On or about May 9, 1999, I received a package from Jones and Demille Engineering of Richfield. This engineering company apparently represents the Sufco Coal mining business. Their package contained a topographical map of the Sufco coal interests, locations of their access routes, and a proposed new road and modifications of the old dirt road down the Quitchupah Creek. It also contained a quick-claim deed granting 1.682 acres of my ranch to the county. Far more disturbing than these items was a letter advising me to accept $500 per acre: "Ã¯Â¿Â½ recommends that you diligently consider this offer and avoid both the county [Sevier] and yourself the expense associated with condemnation proceedings." The land in question is my only access to the creek and the road, $500 is not even close to covering the impacts.
I received a letter from Kent R. Petersen, chairman of the Emery County Commission, on June 1, 1999. Petersen stated Emery County has no plans to initiate condemnation proceedings for improving Quitchupah Creek Road. I hope this continues to be the sentiment. I have no expectation of a similar letter of assurances from Sevier County.
When I called Jones and Demille and asked about the significant archeological sites that would be in the way of their new road, they replied that, "The petroglyphs would be moved to a museum."This, I believe, is against the Antiquities Act, a federal law.
In a recent newspaper article in the Emery County Progress, Jan. 15, 2002, it identified "seven significant archeological sites" being in harms way if this road is to built. David Sucec, director, BCS project, stated in the May 16, 2000 Emery County Progress that the "Quitchupah Creek Junction Rock Art Site' will be destroyed if the proposed coal haul road is allowed to be built in the canyon."
The second alternative follows Quitchupah Road but meets Highway 10 at a different point; where, I do not know. Quoting the same January 2002 article: "This route involves fencing along the road with five underpasses for cattle and game. Ã¯Â¿Â½ This route has 29 archeological site swith 11 that will be impacted and six of these are considered significant." The third plan, the Water Hollow route includes, "19 archeological sites all of which can be avoided." I have serious doubts that these sites will not be impacted. The sites encompass everything in sight and within hearing distance.
Try as I may to see the coal mines perspective, it comes down to just money. There is no evidence that the known (and heaven forbid unknown) sites figure in any positive way with the coal mine's plans. Our heritage and pre-history are just irritants and impediments to their profits. Sufco's apparent hiring of an engineering company to employ scare tactics by sending threatening letters does not impress me. This sets the tones of their plan and it reads like a bad western novel: Scare the landowners off their property and those who don't sell out and move on will face a "hip pocket" government commission and have their lands condemned. Either way, you lose. And we all lose!
This coal mine will be played out or made obsolete sometime in the future and we will be stuck with permanent scars on our land, the loss of prehistorical artifacts, and bad memories of the big company inciting division of the peaceful citizens by pushing its way towards profits. It is time for putting your feet down and taking a stand.
Just say no to Sufco.