1. Why the concern about the removal of the 67,000 trees - weren't they planted with the intention of harvest and for economic profit?
The 67,000 trees were planted in part by the Conservation authority with the intention of being "sustainably harvested". The owner (past and present) of the property has received a tax break in exchange for managing the forest using a forest management plan that is approved by a certified forestry expert in Ontario. The tax break is intended to encourage land owners to grow healthy forests for the benefit of all Ontarians. Clear cutting the entire forest to make way for a quarry is NOT a sustainable use and does not represent an example of a good forest management practice.
2. I have heard that there is a large plantation of Butternut trees in a conservation area in Cambridge Ontario. Why are we so concerned with the Butternut when it's only a small number of trees on the proposed site?
Butternuts have been put on the endangered list due to their numbers globally, country wide and provincially. As with any endangered species, there will be pockets of populations in certain places that are higher than others. The butternut is susceptible to a form of disease which makes it especially vulnerable despite high numbers in a local area. It is also important to note that within species, there is genetic diversity which brings with it increased viability for the species as a whole. The butternuts that exist in the plantation may not be from the same gene pool as those on the proposed site. Therefore, from a biodiversity point of view, the individual specimens may be important. This cannot be determined without further study and especially not if the specimens on site are destroyed.
3. I have heard that a number of endangered butternut trees were transplanted by the company to remove them from the poposed extraction area and that some have since died.
PERL is monitoring the health of the transplanted trees that are visible to our experts. We will advise the public of their status as it becomes known. PERL is deeply troubled by the companies action in this regard.
UPDATE: Aug 2008 - It now appears that the larger butternut transplanted to the south west of the southwest woodland has died. As of August, it was completely devoid of foliage. Our experts are analyzing the situation and will advise us of their opinion this coming spring (2009)
UPDATE: Feb 13, 2009 - The JART report released this week makes mention and seems to confirm that two of the transplanted endangered Butternut trees have died.
4. Nelson aggregate suggests that the Niagara Escarpment plan "directs" new quarries to the Niagara Escarpment rural area - is this true?
The suggestion that the NEP "directs" quarrying to the rural area is highly misleading. This suggests that the Niagara Escarpment area is targetted for new quarry development within the context of the creation of the NEP. Nothing could be further from the truth! The NEP was created to protect the escarpment. Period. Quarrying on the escarpment is only allowed with an amendment to the Niagara Escarpment plan. It was set up this way to make it more difficult for people to develop it. By their nature, plan ammendments are difficult undertakings and are meant to discourage the activity they govern. The legislation was not created to direct people to quarry there. On the contrary, if one were to list the 10 least desirable places to quarry, the NEP area (as would all world biosphere reserves) would most certainly top the list - with the greenbelt plan area following closely behind. These areas were created to protect the environment not to promote industrial development by any stretch of the imagination!!
5. Nelson Aggregate suggests that there will be a net gain in habitat from development of the new quarry - how can that be?
In our opinion, the suggestion of removing the ecosystem almost completely from a 250 acre site then creating man-made improvements to the remaining existing semi-naturalized area and calling this a net gain is ludicrous! PERL suggests that leaving it in it's current state, and perhaps augmenting the existing site with a more diversified tree population to reflect it's previous natural condition and completely re-habilitating the existing quarry is the only way to achieve a true net gain in ecological function.
6. Why is PERL so concerned with this strip mine quarry – aren’t they just an “interim use”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. A typical quarry operates for several generations. (35 years or more) No reasonable person would characterize a generation “interim”. Once the quarry is finished extraction operations, it leaves a permanent mark on the landscape, will have fundamentally changed the hydro-geologic characteristics of the area and will have done permanent damage to the ecosystem that once existed there and the land will never again be able to be used for agriculture, forestry or housing or any other terrestrial endeavor.
7. What can I do to stop this from going forward
Write letters to your local politicians, tell them about your experiences with the existing quarry. Tell them about the adverse impact this will have on the environment, species at risk and the potential impacts on our water quality and supply. Remind them of what happened in Walkerton. Join PERL, donate to PERL, Volunteer with PERL, talk to as many people as you can about these issues and get them to do the same
8. Wonít forcing the quarry to close cause economic hardship to the company and itís employees?
This quarry has had over 20 years since the inception of the NEP to formulate an orderly exit from this area with a minimum of disruption to their employees and business continuity. They have known for several years that their supplies are running low and have had every opportunity to explore options outside the escarpment. There is/are still 6 or more years in which to execute an orderly, graceful and environmentally friendly exit from this area and make good on a promise made to residents from over 50 years ago. As a corporation that has been in business for many years, they are well aware of the methods with which to execute an effective and minimally disruptive exit strategy
9. What about all the money they have spent on real estate and studies etc? Wonít that cause them financial hardship?
Real estate prices in our area have risen steadily since the quarry purchased the properties that constitute the proposed extraction area. They will not lose a penny on their real estate. Although the dollars they stand to gain on a real estate transaction are lower than the product of extraction, they must realize that if they are allowed to extract, they will be devaluing other properties in their area. PERL doubts that the amounts spent on studies to date are even close to the gains to date on real estate. The resolution to leave the area would serve to enhance real estate values of their site and those of surrounding residents even more
10. Wonít getting aggregate off the escarpment contribute more to air pollution from trucks traveling greater distances?
There are plenty of sources of high quality aggregate within a reasonable distance to our market place that are off the escarpment - the escarpment is a narrow band on average less than 7 km wide - hardly enough to make a difference. More importantly however, a renewed focus on the three Rís would result in the need for virgin aggregate being reduced to the point that it would not be necessary to get material from the escarpment. It is also important to note, some studies suggest trucks climbing up and or /down steep grades contributes even more pollutants to our atmosphere than trucks traveling on smooth grades for much greater distances. Given that the escarpment by definition is a steep grade, and the escarpment area characterized by steep hills and valleys, the net emissions from sources off the escarpment (even though distances may be slightly greater) may actually be less.
11. Isn’t this just more NIMBYism (Not in my backyard ism)
In this case, our backyard (so to speak) also happens to be designated by the United Nations as a “World Biosphere Reserve”. Good science, sensitive ecological conditions and rich cultural and natural heritage taken together make the Mt Nemo area worthy of a sustainable future. When your backyard is recognized by the global scientific and cultural community as a unique area that is to be protected, it is very important to uphold the spirit of that designation. Our credibility on the worlds stage is at stake, but more importantly, our survival as a species depends increasingly on these areas. PERL intends to uphold (to the fullest extent) the spirit of this designation. After all, if we humans can’t protect a measly 7x256KM strip of land, we hold little hope for humanity