Impact study work begins on pit-to-pier

SHINE — Kitsap and Jefferson county residents opposing the construction of a four-mile mining conveyor belt and 1,000-foot dock are digging in deep as the next facet of the many sided pit-to-pier debate continues with the project’s Environmental Impact Study process.

Pit-to-pier advocate Fred Hill Materials of Poulsbo is also preparing for the first public meeting on the EIS, slated for Sept. 27 at Fort Worden State Park, to continue defending what it and other proponents view as a good business venture.

Jefferson County Department of Community Development officials have released a notice of Zoning Conditional Use Permit, Shoreline Substantial Development Permit, Shoreline Conditional Use Permit and a Determination of Significance which will be open for public comment through Oct. 5.

“I have submitted my own comments to the notice request, and I will comment when I attend the meeting,” said Hood Canal Coalition member John Fabian. The Hood Canal Coalition has been against the pit-to-pier project since 2002, citing potential negative environmental impacts. “We’re working with the tribes to make sure they have an opportunity to comment. Sometimes the tribes are not notified about these kinds of things, and they really should know what’s going on.”

The pit-to-pier project would construct a four-mile long conveyor belt to move gravel and sand from the Shine Pit to barges and ships, which would dock at a 1,000-foot long pier near Thorndyke Bay.

Ships and barges utilizing the pier would vary in size, and would remove up to 6.75 million tons of material annually. FHM estimates — at that rate — the — the quarry could provide enough rock for 40 years.

While opponents have voiced concerns over the project’s potential impact to fish and wildlife as well as the health of the Hood Canal, FHM officials maintain the company will take every precaution to ensure the pit-to-pier project is as environmentally-friendly as possible.

“We’ll be there during the open house with a show-and-tell presentation,” said Fred Hill Materials project manager Dan Baskins. “The meeting is about the county soliciting comments from the public. We’ve submitted over 33 studies and a large package of information to them.”

The studies and information outline how the project would operate, and what Fred Hill Materials would do to minimize impacts to local habitats. Baskins said the Environmental Impact Study, part of the State Environmental Policy Act, started Aug. 22 with the comment period, and could continue for anywhere from three months to five years, though the law says it must be completed in 180 days.

“But the big fight comes after they have made the Environmental Impact Study, if they go all the way Fred Hill wants them to go,” said Hood Canal Environmental Council president Bill Matchett. The HCEC is also against the pit-to-pier project. “Oh yes sir, we feel we will do well, we have done so before. There was a plan several years ago for a gravel pit at the mouth of the Hama Hama (River), we prevailed on that and it was much smaller than this. We are hoping we will prevail here, too.”

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