Public comment period opens on gravel project near Elbow Lake

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is seeking public comment on an aggregate take and remove permit application to mine, crush, and remove aggregate (gravel) on approximately 21 acres of State Trust Land near Elbow Lake in Missoula County. The application also includes a request to have an asphalt plant on site. The permit application has been submitted by LHC, Inc. 

"Input from the local community is one of the factors we consider when working through the analysis and decision-making process on permits submitted to State Trust Lands as outlined in the Montana Environmental Policy Act. Written public comments are the most effective way for the public to provide input on resource issues and concerns," said Kristen Baker-Dickinson, the Clearwater Unit Manager that administers State Trust Land management in the area. 

The State was granted land in Montana by the U.S. Congress, including through the Enabling Act of 1889. Known as State Trust Lands, the Department is constitutionally mandated to manage and lease the land to generate revenue held in trust to support Montana common schools and other institutions. 

In the case of gravel extraction, a royalty in the form of a dollar amount per cubic yard removed from State Trust Lands is paid into the trust. The trust that would benefit from potential gravel royalties on the proposed project is the Pine Hills Youth Correction Facility. 

The Department is accepting written public comment pertaining to the project during a 30-day period that opens March 16, 2023, at 8:00 a.m. (MST) with comments accepted until 5:00 p.m. (MST) on April 16, 2023. 

Substantive comments are needed to inform the Department's decision-making. A substantive comment could be one that identifies an alternative or resources issues and concerns. The Department does not base its decisions on a count or tally of how many comments are for or against the project or how many times a certain resource issue and concern or alternative is brought up. 

For further information on the proposed project and to submit a written comment online visit: https://dnrc.mt.gov/TrustLand/subsurface-resources/Elbow-Lake-Gravel-Project. Comments may be also submitted by mail to this address: Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Minerals Management Bureau, Attn: Zack Winfield, 1539 11th Ave, Helena, MT, 59601. 

At the conclusion of the 30-day comment period, substantive comments will be responded to and considered in the environmental analysis document which helps inform the Department decision on the permit application.

The completed environmental analysis document will be published online.   

 

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