THIS GUEST ENTRY WAS SUBMITTED BY SHARRON COONTZ:
Rocky Prairie still in jeopardy. Neighbors need your help to save it.
Back in 2008 we reported on the local group Friends of Rocky Prairie and their victory in keeping a huge industrial center off of a fragile piece of land near Millersylvania State Park and adjacent to a Fish and Wildlife preserve. Knowing there was a gravel-mining permit with the land, and knowing also that raising the funds to buy the property from the Port of Tacoma would be quite a task, we asked, “Now what?”
Despite efforts by state and federal agencies to convince the Port to work with them, the Port put the site up for sale, asking $27 million. A year and a half later they sold the site for 8.5 million dollars to paid over 20 years and an equal amount in gravel, also over 20 years. But the permit that allows for the mine has conditions that haven’t been complied with, and all the studies the permit was granted under are now more than 8 years old. Friends of Rocky Prairie has gone up against the Port and the new owners (So. California developers) to fight the use of that permit. The Thurston County Commissioners ruled in March that new environmental reviews were needed.
The Port and the new owners, known as Maytown Sand & Gravel, or MSG, have not only appealed the Commissioners’ decision, they’ve sued Thurston County, Friends of Rocky Prairie, and Black Hills Audubon Society for damages of up to $20 million for causing them delays in mining. Of course these delays were caused because the Port never complied with the permit!
According to Friends of Rocky Prairie spokeswoman Sharron Coontz, the bullying won’t stop the citizens’ efforts to save this important ecosystem. 45 of the 52 known species of county butterflies have made this place their home historically, and there are countless other plant and animal species that make the site what the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife calls “a rare habitat matrix unique to Western Washington.”
“The real struggle now is financial,” said Coontz. “We’re up against the very deep pockets of the Port and the developers, and they’re spending money on frivolous lawsuits that we have to defend against at the same time we’re fighting to protect the prairie. It’s frustrating, to say the least. If anyone can help us as we continue to defend this embattled treasure, we’d really appreciate it.”
Donations to their legal fund can be made at friendsofrockyprairie.com
or by sending to P.O. Box 140, Tenino, WA 98589.
TELL FRIENDS OF THE ROCKY PRAIRIE YOU READ ABOUT THEM ON THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG!