Liberty Quarry Faces Opposition
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Aired 2/1/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Matt Rahn Field Stations Program, SDSU
Ken Dickson, Riverside County resident
The Riverside Planning Department may take its final vote next Monday on Granite Construction’s plan to open a major quarry on Interstate 15, south of Temecula. Liberty Quarry's issues have lingered for years and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent by proponents and opponents.
Matt Rahn, director of research and education at San Diego State University's Field Stations Programs, told KPBS television’s Evening Edition that the quarry site is important to the university’s research.
SDSU operates a research and education laboratory at the quarry, Rahn said.
“For the last half century we’ve been able to maintain a strong presence in environmental, natural sciences, physical sciences research, and so we’d like to be able to maintain that ability into the future,” he said.
But Ken Dickson, a Riverside County resident and member of the Murietta School Board, said developing the quarry is important to the area’s economic interests.
“This project is a classic case of a balance between economic development and environmental interests, everybody knows that,” he said. “Certainly both sides do.”
That’s in part because it is becoming harder to find rock for future construction in San Diego County, so providing that rock will be a boon to Dickson’s community. According to a report this year by the San Diego Association of Governments, the number of quarries in the county has fallen from almost 50 in 1980 to 16 now.
Dickson said opening the quarry would help Murietta’s budget.
“This is a regional asset,” he said. “Royalties are potentially left in the ground that would help with our budget.”
But Rahn added that the project represents serious impacts to the region. The Pechanga Band of Indians has said the project is on sacred land and is sponsoring state legislation to defeat the quarry.
The City of Temecula and environmental groups are also opposed, and previous planning meetings on the issue have drawn hundreds of people.
Dickson said he has researched the project himself and is satisfied it is environmentally sound, as are county staff and regulators.
“My guess is, by the nature of these arguments, this will probably be litigated, but we hope not,” he said.