By Miriam Raftery
June 8, 2015 (Lakeside) – Lakeside residents have launched an online petition asking Bill Horn, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, to save El Monte from a proposed sand-mining project. View or sign petition here.
This ill-conceived, destructive and dangerous project poses a clear public safety threat. It would also destroy a place so beautiful that it’s been designated a county scenic view corridor and a focal point in long-range San Diego River Park preservation plans. Mining here could also contaminate a major drinking water supply and potentially spread deadly Valley Fever across our region.
The petition describes El Monte Valley as one of the “treasures” of San Diego County, envisioned to be the “crown jewel” in a 52-mile San Diego River Park from the mountains to the sea. It is crowned by El Cajon Mountain, dubbed "El Capitan" by locals for its resemblance to the landmark monolith in Yosemite.
Sand mining here would threaten to pollute the third-largest aquifer in our region, at a time when our area needs more water, not less, amid the worst drought in memory.
Sands in El Monte Valley harbor potentially lethal Valley Fever spores which can be inhaled when soil is disturbed—spores that could be carried in sand loads slated for use in road projects countywide, potentially spreading the disease across our region.
Mining would require up to 250 truck loads a day, 5 days a week, for at least 15 years. This valley has over 100 equestrian-based businesses plus residents who cherish their peaceful, rural lifestyle.
The sand mining would lower the valley by 30 feet overall and up to 90 feet at the deepest point, forever changing the terrain and habitat.
The developers have promised to “restore” the valley after mining operations are done on the 565 acre project, 15 years from now – or maybe longer, since mining projects often seek to renew and extend applications to operate for decades. But you can never truly restore the devastation that’s planned. Read our coverage of this project here.
The project arose out of a settlement deal cut between Helix Water District and a golf course developer after their partnership went sour. The project could generate substantial revenues for the property owner and money for the County, too. Developers have tried to position this as a "restoration" project but the only thing green is the money -- at least for the many years that industrial-scale mining operations would continue, over the objections of every Lakeside resident who testified at last week's hearing.
Too often, bad projects opposed by communities are passed by a majority of Supervisors who don’t live in the impacted district. If residents countywide advise their Supervisors that they care about such projects, too, then the safety of residents, water supplies, wildlife habitat and scenic places can be preserved.
Those who don’t speak out to save scenic treasures, public health and safety across our region may wake up one day to find a bad project coming to your community, too. Only by standing up to protect all communities can one expect others to speak up when your community’s future is on the line.