In Regards to the Elbow Lake Gravel Pit

In Regards to the Elbow Lake Gravel Pit

LHC, Inc has applied for an Opencut (Dryland) mining permit on 21.2 acres of DNRC (Dept of Natural Resources and Conservation)-managed State Trust Lands to mine, crush, and remove gravel to a depth of 20 feet and run an asphalt plant through 2040.

The proposed site is 3.3 miles north of Clearwater Junction.

To the north is Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) land; across Highway 83 to the east is the Clearwater Wildlife Management Area (Game Range) and Last Best Place Cemetery. To the west and 120 feet downhill and 500 yards away is the Clearwater River.

This public land is also part of the Clearwater Watershed, grizzly bear habitat and labeled by the State as critical Bulltrout habitat. It is also less than a ½ mile uphill from DNRC designated cabin sites with private wells. The DNRC and DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) are mandated to consider this application, and both must approve it for LHC, Inc to move forward. Funds from this project would benefit the Pine Hills School.

Other State Trust Land tracts exist in the area that don’t have cabin sites, or border a river, or have elk pass through from a game range, that could be used to benefit the school.

LHC, Inc has not asked to test those potential sites for a gravel pit. By law, the DEQ cannot hold a public meeting for a Dryland permit application.

HB 599 that passed in 2021 also reduced required notifications perimeters. It was up to LHC, Inc. to certify they made the appropriate notifications. The DNRC seeks substantive comments by 4/16/23 related to the human and physical environment that would be affected by the gravel pit. Substantive comments identify an issue, alternative, or a resource that should be examined further.

Our comments/questions:

Can another DNRC State Trust Land be located for this industrial site that is not in the middle of a watershed, near a game range, and away from cabin sites and wells?

Will LHC, Inc use their other pit in the area or be asked to test other sites? What will be the health effects for the wildlife and nearby river ecosystem?

How will they be affected by the noise, fumes and dust? How will the game range that took decades to establish be affected? How will the endangered Grizzly bear and Bulltrout populations be affected?

The impacts and risks from a gravel pit and asphalt plant in this sensitive area seem too high. Alternative sites on State Trust Lands exist that would have less impact on all lives, the watershed and game range and fulfill the DNRC’s goal of providing school income.

The DNRC should look for better options before approving this pit and plant. The DEQ should deny the permit for the many insults listed.

To comment, contact the DNRC at by 4/16/23.

The DEQ takes comments throughout the evaluation period, but act quickly!

Elbow Lake Neighbors and Friends


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