Environment not only thing at risk with proposed gravel pit/asphalt plant


Park County has a stable economy and growing per-capita income. The largest amount of employment is found in food and accommodations. In 2014, $35,000,000 was earned in this sector. Recreation and tourism account for 22 percent of labor income in Park County. According to the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, Park County experienced $196,000,000 in non-resident tourism revenue in 2014. 

In 2015, 760,166 visitors traveled via the Paradise Valley Highway 89 corridor en route to Yellowstone National Park, making use of area restaurants, retailers and lodging. As the only year-round Park entry point, and being strategically placed near Interstate 90, Livingston and Paradise Valley experience a high rate of vehicular traffic. Yellowstone National Park had 4.1 million visitors in 2015, and 2016 visits have increased by 5.6 percent, year to date.

From Public Opinion Strategies: Montana Business Survey, “73% of business owners say we can protect land and water and have a strong economy with good jobs.” The Main Street Montana Project recommendations to Governor Bullock states the “Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITTR) data show that the majority of vacationers are attracted to Montana for mountains and forests, open space, and rivers.”

These statistics thoroughly demonstrate the viability of recreation related business in Paradise Valley. Within a 1.5-mile radius of the proposed gravel pit and asphalt plant site lie five lodging operations. Within 3 miles are two restaurants with outdoor seating. All of these facilities may suffer economically should a noisy, odor producing industrial operation be allowed so near.

Local property values may deflate, as why would anyone want to buy a home within earshot of a gravel pit with a noisy crushing operation, the sound of which will reverberate off the backing, buffalo jump? 

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) found homeowners and a church in Pineola, North Carolina, experienced deflated property values after installation of an asphalt plant up to .6 miles away. The reduction reported by the Avery County Tax Department in 2001 shows a $148,000 loss and an average 27 percent drop in value for 13 properties. 

At risk here are not only the aesthetics, health, purity of air and water but also the values of personal homes and viability of businesses. In 2012 the Park County taxable property value was $38,000,000. Fourteen Yellowstone River waterfront parcels are valued at $9,442,940. There could be a substantial reduction in this number, and in the value of business revenues, should the proposed gravel pit and asphalt plant be allowed to operate. The long-term stability and economic viability of the Emigrant area of Paradise Valley is of greater value than the profits to be made by an out-of-town extraction company.

Jerry Ladewig