SAVE THESE DATES
March 1, 2008, 11 am - 3 pm -Meadow Creek Conservation Coalition Potluck
Picnic/Outing/Environmental Issues Day. At Bob Lee's --From I-40 take Exit 300 toward Monterey. Turn right at 2nd
traffic light just past Imperial Hotel. Go 6 miles on Hwy 62 toward
Clarkrange/Jamestown (note mile markers).
Driveway (on left) is just past Forestry Station on right. Street
address is 20166. Bob's cell phone number is 265-7318. We'll have signs
out - or you can call Peggy Evans 931-432-6680 to carpool from her house
We'll have some hikes and outings set up if the weather's good.
Learn about the issues! See the Plateau Sand mine site. Visit a
previous coal mine site and see acid mine drainage.
February 28, 7 pm Putnam County Library, downstairs
meeting room - UCG Monthly Program Meeting. Brian Paddock and Mary Mastin will show slides of their recent trip to Costa Rica
with Ric Finch and Rutahsa
also have available for your signature a Petition the Tennessee Chapter
has put together for a specialty state license plate to benefit the
Sierra Club. We need 1000 signatures.
an Eye Out for
action on the UCG
to get the
City of Cookeville
join the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
to do an inventory
of greenhouse gas
emissions and for the Next Mayor's Forum on Water Resources
and Climate Change
about The Container
Bill supported by
resolution supporting the
is currently before the
Committee of the
Tennessee Chapter endorsed BoD candidates as
to UCG Sierra Student member Chance Finegan for
receiving an award for special services to the Park at Big South Fork's
After five years of dedicated
service, Peggy Evans has asked to be relieved of responsibilities of
Upper Cumberland Group (UCG) Chair, so yours truly has agreed to take
on the task.
new officers are: Mary Mastin - Group Chair;
Josie McQuail - Vice Chair; Peggy Evans -
Secretary; Ralph Bowden - Treasurer; Eston Evans - Conservation Chair;
Peggy Evans - Political Chair; Josie McQuail
- Publicity Chair.
This is your Group Executive
Committee. We still need an Outings chair and a Program
chair. Please let me know if you're interested in helping with
either of these.
We hope to revive interest in
the activities of the UCG. We will be meeting every fourth
Thursday of every month at 7pm in the downstairs meeting room
at the Putnam County Library, alternating planning
meetings with program meetings. See the left-side column,
Save these Dates, for details of our program meeting February 28.
We're also planning a major
outing activity March 1. Check the left-side column, Save these
Dates, for details.
As you can see, this
electronic newsletter is a new look for the too-long dormant Sierra
Scene. We're going to be trying some other new things this year - so
come along and join us for some fun informative times. And please give
us your feedback on the newsletter and other new plans.
Ancient Crayfish Threatened by Plateau Sand Mine Quarry
Both the Upper Cumberland Group and the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra
Club have recently supported the Meadow Creek Conservation Coalition
(MCCC) in MCCC's challenge to water degrdation permits issued to the Plateau Sand Mine
Quarry in Monterey, Tennessee.
MCCC is a association of landowners, including
active UCG Sierra members Bonita and David Barger and Richard Simmers
(also Carolyn Powell and Judy Roberson) who have covenanted to meet
certain requirements limiting land use and protecting the environment
on lands in eastern Putnam county that are adjacent to the proposed
Plateau Sand facility. The proposed sand mine is also adjacent to
two well-known and longstanding summer camps, Camp Monterey
for girls and Camp Country Lad for boys.
Plateau Sand's proposal for a surface sand pit mine at the top of the
Hurricane Creek watershed of the East Fork Obey River threatens the
existence of an
ancient and rare
crayfish, Cambarus obeyensis.
The Hurricane Creek basin is the only known locality where the Obey
crayfish is known to occur. The watershed is very small and is highly
vulnerable to disturbances.
The Obey Crayfish is one of eleven crayfish species protected by the
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission (TWRC). Due to such an
extremely small range distribution and habitat degradation, C. obeyensis is considered vulnerable to extirpation
and is currently listed as "Threatened" by the TWRC.
The company proposes to blast out sandstone from pits and then use
300,000 gallons of water a day to process and clean the sand. The
Little Piney Creek which feeds the pond from which this process water
will be taken is an annually intermittent stream and was dry a good
part of last summer and fall.
In addition to these environmental concerns, there is a major
procedural issue - TDEC's failure to follow
its own Antidegradation Policy. TDEC
failed to make an independent threshold determination that there was no
alternative to sandstone mining at this site and to require the permit
applicant to meet its burden of showing demonstrated economic and
social necessity for the project.
This is contrary to the Anti-Degradation procedure required by TDEC's regulations and carried out, for instance,
with the pending ARAP application for the Upper Cumberland Regional
Airport (UCRA) where the permit
applicant was required to establish social and economic necessity for
the project and the public was allowed to produce evidence as to
economic and social necessity. This evidence (or lack thereof)
has been instrumental in TDEC's refusal to grant the UCRA ARAP in the more
than 16 months since the last public hearing.
TDEC staff, after initially noting that there would be likely adverse
impacts to high quality Tier II waters (and destruction of wetlands) by
Plateau Sand, never looked at alternatives or economic necessity but
worked over a period of several months with the permit applicant to
revise the permit application. Eventually, TDEC proclaimed to the
public that there would be no degradation. TDEC completely sidestepped
the Anti-Degradation determination required by its own regulations and
ignored public comments on alternatives and the lack of economic and
After more months and a much revised set of applications, TDEC issued
final permits very different than the proposed permits first put on
public notice. TDEC asserted there would be no degradation and
that it need not consider alternatives or necessity. The NPDES
permit to discharge to the Little Piney and the ARAP to destroy
wetlands and withdraw water are now on appeal to the Water Quality
Instrumental in Protection of Airport Wetlands
The Upper Cumberland Regional Airport (ICRA) has announced that it is
revising its plans for expansion of the airport in White County
so that the 10.08 acres of high quality, Tier II wetlands set for
destruction in the original expansion proposal will not be
wetlands are a real treasure, a favorite spot of local
birdwatchers. The wetlands are home to a state threatened
species, the Tennessee
barking tree frog. The largest of the three wetlands, 7.9 acres,
is deep enough that folks have been known to fish in it. Check them out
yourself. You'll be amazed to see an Okeefeenokee
like swamp here in the Upper Cumberland.
The revised plan lengthens and strengthens the runways and increases
the number of hangars, but does not increase the parking and other
landside development that had originally been slated for the area over
the three wetlands.
A public hearing was held on the original plan in September
2003. The UCG Sierra Club submitted comments that the UCRA
had failed to establish that there was no practicable alternative to
filling the wetlands. It appeared that the area to the southeast
of the airport, that the UCRA planned to level
to use as fill or borrow dirt to extend the runways could be utilized
for the landside expansion as an alternative to filling the wetlands.
The Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), however, issued an Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit
(ARAP) in February 2004. The Sierra Club appealed the ARAP
to the Water Quality Control Board and while that was pending, filed a
federal court lawsuit, along with the National Wildlife Federation, the
Tennessee Environmental Council (TEC), the Tennessee Clean Water
Network (TCWP) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
(PEER) against the Army Corps of Engineers challenging the Corps'
failure to require a federal wetland permit. The environmental
organizations showed through a dye trace test that the wetlands at the
airport have a hydrologic connection to the nearby Falling Water
The Army Corps subsequently agreed to require a federal permit, causing
the state permits to be withdrawn. Over the next two and a half
years the UCRA's permit applications have
been pending with both TDEC and the Corps.
During this time, the Sierra Club, as well as the federal Fish and
Wildlife Service, also challenged the Tennessee Department of
Transportation's role as the agency responsible for compliance with the
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for this project and was
successfully argued that the agency responsible for compliance with the
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for this project was the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). An Environmental
Assessment (EA) has been pending at the FAA since May 2005.
In October 2006, a TDEC public hearing was held in Sparta on the question of whether the
UCRA had established social and economic necessity for the project. The
Sierra Club submitted economic information calling into question the
need for the expansion as planned.
The revised Environmental Assessment, submitted to the FAA on January
28, 2008, is available for public review until February 15 at the Putnam