SAN BERNARDINO, California, December 16, 2016 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service (Forest Service), together with the County of San Bernardino (County) have prepared a joint California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the Mitsubishi Cement Corporation South Quarry Project. The public is invited to review the Draft EIR/EIS and provide comments.
Mitsubishi proposes to develop and reclaim a new limestone quarry to the south of its existing operating area in Lucerne Valley, west of Highway 18, on the north slope of the San Bernardino Mountains. The Draft EIR/EIS and information regarding providing comments can be found http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=36511. The public comment period for the Draft EIR/EIS ends February 1, 2017. Written comments submitted electronically are strongly encouraged.
The South Quarry Project as proposed in the Plan of Operations would total approximately 153.6 acres consisting of a 128-acre quarry, a 2.7- acre landscape berm, a 22.2-acre haul road 1.8 miles in length, and a temporary construction road of 0.7 acre. The South Quarry and haul road would be located almost entirely (147 acres) on 440 acres of unpatented claims owned by MCC on public federal land in the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF) with approximately 6.6 acres of the haul road located on MCC fee land where it enters the existing East Pit.
The purposes of the proposed South Quarry are:
- To mine high-grade limestone to blend with the existing East and approved West Pits’ limestone to supply the required feed specifications for the adjacent existing Cushenbury Cement Plant for 120 years;
- To supply cement for construction and other uses in an efficient and environmentally sound manner;
- To continue to realize the economic value of the investment made in the existing Cushenbury mine and cement plant and the limestone resource at the Project site;
- To avoid logistical and environmental costs associated with non-contiguous operations;
- To meet the Forest Service requirements for environmental protection;
- To meet the State’s and County’s Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) requirements;
- To be consistent with the intent of the Carbonate Habitat Management Strategy by providing permanent protection for rare carbonate endemic plant species;
- To minimize impacts to rare plants and wildlife, such as the Cushenbury herd of Nelson’s bighorn sheep through quarry design and offsite mitigation;
- To reclaim the site for post-mining uses which will include open space and habitat;
- To contour mining features and revegetate disturbed areas to minimize aesthetic and erosion impacts; and
- To reclaim and maintain the site as necessary to eliminate hazards to public safety.
This project is subject to comment and predecisional administrative review pursuant to Forest Service Regulations at 36 CFR 218. Only those who submit timely project-specific written comments during a public comment period are eligible to file an objection during the objection filing period. Individuals or representatives of an entity submitting comments must sign the comments or verify identity upon request. Comments on this proposal will be accepted for 45 days following publication of the legal notice in the San Bernardino Sun, which is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period. It is the commenter’s responsibility to ensure timely receipt of comments.
The proposed action also includes a project-specific Forest Plan amendment to reduce the Scenic Integrity Objectives in the project area. The review process referenced above, not the review process for Forest Plans, applies to this amendment (36 CFR 219).
(U.S. Forest Service press release)