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Moline, IL 61265
Capital Resources Development Company, 222 North LaSalle, Suite 800, Chicago, Illinois 60601, has applied for and has been issued a permit by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to operate a coal mine at the location listed below:
Sections 14 & 15, Township 6 North, Range 5 East, near Banner, Fulton County, Illinois UTM NAD-83 Zone 16, Northing 4487587, Easting 252977; Copperas Creek, Illinois River Mile 138.5.
The applicant proposes to open and operate a surface coal mining operation encompassing 643.2 acres (Proposed Permit Area) of property south of the Village of Banner. The purpose of the project is to extract coal from the Colchester #2 coal seam.
We the undersigned believe that the IDNR issued this permit without due consideration of its ecological impact and that, if the mining proceeds as proposed, it will be in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service should be aware that eagles nest in the adjacent Rice Lake conservation area and large numbers of bald eagles roost in that area every winter. The USFWS should also be aware that approximately 24 acres of Decurrent False Asters, a federally and state threatened plant, are growing in an approximately 24 acre field in the center of the proposed mining property.
Other state endangered species also use the area.
Osprey nest nearby at Banner Marsh, one of only three currently used sites in the entire state of Illinois.
Short-eared Owls have been observed flying from the proposed mine area into the adjacent Banner Marsh.
Northern Harriers have frequently been observed flying over the proposed mining area.
King Rail have been both seen and heard near the proposed mining area.
Geese, Ducks, Coots, Cormorants, Herons, and Pelicans all use this area during spring and fall migration.
Decurrent False Aster, a federal and state threatened species, abounds in a field in the center of the proposed mining area.
The proposed mining plans include blasting the coal from the ground during the winter months when eagles would be roosting nearby. The blasting will surely disturb them. Eagles begin their nesting activities in the winter. The blasting at the proposed mining site will disturb the nesting eagles.
The osprey, which have nested at nearby Banner Marsh State Fish & Wildlife Area for the past five years, are very sensitive to human activity now, while no mining is going on just across the dikes around Copperas Creek. They will surely be disturbed by mining activity so close to the nest.
Short-eared owls use the area for winter foraging and roosting. The blasting during the winter on the proposed area will disturb these endangered birds that need more, not less habitat to survive in this state. The short-eared owls may be using the proposed mining site as a roosting site. No one has done a survey to find out.
King rail, another endangered species found in the area, will surely be disturbed by the mining activity, as will the thousands of Geese, Ducks, Coots, Cormorants, and Pelicans that use this sensitive area during spring and fall migration.
The field of decurrent false asters is in the center of the proposed mining area. If mining proceeds as proposed, the ground in that area will be removed and piled into a storage area. The aster seeds will be destroyed, the fertile ground upon which they thrive will be destroyed, and the asters will never thrive in this area again.
Then consider the hydrology of the area. According to the hydrologist hired by the petitioners in preparation for hearings being held at the IDNR, if the proposed mining takes place, the water from Banner Marsh will likely drain into the proposed mining area, which will, according to the proposed mining plans, then be pumped into holding ponds before being released into Rice Lake.
The mine discharge water will contain toxic heavy metals. These tend to concentrate up the food chain, so that fish, and birds which prey on the fish, such as Bald Eagles and Osprey, will be at significant risk for heavy metal poisoning, as will people who consume the fish. These metals include lead, cadmium, selenium, and arsenic. The Bald Eagles roosting and nesting at Rice Lake feed on fish in the deep lakes and will be consuming these poisons if the mining activity proceeds.
The USFWS must, by law, investigate whether the mining will be in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and, if it finds the activity will be in violation, the USFWS must stop the mining before it begins to destroy this sensitive habitat.
We the undersigned believe such an investigation has not happened, and that, if the USFWS waits to investigate until after the mining has commenced, it will be too late to save the habitat for the migratory birds using the Illinois River migratory flyway; moreoverly, it will be too late to save the habitat for the state endangered bald eagles, osprey, short-eared owls, and northern harriers and the threatend decurrent false asters. We implore the USFWS to begin an investigation immediately and stop the mining activity before it harms the eagle roosting and nesting habitat and destroys the habitat where a minimum of 24 acres of decurrent false asters are thriving.
We also request that you investigate the disappearance of one of the eagle nests near the proposed mine site. A nest that eagles used in 2006 and part of 2007 was destroyed during the winter of 2007/2008. Some person destroyed that nest, and it is our belief that the USFWS has not investigated this blatant violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this important issue.