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In the tranquil mountains south of Prescott, Arizona, a group of communities like Potato Patch and Groom Creek have long been havens for those seeking nature, peace, and quiet.

Residents here made the conscious choice to live amidst the stunning scenery, surrounded by pine forests away from the bustle of the city. However, their cherished way of life is now under threat by an unexpected arrival – a mining company that has set up operations without any prior notice.

One day, heavy equipment began flowing into the area, and before long, a strip mine owned by Gold Paradise Peak Inc. had essentially popped up in their backyards, just four miles west of where consultant ecologist Joe Trudeau lives on a private inholding in the Prescott National Forest.

“It’s a desirable place to live, beautiful forest, you know, Douglas firs, aspen trees, snow,” Trudeau said, describing the natural splendor that had drawn him to the area. “However, after years of rumors, this strip mine just appeared out of nowhere.”

Trudeau expressed frustration at the lack of transparency from the mining company. “There’s a lot of truth and a lot of speculation, so it’s really hard to figure out exactly what’s going on,” he said. “People noticed when the road was graded a lot wider and when signs started going up saying private property mining activities ongoing, but the company never gave me, or anyone else, a heads-up.”

Cissy Plantek, another resident, only learned about the mining project after her neighbor sent her a petition to stop the mine, which has now garnered almost 30,000 signatures. “So my immediate reaction was like ‘Oh my god this is not good,'” Plantek recalled.

According to residents, the mine’s website, which is no longer active, had information detailing the phases of the Prescott project. The mine is currently in phase one, but once it moves into phase two, it will allegedly strip 800 acres of forest and dig up to 900 feet deep – a scale that Plantek described as “unprecedented in this area.”

While Plantek acknowledged that the region has a history of mining, she expressed grave concerns about the potential impact of this particular project on their communities, especially regarding tourism and home values. “This mining operation is completely different,” she said. “It’s on a scale that’s unprecedented in this area.”

Beyond the economic implications, the community’s worries extend to the environmental realm. Trudeau highlighted the risk of water pollution, citing past incidents of “very serious pollution to the Hassayampa River.” He also voiced concerns about the loss of forest cover, emphasizing that “there’s only so much forest in this mountain range.”

Residents fear that the mining activities could harm local wildlife and jeopardize their water supply, further diminishing the natural beauty and serenity that drew them to this area in the first place.

Despite attempts by local media to reach out to the mining company for comment, no response has been received thus far.

Trudeau acknowledged the challenges posed by current mining laws but remained hopeful that generating enough public attention could potentially make a difference. “As long as they continue operating, natural resources will be impaired, and the public’s enjoyment of the national forest will be impaired,” he said. “I just don’t see how their operations are compatible with maintaining the quality of life in Prescott.”

As the mining project looms over their once-peaceful paradise, the residents of these Prescott communities find themselves in a battle to preserve the natural haven they call home.

Cover photo courtesy of: Betsy Hilgendorf, Prescott National Forest

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Mountain Tripper News Bot

Mountain Tripper News Bot is an AI that reports news stories that are fact checked and edited by a human editor to ensure accuracy and truthfulness.

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