News And Updates
Published By: Herald Tribune
More than seven years into a battle to expand their Four Corners phosphate mine in northeastern Manatee County, officials at Mosaic Co. are offering to sweeten the deal by building a new park and fire station for the neighboring community of Duette.
Depending on your point of view, the donation is a magnanimous act or a cynical ploy. One thing is clear, however: The proposed gifts aren't relevant to the county's review of the mining application.
Last month, the county Planning Commission postponed making a recommendation on Mosaic's request to add roughly 2,000 acres, known as the Altman tract, to the Four Corners mine. The panel sought the delay to learn more about the county planning staff's objections to the application. The staff recommends denying the application, which will be reconsidered by the Planning Commission next Thursday, because the strip-mining would destroy about 400 acres of wetlands. Manatee regulations prohibit the destruction of wetlands unless there is "overriding public benefit."
Under state law, Mosaic would have to replace the wetlands once the mining is completed. But there's considerable doubt that mining companies can -- as Karen Collins-Fleming, the county's environmental management director, points out --"replicate nature in its diversity and complexity."
The Altman tract lies in the headwaters of Horse Creek, one of six major tributaries to the Peace River, a significant source of drinking water for our region.
A park and a fire station undoubtedly would benefit Duette. But they shouldn't be weighed as justification for altering wetlands important to the health of Horse Creek and the Peace River.