DEQ seeks public comment on Opencut Mining application for Helena-area gravel pit

HELENA – The Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on an Opencut Mining permit application for a 61.5-acre site known as McHugh 2, located approximately two miles north of Helena in Lewis & Clark County. 

DEQ says they must assess the application under a tight timeframe and is seeking relevant information from citizens with knowledge of local conditions. If comments received reveal substantial issues not adequately satisfied in the proposed Plan of Operation, DEQ may determine an extended review of the application is necessary. 

Rebecca Harbage, Public Policy Director, says they recognize they don’t necessarily always know all of the details some of the neighbors in the area might know.  

It’s really valuable for us to hear from the local people who live in that area and around that area,” says Harbage.If they have specific concerns, we really want them to bring those concerns to our attention so we can factor them into our review.  

Harbage says they are aware of several concerns from the public before the meeting. They are aware of things like traffic, air and water quality concerns 

The Public Meeting and Open House for the application will be held in the Helena Middle School Auditorium on Wednesday February 12th. The meeting will begin with an open house from 5-5:45 p.m. A question and answer session will follow from 6-7:30 p.m. and they will take public comment from 7:30-9 p.m. 

DEQ is interested in hearing comments from as many people as possible in the time allotted. Therefore, attendees wishing to provide oral comments will be asked to sign up at the door and to limit their comments to three minutes or less. Commenters will be heard in the order in which they sign up. Written comments may also be submitted. All written and oral comments will be evaluated equally throughout the permitting process. 

If you can’t make it to the meeting or weren’t able to speak, written comments may be submitted by email using the “Public Comment for Valley Sand and Gravel, LLC— McHugh 2” link under “Opencut News”, by clicking here or by U.S. Mail addressed to the DEQOpencut Mining Section, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901. 

DEQ must make this determination by Feb. 26, 2020. Therefore, we recommend that interested persons submit written comments before Feb. 21, 2020, to allow time for evaluation. 

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