They should forget the lower site. Only 5 percent of the gravel is in


the lower site and 95 percent of the opposition is with the lower site,"


Martine said. "So why choose that one?"


Hansen said that she welcomes comments about the lower site or


any other issue concerning the project. Now that the formal comment


period is underway, this is the best opportunity to state official concerns about


the project.


"We want to make sure that when we do start mining that we are


incorporating all of their concerns in the business," she said, adding


that Cadman is forming a community advisory group that would exist for


the duration of the project.


The public comment period usually runs 30 days, but Cadman


has extended it to 60 days. Written comments on the project, its


alternatives, impacts and mitigational measures


are due on Aug. 14 and can be mailed to Gordon Thomson, EIS Project


Manager, Current Planning Section, King County DDES, 900 Oakesdale


Ave. S.W., Renton, WA 98055.


In addition, a public meeting on the DEIS will be held from 5 to 8


p.m. on July 11 at Mount Si High.


Copies of the DEIS can be reviewed at local libraries and are


available at Cadman's office in Seattle East, off of Exit 34. Office hours are 10


a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday or by appointment. For more


information or an appointment, call (425) 961-4346.


The DEIS can also be viewed on the county's Web site


at www.metrokc.gov/ddes/lusd/grm.

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