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State Plans to Revoke Permit of Avery County Mining Operation

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AVERY COUNTY — Many people travel to the Appalachian Trail in the North Carolina mountains. But some say part of its charm is being blown away.

TheN.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resourcesadmits it made a mistake when it issued a permit for a gravel mine near the Appalachian Trail. Now the state appears to be putting the brakes on the controversial mine.

TheDivision of Land Resourcestold the quarry's owner that it intends to revoke the mining permit.

"The public meeting had a lot to do with the decision to issue the intent to revoke. The residents brought up a lot of concerns that we weren't aware of," says Johanna Reese of the DENR.

Things really heated up afterthe public hearingMarch 16 in Newland. It appears the state has heard the opposition loud and clear.

"[I'm] elated and surprised and gratified at the decision," says Avery County resident Jay Leutze.

Leutze has been fighting for the trail and against the mine.

"When a state agency makes a mistake, we're going to find a way to correct it rather than let the Appalachian Trail or any other great state resource suffer," he says.

The notification from the state does not mean the mine will ultimately lose its permit. Clark Stone Company, the owner of the mine, will have an opportunity to meet with state officials in order to discuss possible modifications to retain the permit.

By telephone, owner Paul Brown declined to comment, saying "What more can I say?"

Meanwhile, work continues on Belview Mountain, and opponents say the fight is far from over.

"We will not rest. We want quiet on that mountain for the Appalachian Trail and for the adjoining land owners. And we want that mountain put back in the state it was before the mistake was made," says Leutze.

No timetable has been set for the mining company to respond. Meanwhile, residents say crews were hard at work at the mine Thursday.



Jay Jennings, Reporter
Jay Jennings, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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