Forest Service Disappoints
After considering the responses to our questions, and after having them read aloud to the Board of Supervisors, I have to continue to question the true nature of the hazard presented by the mine site, and the ultimate benefit of removal.
There is no question that some equipment was leaking petroleum products. It doesn’t seem that the problem has been completely remedied, nor does it seem that the site was producing a significant amount of material. Were there diesel tanks visibly leaking? Did your crew remove contaminated soil? How much? How may vehicles were leaking?
How much mercury was at the site? How much of the "hazardous materials" was simply household/garage items?
Note, we aren’t asking "what did you cobble together as an excuse;" we’re asking, what, actually, was the danger that constituted your police action?
Let me say up front that the passages regarding the legality of the buildings are not significant. The buildings and even electrical probably did not represent a significant public hazard, according to person familiar with the site. It is not very satisfying to say the people were made homeless and the little shacks destroyed by the Forest Service simply because you could.
Many of us believe you have not made a case for leaving public and county input out of your actions; the hazardous materials simply didn't warrant the kind of haste used. The claim by your office that posting the notice in one county is somehow sufficient to a different county with three media sources is likewise unsatisfactory. Your office communicates with media in this county regularly.
It seems to be the general consensus that, once again, the Forest Service has moved against members of our community, and destroyed part of our community culture without adequate justification, and without even proper notice or opportunity for public input. Couch this in whatever regulatory codification you like, it doesn’t change a common conclusion that the Forest Service does what it likes without thought to the real people who have the misfortune to live in your "public lands".
We also feel the operation was conducted as it was simply to avoid having the community complain.
Do us the honor of being honest. It doesn’t matter what we want in our communities, you have your marching orders, and the most you’ll do is give us passing excuse.
Finally, sending Quentin Youngblood, who had nothing to do with the matter, to read to the Board a list of questions and answers that most people in the room had already read in the Prospect, is the worst kind of insult.
There is probably not much we in the county can do about your treatment of us, but we’ll do what we can.