Letter to the Editor: The effect of sand/aggregate mine on property values

As a North Portola resident, I was alarmed and horrified to receive notification in late November that Plumas County is considering a permit to allow a massive mining operation in my backyard. The location of the proposed open pit mine is 60 feet from my backdoor. Such a venture endangers local citizens on so many levels. This is an issue beyond generating income for the County.

What creates a city, a community, or a county? It is way more than roads, buildings, or utilities. People make a city, a community, a county. Without people the physical infrastructure has no use. It is called a “ghost town.” The infrastructure that people create allows the physical infrastructure to work.

North Portola is filled with people that make the physical infrastructure viable: doctors, nurses, teachers, forest service employees, first responders, utilities personnel, pest control providers, building contractors, local school and FRC staff, business owners, and many more. These people make a difference. They are responsible. They work hard to promote community development and integrity. They live and work locally. They invested in Plumas County. Plumas County approved their building locations and, in many instances, well locations. Plumas County needs to honor their dedication by keeping their home investments safe.

Research has been done to illustrate the impact of open gravel pits on property values. Diane Hite, an economics professor at Auburn University in 2006, authored such a study. In “Impact of Operational Gravel Pit on House Values,” she found a definite statistical correlation between property distance from gravel pits and property sale price.


Findings include:
Adjacent to a pit–30% loss in value,

One mile away–14.5% loss, Two miles away–8.9% loss, and Three miles away–4.9% loss.

North Portola homes and property would lose 30% to 14.5% of their current property value given their closeness to the proposed open pit mine site. The two- to three-mile category would encompass the entire town of Portola with losses of 8.9% to 4.9%.

Reasons for loss of home value would include:

  1. Drinking water contamination,
  2. Aquifer depletion with subsequent loss of residential wells,
  3. Intolerable noise pollution damaging mental, physical and

    emotional health,

  4. Air quality degradation destroying citizen’s health,
  5. Light pollution annihilating country atmosphere,
  1. Vibrations of heavy equipment, dump truck transportation,and blasting degrading citizen’s well-being along with aggravating the existing earthquake fault line,
  2. Erosion and potential flooding from mine sediment pond,
  3. Fire danger, and
  4. Community safety

These are just a few reasons why a sand/aggregatemine with an asphalt plant, a lime plant, a rock crushing plant, on-site diesel storage for 10,000 gallons of fuel and 55 gallon-drums of hydraulic and transmission fluids along with a large sediment pond (450’) for particulates and potential toxins adjacent to a residential community is a terrible and harmful idea. The miners are requesting permission to use 50,000 gallons of water per day (the daily use for170 homes) as well. The specter of living near a mine of this size creates enormous mental, physical, and emotional stress for citizens.

Living in Plumas County has enriched the lives of North Portola Residents. Our living in Plumas County has enriched the County infrastructure and foundation. Plumas County must respect the investment that we have made. It is the County’s responsibility to Vote NO on this permit to create an extensive open pit mine (410’ cliffs covering 256 acres) which would destroy North Portola and the City of Portola as we know it. Choose to keep Plumas County and North Portola vibrant.



Valari Simison
Plumas County Resident, 42 years
Elementary School Teacher/Plumas County School District, 23 years Book Coordinator Eastern Plumas Angel Program, 6 years