HELENA – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comments on draft Environmental Assessment prepared for an application by Venture Stone LLC for a multiple quarry operating permit for sites located on private property in Cascade County.
Four of the sites are located about 13 miles south of Great Falls and about 40 miles east of Cascade. A fifth site is about ten miles south of Belt. The proposed permit would authorize stone processing at an existing building at 795 Ulm Vaughn Road about four miles southeast of Vaughn. The Operating Permit would cover a total of 10,012 acres, of which approximately 9,550 acres would be minimally disturbed over the next ten years.
Sandstone rocks laying on the surface would be removed with hand tools or with an excavator or backhoe. Depressions up to a foot in depth would be left. The rock would be transported to a palleting/staging area with a skid-steer loader. The rock would be used for various masonry purposes.
The proposed operation has been reviewed for compliance with a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA) for a General Quarry Operating Permit published by the DEQ in Feb. 2004. DEQ has determined that this operation meets all the requirements listed in the SPEA except that the proposed sites would have more than five acres disturbed and unreclaimed at any one time.
The Draft EA addresses issues and concerns raised during public involvement and from agency scoping. DEQ must decide whether to approve the Operating Permit as proposed, deny the request for an Operating Permit, or approve the Operating Permit with modifications. DEQ has identified approving the mining operation as proposed as the preferred alternative. This is not a final decision. This conclusion may change based on comments received from the public on the Draft EA, new information, or new analysis that may be needed in preparing the Final EA.
The Draft EA is available on the DEQ website at http://deq.mt.gov/Portals/112/Land/Hardrock/Documents/pdfs/Venture_Stone_Draft_EA.pdf
The deadline for comments is Feb. 10, 2017. For information on the project and to submit comments on the proposal, contact Herb Rolfes, Operating Permit Section Supervisor, DEQ Hard Rock Mining Bureau, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901, (406) 444-3841 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.