Let's hear it for not rushing: despite a unanimous do-dig recommendation from its planning and zoning committee earlier this month, the Lawrence County Commission yesterday said it needs another month to think about permitting Valentine Mining to dig up Spearfish Canyon for a little more gold. The mayors of Lead and Deadwood say dig and bring the mining jobs... which, at an average salary of $52,000 a year, make me wonder if I should give up teaching French and bring my pickaxe when we head back to Spearfish next month.
Mark Nelson, a partner in Valentine's Deadwood Standard Project, told the commission that South Dakota has good environmental regulations in place to protect the water and land in Spearfish Canyon. Local opponents take little comfort in that assurance:
"South Dakota laws gave us Brohm. They gave us Wharf. They gave us every single one of these mines that leak," said Gary Heckenlaible, community organizer for ACTion For the Environment. "This is the crown jewel of the Black Hills. Tourists come up here ... We're going to sacrifice all that to mine some more gold?" [Aaron Orlowski, "Lawrence County Delays Decision on Gold Mine Permit," Rapid City Journal, 2012.07.24]
The commissioners are still taking public comment on the proposed mine, so whether you're concerned about dust, dippers, or dollars, contact your Lawrence County commissioners and tell them how to manage the precious resources of Spearfish Canyon.