Mining activities continue unabated at the illegal Zimmerly quarry, just north of Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sept. 20, 2018.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Friends calls on Gorge Commission to stop largest ongoing land-use violation in history of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic AreaContact: Burt Edwards, communications director | 971.634.0595 (office) | 703.861.8237 (cell) | firstname.lastname@example.org (email)
WASHOUGAL, WA – On Tuesday, Oct. 9, Friends of the Columbia Gorge joined with Clark County citizens and landowners in challenging a ruling by Clark County Hearing Examiner Joe Turner allowing the Nutter Corporation to continue mining on the Zimmerly property in eastern Clark County, in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The newly filed appeals will be heard by the twelve appointed commissioners who serve on the Columbia River Gorge Commission.
Speaking about the appeal filings, Friends Senior Attorney Nathan Baker said:
"This is the largest ongoing land use violation in the history of the National Scenic Area. Zimmerly and Nutter are violating the law and harming the Gorge with impunity. This illegal and irresponsible mining must stop.”
"The Gorge Commission staff should have initiated an enforcement action on this property a long time ago. For nearly a year now, countless members of the community have asked the Gorge Commission staff to take action. Any further delay will just send the wrong message to Gorge landowners—that the Gorge Commission staff are no longer interested in enforcing Scenic Area rules, and as a result, Gorge residents are on their own."
General Background Information
In October 2017, the Nutter Corporation began mining the Zimmerly property without the required land use permits, harming Gorge resources and the surrounding community. In August 2018, Clark County Hearing Examiner Joe Turner held that mining is allowed on the property under an outdated land use approval issued in 1993 by the Gorge Commission’s executive director, and that the hearing examiner lacked jurisdiction to determine whether the 1993 approval is still in effect.
Starting in October 2017, community members and Friends staff have repeatedly called on the Gorge Commission’s Executive Director, Krystyna Wolniakowski, to enforce the Scenic Area land use rules and shut down the illegal mining immediately. The Commission’s executive director is required by the Gorge Commission’s rules and the National Scenic Area Act to initiate enforcement action when she/he becomes aware of violations in the National Scenic Area.
Gorge Commission Rule Excerpt:
(1) The Director shall investigate alleged violations of the measures listed in subsection 1 of 350-30-015 of this Division.
(2) The Director may inspect the subject property if necessary to conduct an investigation under subsection (1) of this section.
350-30-030. Notice of Alleged Violation.
(1) If the violation is not de minimis, the Director shall serve written notice of violation on the alleged violator by personal service or by registered or certified mail.
Scenic Area Act Excerpt:
SEC. 15. ENFORCEMENT. [16 U.S.C. § 544m]
(a) ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES.—
(1) COMMISSION ORDERS.—The Commission shall monitor activities of counties pursuant to sections 544 to 544p of this title and shall take such actions as it determines are necessary to ensure compliance.
* * *
(3) CIVIL PENALTIES.—Any person or entity who willfully violates the management plan or any land use ordinance or any implementation measure or any order issued by the Commission pursuant to sections 544 to 544p of this title may be assessed a civil penalty by the Commission not to exceed $10,000 for each violation. No penalty may be assessed under this subsection unless such person or entity is given notice and opportunity for a public hearing with respect to such violation. The Commission may compromise, modify, or remit, with or without conditions, any penalty imposed under this subsection, taking into consideration the nature and seriousness of the violation and the efforts of the violator to remedy the violation in a timely manner.
In the Zimmerly mining case, however, Gorge Commission staff have been aware of the violations for nearly a year, but have yet to take any action.
Friends Senior Attorney Nathan Baker is available for additional background and legal analysis. For interview requests please contact Burt Edwards at email@example.com or 971.635.0595 (office) or 703.861.8237 (cell).
Oct. 9 Appeal Documents & Site Photos
Friends vs. Clark County Notice of Appeal (PDF)
Akers vs. Clark County Notice of Appeal (PDF)
Photographs of the Zimmerly quarry: Photo 1 (taken Sept. 20, 2018) | Photo 2 (taken Oct. 4, 2018)
Related Recent Media Coverage
"Mine traffic troubles neighbors: Gravel pit's legality in question as residents report rise in truck traffic along rural road near Washougal," Jake Thomas, The Columbian, July 25, 2018. https://www.columbian.com/news/2018/jul/25/mine-traffic-troubles-neighbors/
"Quarry rocks Washougal: Neighbors, Columbia Gorge advocates say rock pit poses safety hazards, creates nuisance," Kelly Moyer, Camas Post Record, July 26, 2018. https://www.camaspostrecord.com/news/2018/jul/26/quarry-rocks-washougal/
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Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a community-based, nonprofit organization with over 8,000 members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the scenic, natural, cultural and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Friends maintain an office in Portland, OR as well as in two Gorge towns -- Hood River, OR and Washougal, WA. Learn more: gorgefriends.org or follow-us: @GorgeFriends
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