For a couple years when I was a little kid we lived in the copper mining town of Miami, Arizona where the evening’s entertainment was to watch lava-like slag being dumped on the top of the ever growing mountain called a “slag heap”. Miami was a mining town in the hills north east of Phoenix. The mine was pretty much the town. It was Miami’s reason for being. Even our grade school was named for the mine—Inspiration Addition Grade School, the original mine having been The Inspiration Mine.
In this photo you can actually see the old slag heap which, from the point of view of a seven year old, was one of wonders of the world. The open pit is behind it and, as the mine has expanded, stretches all the way to Globe. An open pit mine is an ugly thing and pretty much destroys the landscape. When we see photos of open pits we recoil.
The trouble with the open pit mine on Lummi Island is you can’t see it (Bellingham actually has a much more vivid view). However, the Lummi Island Conservancy is trying to shed some light on the situation which they do in this quite remarkable, locally made video which features people you know talking about the mine just beyond the borders of Scenic Estates.
I understand that the mine offers good employment but rules are rules or at least they used to be. Given the lawless behavior of our financial institutions and the Justice Department’s reluctance to pursue remedies against that behavior it’s possible that the rules don’t count any more. Whatcom County certainly gets their panties in a knot when a homeowner tries to do something without a permit as I learned when someone on the island suggested to the county that we might have needed a permit to connect our garage to our house. Whatcom County was on top of that one.
I hope they use the same standard of diligence in pursuing what our friends and neighbors in Scenic Estates have pointed out are violations of the rules governing the operation of a quarry.