Jesse Morrow Mountain at Center of Environmental Fight

Fresno, CA Angie Osborne sat among dozens of people at Sanger High School Thursday night. They were there to review the long awaited draft EIR report on the Jesse Morrow Mountain mine project, something the 81-year-old Clovis resident is against. She grew up below the mountain and says her Indian ancestors are still there. She said, "I don't want that mountain to be destroyed or anything around it. Also, if they take that mountain down, it will affect a lot of the children."

Cemex Construction wants to run a hard rock aggregate mining operation on the southern side of the mountain. Though the company would not speak on camera Thursday, in their proposal, they say that the operation is crucial because aggregate products used to make cement will run out in the future.

Opponents say the project will change the mountain's scenery, create more traffic on Highway 180, and pollute the air and nearby water resources.

Elaine Towne Lane lives at the base of Jesse Morrow Mountain and helps run an art gallery nearby. She said, "I'm not so strongly one way or the other, but i can't see the necessity for aggregate."

The draft EIR found that the proposed project will not pollute water in the area. But it did note several other environmental impacts. Fresno County Consultant Bruce Steubing said, "8 significant, unavoidable impacts on aesthetics, cultural resources, traffic and air, but there aren't anyone that screamed this is more environmentally damaging than any other one."

While many at Thursday's meeting say they will continue their fight, Angie Osborne is taking hers to a higher level. She wants Federal recognition for her people, the Choinumni tribe, in hopes that they can stop the Jesse Morrow mining project from moving forward. Osborne said, "If it has to go to a showdown for litigation, i don't care if it takes a hundred years, we'll tie it up."

There wasn't an answer and question period at Thursday's meeting. County officials say that comes later. But they don't expect a decision on the proposed project until sometime next summer.

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