This is an early save-the-date notification about an important meeting on December 18, 2017. Following is the schedule for the next few months of crucial commissioner meetings in Union Co. All meetings are to take place at 15 NE 1st Street, Lake Butler, FL 32054 | (386) 496-4241). this is the regular meeting place of the board of county commissioners, and is the Union County courthouse.
On December 18 the moratorium will be discussed and also the Mining Comprehensive Plan Amendment. No vote will be taken at this meeting by the commissioners, but it would be great if you came out and told them that you support them, and thank them for standing firm against the mine.
We have been told by locals that the Union County commissioners have been subjected to pressure from HPS II personnel or their lawyer, to turn and support the mine. Some of the commissioners are friends and neighbors and/or went to school with some of the family of the mine proponents and are under immense pressure to give in to the mine. They need your support, and at the very least we must come out and thank them for doing the right thing for the future of Bradford County and the generations to come who will enjoy the Santa Fe River.
On January 16, 2018, the extension of the moratorium will be discussed and the final vote will be taken. The Comprehensive Plan Amendment will be discussed for transmittal to Tallahassee for review. Please come to this meeting and tell the commissioners that you hope they will extend this moratorium until December of 2018 to give the county time to amend their LDRs to discourage phosphate mining there.
Way down the line, at the April 16, 2018 meeting, the commissioners will discuss and vote on approving or rejecting the Mining Comprehensive Plan. This is an important meeting and will perhaps make or break what happens in Union County regarding mining for phosphate. Depending on the results, mining in Bradford could also be affected, either positively or negatively.
Above all, please keep in mind that this threat of a phosphate mine in Union and Bradford Counties is the most egregious threat to date to our Santa Fe River and its environs. If this mine becomes reality, our river could be destroyed for generations to come in one day, in one storm, in one accident that we know happens in the mining industry.
We have seen what has happened when Mosaic destroyed the Alafia River by an “accidental” spill. Working mines have accidents. They say “sorry” and continue on. The damage stays on for generations, but the company continues on making money at the citizens’ expense.
We have heard arguments supporting the mine which say” all we have in Hamilton County is the PCS mine.” Or, “Mosaic is the only employer we have down here.” Stop and ask yourself, why is that? What else is left after a mine comes in? And in the case of Hamilton County, where the phosphate is running out, what will happen then? What is left? If we think of our future, we will not want a mine.
No company has the right to put at risk our natural resources. Phosphate companies get permits to draw down our aquifer and dry up our springs, and they have accidents that pour poison into our drinking water. They do not have the right to contaminate our world in their quest to make money. No product that they produce is more valuable than our springs and rivers. We need our natural resources more than we need their phosphate and fertilizer.
Please be aware that if we do nothing (and here “we” means you) the mine will happen. The mine will go in and rip up the land and destroy the vegetation and the wildlife, the drainage system, and everything living there. And afterwards, nothing will ever be the same.
We must act, we must take the effort to go to Lake Butler and Starke and tell the people in power, that we do not want this mine. Please come to these meetings and help stop this destructive intent.
If you value our rivers and springs, come out to these meetings and voice your opinion. That is what these meetings are for.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-