Originally Published: August 21, 2017 6:02 a.m.
The region’s main transportation-planning organization will add its concerns about the Kirkland Mine to those that have already been filed by the City of Prescott and other area officials and residents.
At an Aug. 16 meeting, the executive board of the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO) voted 3-1 to send a letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) listing concerns about the mining operation being proposed in Kirkland.
Yavapai County Supervisor Craig Brown, who serves as the chairman of the CYMPO Board, told the audience that the county has “little to no jurisdiction (over the mine), except when it comes to the drive way.”
Still, Brown said that he had earlier written a letter “adamantly opposed to the project.”
In addition, the Prescott City Council recently agreed to send a letter to BLM registering concerns. That letter, dated July 26, mentions:
• Impacts from heavy truck traffic on the Abia Judd Elementary School and Granite Mountain School, both located near the Iron Springs Road/Williamson Valley Road intersection.
• Impacts on the Prescott Police Department’s enforcement duties from an “influx of heavy truck traffic.”
• Public health issues related to dust from both hauling and the product production.
• Impacts on the city’s aging road system from mining trucks carrying heavy loads.
A memo from CYMPO Administrator Chris Bridges noted that the mining operation, which is located between Skull Valley and Kirkland, is expected to generate 85 truck trips per day within a “350-mile radius in all directions.”
While noting that the radius could include all roadways within the state of Arizona and perhaps leading into California, the memo added: “The CYMPO regional roadways could be impacted.”
Bridges pointed out, however, that “there are thousands of trucks coming through here that nobody gets to say a word about.”
But a number of audience members urged the board to be proactive on the impacts from the mine.
Skull Valley resident Denise Bennett said trucks traveling between the mine and Interstate 40 would likely use Williamson Valley, adding to the traffic congestion there.
“I’m asking you to add your voice and be proactive on this,” Bennett said.
Others raised concerns as well about the large trucks’ impacts on the narrow, curving roads in the Skull Valley/Kirkland area.
Resident Thomas Slaback pointed out that the roads serve as the route for the Skull Valley Loop road cycling event, and he worried about the impacts that heavy truck traffic would have on such events.
While some of the Skull Valley-area residents questioned the level of concern that Prescott-area officials have for what happens in the rural areas, CYMPO Board Vice Chair and Prescott Valley Town Councilwoman Mary Mallory maintained, “What happens in Kirkland or Prescott affects us all.”
While Brown, Mallory, and Prescott City Councilwoman Billie Orr voted for sending the letter of opposition to BLM, fellow Board Member Terry Nolan voted against the motion.
Nolan, the mayor of Dewey-Humboldt, stressed the expected economic benefits from the mine. “It will bring impacts for the employees and the people who live there,” he said, adding that mining-related jobs such as truck driving would offer salaries of “$20 an hour minimum.”
Earlier this summer, the BLM extended the public comment period on the Kirkland Mining Company Pozzolan Mine Environmental Analysis until Aug. 25. Comments can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to Shelby Cave at the BLM Hassayampa Field Office, 21605 N. Seventh Avenue, Phoenix, 85027.
A news release from the BLM stated that the company proposes to develop a high-quality pozzolan mine on about 76 acres as regulated under the General Mining Act of 1872.
CYMPO is made up of officials from area governments, as well as the Arizona Department of Transportation. Representatives from ADOT and Chino Valley were absent from Wednesday’s vote.