Covelo Gravel Project Withdrawn

I spent last week compiling, organizing, and confirming the horde of information regarding the advent of the Grist Creek Aggregates proposed gravel mine in Covelo to write the (belated) next article in what was to be a series of articles on the project. Despite the fact that the hearing before the Board of Supervisors was to have been this Tuesday the 23rd of August, it still made sense to write the article as the informed murmuring going around was that there was a good chance the Board would give it the green light and that it would be subsequently appealed in the courts.

So on the final day of my research, last Friday (giving myself the weekend to write the article), I met with my last interviewee at 8:30 in the morning and by noon was in the lovely and still new-feeling Covelo library doing Internet inquiries on the last big thread of the story that had only recently and surprisingly come to light — the very confusing status of the property viz. a recent notice, posted on the fence of said property, that it was in default and would be auctioned this coming Thursday on the Ukiah County Courthouse steps (still true? don't know), and the subsequent discovery it was and had been for some time for sale.

Papers spread out all over the table I'd commandeered — including the oversized piece of paper I'd attempted to chart the course of events that would bring the reader (hopefully) up to speed with the proposed mine and the people behind it, its vapor-trailed passage through the Planning Commission — profoundly uncertain of my ability to put the pieces of the puzzle together, of my desire to do so and draw myself deeper into what has become a very un-fun ordeal here in Covelo, I received an email marked double urgent. It contained a scanned copy of a letter dated August 19, stamped by the engineer who developed the proposal and by the County as being received, which read, “On behalf of Grist Creek Aggregates, LLC, this letter is to request that the referenced project be withdrawn from further consideration by Mendocino County.”

And with something like the suddenness of the project's appearance it had disappeared. Could it be true? It seemed, in the face of the grim determination I'd worked myself into to forge ahead with the article, impossible. I made phone calls and texts to confirm from at least two sources that the emailed letter from the engineer wasn't a hoax or a willed hallucination.

It was true, the letter was real.

So I gathered up my papers, stuffed them in my backpack, made phone calls and sent emails to folks helping me with the research (“It's over!”) and after saying good-bye to the librarian, left on slightly wobbly legs to hurry up and catch visiting friends on their way to the river.

Is this the end or simply the end of a first volley? This writer does not know. Over the course of the Blackberry Festival weekend this writer heard amidst the Saturday night square dance, while doing his usual stint in the wine booth, while hanging out with the folks gathering funds for the hopefully-to-come-to-fruition Covelo radio station (for info and donations go to coveloradio.org), heard a variety of spirited conjecture and possibly true scuttlebutt. But this writer, by way of closing, genuinely assures you that he hopes this is the last article he writes about this whole affair.

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