A meeting to provide the public an opportunity to comment on potential ecological projects to be funded by the ASARCO settlement money will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 at Serenity HospiceCare, 5272 Flat River Road, in Park Hills.
On Monday it was announced that the initial Oct. 5 deadline for public comment regarding the proposed use of the Natural Resource Restoration Project funds has been extended until Oct. 15 once the public, as well as local and state elected officials learned that the funds might be diverted from St. Francois and other nearby counties to purchase land in Oregon County for development of a new state park.
The funds are part of a cash settlement made by ASARCO for damage done to the environment in the Big River Watershed of St. Francois County. At a poorly advertised meeting held last month, state officials discussed the proposed purchase of Frederick Creek Ranch in Oregon County for the creation of a 2,463-acre state park.
Oregon County is located in the southernmost part of the state, west of Poplar Bluff.
Notice of that meeting was placed solely on the Missouri Department of Natural Resources website. The Oct. 13 meeting is being widely advertised through the media and other means, as well as appearing on the DNR website.
Attending the meeting will be representatives of DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.
Calling the effort undertaken to both extend the public comment period and to have a second public meeting “an endeavor,” Missouri Rep. Linda Black, R-Park Hills, said she is grateful that both of the requests were granted.
“I appreciate DNR for extending the comment period until Oct. 15 and acting on the second request to provide another public forum for comments and concerns regarding the projects involving the ASARCO settlement,” she said. “DNR has understood that the communities didn’t feel that they had adequate input and that now this is a second opportunity for them to present their projects and hopefully get those in our local and surrounding areas on the list of those funded from the settlement.
“The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for the general public and community leaders in areas affected by environmental damages as part of the ASARCO settlement to voice their concerns and present projects that can help with remediation and restoring ecological damages in their areas.
“If the public does have a concern about the settlement and input to restore those communities that were impacted environmentally by the old mining practices, it’s their time to bring their project ideas, along with those community leaders who have been working on ideas in their own communities for quite some time. It is open to the public and I think it’s a time that we need to appreciate this second opportunity that the trustees have given us.”
To get there, at the entrance of Mineral Area College, take a left at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Headquarters. Serenity will be the third building straight ahead.
To comment by email about the proposed plan, contact the following: Eric Gramlich, CERCLA/OPA NRDAR section chief of Missouri DNR, at firstname.lastname@example.org; John Webber, Environmental Contaminants specialist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at email@example.com; and Becky Bryan, Mark Twain National Forest remediation coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org by the Oct. 15 deadline.
“DNR has understood that the communities didn’t feel that they had adequate input …” — Rep. Linda Black
Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or email@example.com