The Umstead Coalition wins a Key Appeal! Crabtree Creek Bridge “Permit” is Invalidated. The Judge reversed (invalidated) NC DEQ’s Decision to issue Neuse Buffer Authorization for Wake Stone Corporation’s proposed bridge over Crabtree Creek for proposed new mining pit.
Read Administrative Law Judge Michael C. Byrne's Ruling HERE
September 27, 2021
Today the Administrative Law Judge ruled in favor of The Umstead Coalition’s Appeal of the Neuse Buffer Authorization to permanently destroy Neuse Buffers along Crabtree Creek with a massive bridge, 60-Foot wide. The Authorization is INVALIDATED. Wake Stone, a private mining company, has proposed to build a new bridge across Crabtree Creek just upstream of William B. Umstead State Park within the view and noise scape of the State Park to transport large, noisy quarry trucks from a proposed new pit north of Crabtree Creek on the Odd Fellows Tract to the existing quarry operations on the south side of Crabtree Creek. Concurrent with this proposed new bridge is the construction of 1,700 linear feet of massive retaining walls along Crabtree Creek that would kill trees within the Neuse River buffer and substantially narrow the Crabtree Creek riparian buffer on the existing quarry site.
Today’s Ruling confirms The Umstead Coalition’s contention that the NC Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Resources (DEQ-DWR) did not follow the Neuse Buffer Rules (the law) which requires full evaluation of alternatives to avoid Neuse Buffer impacts, and if not possible to avoid, then evaluation of alternatives to minimize impacts. Wake Stone did not submit the required alternatives evaluation to DEQ and DEQ failed to require and fully assess viable alternatives to avoid and minimize impacts to the Neuse River Riparian buffers along Crabtree Creek.
The proposed bridge and deep rock mine would cause harm to Crabtree Creek’s health and wildlife corridor. Just downstream of the proposed bridge, in Crabtree Creek as it flows through William B. Umstead State Park, is the “Threatened” Neuse River waterdog (Necturus lewisi). The US Fish and Wildlife finalized the listing as threatened on June 8, 2021 (effective July 9, 2021)(Footnote 1). The Neuse River waterdog only lives in the Neuse and Tar River Basins and is threatened by loss of habitat and sediment pollution.
“This section of Crabtree Creek and protection of the Odd Fellows tract represents the best chance to allow William B. Umstead State Park to remain ecologically connected to other natural areas, particularly Jordan Lake which has over 40,000 acres of public forest/gamelands,” said Dr. Ron Sutherland, Chief Scientist, Wildlands Network. “Jordan Lake’s forest are also connected (via several large rivers) to the broader network of habitat across North Carolina, and it is essential to keep Umstead State Park linked together with that network.”
Wake Stone proposes to build a new quarry pit adjacent to North Carolina’s William B. Umstead State Park. Park. The private quarry company has proposed to destroy our public property managed by the RDU Airport Authority by blasting a deep pit leaving only 25 feet of buffer along the border with William B. Umstead State Park, Old Reedy Creek Road Recreational Corridor, and a private residence, less than 50 feet buffer along the steep Crabtree Creek slopes- on both sides of Crabtree Creek-leaving Crabtree Creek suspended above two massive pits 400 feet deep; quarry blasting explosions within 100 feet of our State Park, East Coast Greenway, US 1 Bike Route, and a private residence.
The judge felt strongly enough about statements made under oath by Sam Bratton, President of Wake Stone, that he included this statement in his Finding of Facts:
36. “Confidence in Bratton’s opinions and predictions is not enhanced by his providing evasive answers to the Tribunal’s questions about the impacts of agricultural lime, fertilizer, and superphosphate entering Crabtree Creek as a part of efforts to re-establish vegetation in the buffer area destroyed by the Wake Stone project.”
The Mining Permit is currently being evaluated by another DEQ Division. The quarry proposal is for the first private rock quarry on public lands in NC impacting a State Park and would set a new disastrous precedent for public land management in the State. The quarry permit should be denied. NC State Parks has requested the Mining Permit Application be denied due to significant adverse effects to William B. Umstead State Park.
The judge's ruling highlights the irregularities and lack of consideration of less environmentally harmful options, as required. DEQ has made no decision on Wake Stone’s permit modification for a new quarry pit on public land, the other side of Crabtree Creek from an existing quarry, abutting Umstead State Park.
Dr. Jean Spooner, Chair of The Umstead Coalition, “requests the Secretary of DEQ trigger a full, independent Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the proposed new RDU Quarry. DEQ’s Rules on the NC Environmental Policy Act (NCEPA) of 1971 require such when a proposed activity may have significant adverse effects on parklands, recreational areas and threatened species.” (Footnote 2) “The situation before us is perhaps the biggest environmental disaster to a North Carolina State Park in decades.”
The Court’s Decision is available here:
Footnote 1: https://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2021/06/service-provides-endangered-species-protections-for-the-carolina-madtom-and-neuse-river-waterdog/
Footnote 2: DEQ’s Rules on SEPA clearly state the authority and requirement of the Secretary of the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) to trigger NCEPA:
The Umstead Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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