I know you realize that I am not going away. The purpose of this email is to light a fire at TDEC. The mining company is planning to submit a SMCRA application in the third quarter of 2010. I saw the recent TDEC website notice of additional land for the Cumberland Trail State Park’s southern section. The water quality of this section of the park will play a key role in its economic development of the park. The environment concerns associated with acid mine drainage upon the capitol dollar investment by the state of TN depends upon water quality in the Rock Creek section of the park. This has been a standing position for protecting our state parks at TDEC. It was established by former TDEC Commissioner Hamilton and Deputy Commissioner Justin Wilson. The citizens of the Rock Creek watershed are only asking that our rights under the Water Quality Control Act be enforced. As like in 1978 with the LUM Part A designation of the entire watershed. And, TDEC’s efforts in the past 23 years to continue water quality improvements in the Rock Creek watershed. This is our Alamo.
I am attaching a map of the past mining sites in the northern Rock Creek LUM area. The lighter green was where exploration drilling was done. The drilling permit area is only 250 acres. The Tier 2 Suzanne Branch and Hall Creek are not marked on map. The Walden Ridge Subdivision surrounds the large lake on the map (right bottom). Horn Creek is the habitat of the Laurel Dace.
The company is looking at a potential 1700 surface coal mining operation in this area. The future mining site maybe almost seven (7) time bigger then the light green tract. They now claim as much as 28,000 acres of mineral options.
And, a greater concern will be the company now having all of the Benchmark properties. Benchmark’s properties are next to the Cumberland Trail State Park (to the south).
TDEC’s concerns should be that once Rock Creek falls, the two sub-watersheds of Fall Creek Falls having the same designation as the Rock Creek watershed, will be next. TN Consolidated Coal Company has already tried once to mine. They would be seeking the same consideration as Americas Energy Corporation.
I fully understand that TDEC can not do anything until a NPDES permit is submitted, but TDEC can start looking at its options here. The ever-ending fear of “takings” lawsuits and efforts to do away with the TN Nuisance Law leaves you with very little to fight to protect the Rock Creek watershed. I hope that TDEC will review its options. I appreciate the efforts of Bobby Fulcher and his staff is building the Cumberland Trail State Park to nationwide recognition that the National Trail Conference will be held Chattanooga this year. TDEC should plan to showcase its Cumberland Trail State Park and the growing recreational industry of Chattanooga at this conference, not a surface coal mining site next to the Rock Creek section.
TDEC should consider requesting a full EIS since this will be the first SMCRA application in a Tennessee LUM area. TDEC should work with Fish and Wildlife Service to designate the Horn Creek’s Laurel Dace. The Rare Species of Rock Creek should be protected. TDEC should en-act its guidelines in the Responsible Mining Act of 2009. All of the watershed needs ONRW protection. It is considered by some as the last pristine streams on Walden Ridge.
Until next time. I hope that citizens and state agencies and state lawmakers can work together to protect 23 years of water improvements
and future land use for the Cumberland Trail State Park and the citizens in the Rock Creek Watershed.
For the citizens of the Rock Creek watershed (SOCM’s Bledsoe Chapter),
Landon MedleyCLICK ON THIS LINKhttp://www.waldensridgewhitewater.com/images/maps/rockcreekmap.pdf