A proposed sand and gravel mining operation, Oakridge Farm LLC., threatens operations of the Department of Environmental Conservation's Hale Creek Field Station, located off Steele Avenue Extension in the town of Johnstown.
The proposed 15-acre gravel pit could be up to 80 feet deep and located about 100 feet from the state property. Without doubt, it will create loud noises, strong vibrations and much gravel dust that will pose a threat to very sensitive analytical instrumentation used at the field station to monitor pesticides and heavy metals in fish and wildlife statewide.
The unwanted dust will eventually cover the field station buildings, staff vehicles and surrounding trees, ruining the general aesthetic appearance of this picturesque former fish hatchery. There also could be more subtle deleterious air and water quality issues caused by the mining operation.
The many individuals and families who for years have visited the field station property will no longer want to view the trout ponds or use the marked hiking trails due to the accumulated dust and ruined natural setting. The gravel pit also could mean an end to educational programs such as "Water Resources Day," which has been held outdoors at Hale Creek for at least the past 25 years. This annual program, which is staffed by field station scientists, educates 80 to 160 fifth-graders from local schools on water quality and related fish and wildlife issues.
The town of Johnstown already has four or five sand and gravel pits nearby and I question the need for more, especially in the growing residential neighborhood on Steele Avenue Extension. New York state and town of Johnstown residents should not have to risk losing the field station and all its benefits due to an unnecessary gravel pit.
Residents are encouraged to speak up and let their opposition be heard by the Johnstown Town Supervisor and members of the Johnstown Town Board and Planning Board.
Retired aquatic biologist
and field station coordinator