Independent from Long Beach, California on March 18, 1976 · Page 20
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Independent from Long Beach, California · Page 20

Long Beach, California
Issue Date:
Thursday, March 18, 1976
Page 20
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.-.··'A-2(MNDEPENDENT (AM) PRESS-TELEGRAM (PM) i. c»i».. TIIUH., Mircn n. i Miners, Park Service fight lover usage of Death Valley TODAY'S WORLD ·;; By BRENDAN RILEY '·'·' DEATH VAI1EY (AI) -- Perched on the rim nf a . aiO-foot-deep pit mine, the mine boss complains that furor over his work in this starkly beautiful d e s e r t 1 could result in "this country 'environmenling' itself '""right out of some inipor- · -(ant minerals." ·'" In a U.S. Park Service office 12 miles away, a " r a n g e r points out ( h e mine's location in a heavily ( r a v e l e d s e c t i o n of D e a l h V a l l e y National Monument. He questions whether the sun-scorched area will remain a prime example of desert environment "or just what's left." THE M I N I N G controversy lias conic to a head as strip and open pit mining continues to expand in Hie 3,000-s(|iiare-mile area, named by pioneers who survived h e r e d e s p i t e scaring temperatures and a scarcity of water. T h e m i n i n g n o w produces abnul $15 million a year in borales -- miner- a l s u s e d f o r fiberglass products -- and talc. The numbers of surface mines has jumped from three to 11 in the. past two years, according to the P a r k Service. C o n g r e s s is weighing measures t h a t c a l l f o r moratoriums on any new mining activity. Bui no final decision has b e e n reached. The conlroyersy centers on a classic issue -- economic values versus (he desire to preserve an area famed both for grim grandeur and mineral wealth, especially in borates, called miners' "white gold." An estimated 220,000 tons of borates and talc are now being hauled from the valley yearly. And (here's apparently no legal way to halt the activity. The Park Service wants a moratorium of a b o u t ( h r e e y e a r s ( o m o v e expansion of (he mining to new locations. Rangers say that in one case a miner wants lo burrow for borales in an area overlooked by Zahriskic Point. THE POINT is a major totirisl attraction because of the sweeping view it provides of sall-cncrusled f l a l s and contorted b a d lands, showing layers of p i n k , g r e e n a n d clay- colored rock. J a m e s T h o m p s o n , s u p e r i n t e n d e n t of the Death Valley Monument, says the current mining goes teyond the intent of Congress which, shortly after (he monument was created in 19H, allowed mining to continue. He says Congress mostly wanted In let the colorful "single-blanket jackass prospector" keep scratching for ore as he had since Ihc Iffifls. But Greg Sparks, super- i n l e n d c n t o f T e n n e c o , Inc.'s, borate p i t n e a r Thompson's office at Furnace C r e e k , maintains that mining has always Iwen important here since pioneers f i r s t stumbled into Dcalh Valley. The f a m e d "20-mule team" borax wagons hauled ore from Ihe valley hack in the 1880s. B u t Thompson says t h a t between 18X2 and 1MO the v a l u e of mineral production in Dealh Valley was just S3 million. S p a r k s a r g u e s t h a t "people take offense at the idea of a mine within a national monument, but it's really pretty unobtrusive." The Tenneco pit isn't visible to motorisls traveling through Death Valley. But its (ailing dump can be seen -- its gray earth is a noticeable but not startling contrast to the pastel red and gold hues of sur- roundiiif! lulls. MINERS arc stripping away hills lo get at talc in southern sections of Dealh Valley. That's off the beaten track that takes most of the 700.000 annual visi- (ors here past the Furnace Creek area, T h e t a l e m i n e s a r c being run by Pfizer, Inc.; Jolms-Manvillc Corp., and Cyprus Industrial M i n e r - als. Sparks also s a y s he doesn't see "where (his area is unique anyway, ei- Iher to Ihe rest of Death Valley or e v e n lo I h e whole southwestern U.S. desert." Thompson v i e w s Sparks' outlook as "the idea that if something isn't green, it's worthless. That shows no respect or understanding for a desert ecology." HE SAYS once land is disturbed here, there's lit- lie chance of restoring it. W i l h an average of an inch and a half of rain yearly, w h a t planl l i f e there is can be killed off easily, and animals will scatter. Park service em- ployes fret about miners turning loose burros which can chew up vegctalion and about imported Irecs which can draw loo much water through their roots. Sparks figures lhat "if we had to find an ideal place for open-pit mining, ynu couldn't find a better place than this. There isn't any heavy growth l i k e you'd find in a forest area. The waste dumps look like Ihc resl of (he landscape. " M I N I N G ' S an economic necessity, and what we're doing here is a relatively small price lo pay," he added, "If mining in Uealh Valley isn't allowed lo expand, then it will shul down. Fiberglass products w i l l gel prohibitive in cost." Boralc mines h e r e ac- cmmt for 80 per cent of Ihe d o m e s t i c production of c o l c m a n i l e , a b o r a l e mineral used in making fiberglass and heal-rosisl- anl glass products. Other borales can be used, but processing cosls arc higher. Thompson says current mining is "like a mole or a warl on your face. It may only be in one spot but il affects everything." "We're in a posilion of seeing the values Ihe Park Service has established h e r e b e i n g r a p i d l y d e - stroyed," he says. "Aboul 200 acres of l a n d gels lolally destroyed every year." T h o m p s o n s a y s t h o u sands of acres could be legally m i n e d unless a moratorium is imposed. "The potential exists for m i n i n g the entire borale Officials poke holes' in thieves' intentions "ft* wen Qfowrng our own v»ge- lablei, loo, until w« realized all Ihe money we wen wiring wai golnB for liniment." zone. Thai's an 18-mile stretch in Furnace Creek Wash -- the scenic heart of Death Valley for many people." "There are about 200 claim groups with an active interest in Death Valley. And even though only a fourth of those claims might have mineral potent i a l , l h a t s t i l l m e a n s thousands of acres could be totally destroyed," he says. BAKERSFIELD (AP) Federal officials here are poking holes in the theory thai vandalism is all bad. They h a v e found t h a t bullet-riddled s i g n s are stolen less often than un- scarredones. After losing four or five brand new off-road signs in as m a n y months, Bureau of Land Management Ranger S t e v e S m i t h decided early this year to punch holes in Ihe signs before installation. CORRECTION Pound (Lb.) yas inadvertently omitted next to the price of each meat item in Fed //art's supplement in some editions of today's newspaper. We regret any inconvenience this may cause our shoppers. "The signs with holes just don't look as good lo thieves who want them for their wall al home. I guess [hat's why Steve's theory is working for us," said Lewis Boll, district m a n - ager of the Bakersfield BUI office. Before holes, the signs lasted about 10 days. Since becoming holey, they've stayed up three months. Among other things, Ihe signs prohibil motor vehicles on wilderness trails.' ujj*- 1 - *TM T CUP THE COUPONS ANt SAVE \ * ·: Chevrolet celebrates America's 2OO years Look for I h i s slicker on the windows of 1976 Vegas, MonaiTownc Coupes and Monzci 2+2's at y o u r Chevy dealer's... ;uul gel a good old American value. Your choice of ;iny $200' worlli of oplionul equipment (even optional engines) for $19.76. Now's the t i m e lo check out a '76 Mon/ii or Vega. 1976 SALE The first $2OO worth of options on this car for only $19.76 Manufacturer's Suoacsftt/ Riljil Price. MONZA .1 our H a \ e you seen our elegant new Mon/a Towne Coupe an European-inspired Mon/a 2 + 2'? W i l h standard features l i k e front disc brakes, torque arm rear suspension, and q u i e t h y d r a u l i c valve t i l l e r s on our D u r a - M u i l i 2.3 L i n e engine, ihese cars are some of the besi values you'll lind any year, l i u t right now they're e\en more so. Chevrolet VEGA The 1976 Vegas are really built to take it. Wilh standard features l i k e High Energy I g n i t i o n , new Helen l-'reedoiv, haltery t h a t ne\er needs water and our Dura-lhiili 140-cuhic-inch engine, they're designed to last. (Ask your Chevy dealer about our Vega and Monza D u r a - B u i l t engine guarantee.) You also eel a touch, corrosion-rcsisiant body and a refined disc/ d r u m brake sysiemT And d u r i n g our 1976 sale, you can get even more. l»-j

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