Arcata’s asbestos quarry cover-up

RUBBLE STREWN Arcata’s remote rock quarry, now in rehab. Photo courtesy City of Arcata Environmental Services

RUBBLE STREWN Arcata’s remote rock quarry, now in rehab. Photo courtesy City of Arcata Environmental Services

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

JACOBY CREEK FOREST – When the City of Arcata acquired the $2.7 million Barnum Tract in 2003, it added 285 acres to the now-1,200-acre Jacoby Creek Forest.

The expansion came with a white elephant – a 15-acre rock quarry. The quarry came with uncertain commercial potential, a raft of regulations, a flurry of federal fees and an abundance of naturally occurring asbestos locked in its ultramafic rock.

A reclamation plan that came with the quarry was worse than useless – it was destructive. The brutal method by which the area had been cleared for mining – by simply bulldozing aside massive heaps of topsoil – was to be reversed by just pushing everything back in place over the exposed rock quarry.

But much of the moved soil has since grown back in with Douglas fir and redwood trees which would have to be taken out at great noise and expense.

“At this point, we’d have to cut acres of timber, which would expand the disturbed area,” said Environmental Services Director Mark Andre. “So we didn’t set back the clock by having to cut down all the trees.”

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