Limestone Mine’s damage in Parley’s Canyon would be irreversible

The Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial board weighed in on the new mine proposal in Parley’s Canyon this week. As soon as we heard about it, UPHE immediately jumped into the battle to stop a proposed huge, limestone mine on the south side of Parley’s Canyon. Our board sent a letter of protest to state, county and city officials. Now we need the public to also weigh in. We highlighted the dust and diesel pollution, truck traffic, likely contamination of Parley’s Creek, Mill Creek, and groundwater, and loss of the natural beauty of Parley’s Canyon, Mt. Aire and Grandeur Peak, areas enjoyed by tens of thousands of people. 

The mine’s damage would be irreversible and “reclamation” would be a joke. The small mine on the north side of Parley’s has been there for 100 years and not a single acre has been reclaimed. The whole purpose of government is to serve and protect the public interest. Frankly, if this proposal isn’t stopped dead in its tracks then every layer of government will have utterly failed its most important responsibility. The public needs to get involved to help stop this atrocity. 

Please send your comments ASAP to Mayor Wilson’s office:

Send them to the state agency, Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (DOGM):

Contact Gov. Cox and call his office:


Sign the petition and get your friends and family to do the same.

Read the full editorial here.

Our Letter:

Dear DOGM staff, Salt Lake County officials, and Gov. Cox:

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) have been besieged by Salt Lake County residents who oppose the proposed “Tree Farm Silver Mine,” and they are alarmed at even a small possibility this mine could happen in Parley’s Canyon. A brief investigation of the applicant shows he has no mining experience or track record, and the proposed start date for operation is Dec. 20, 2021. The property owner only purchased the land a few years ago (obviously for the sole purpose of exploiting it as a mine), whereas the nearby home owners in Mt. Aire, whose quality of life will be severely impacted have been there for over 50 years.

A petition of opposition has already gathered over 5,600 signatures in just a few days,  and many more are being added every hour based merely on last week’s SL Tribune story. After examining the documents filed with your agency, we are also firmly opposed to this proposal.

In a valley with unhealthy, chronic air pollution from multiple sources, water resources steadily diminishing, and with those trends destined to continue and likely accelerate, it is alarming indeed that projects like this are still being proposed. More specifically, the additional dust and diesel pollution generated by the mine will only add to the health and quality of life consequences from existing sources of environmental degradation in the valley. Mt. Aire residents would be particularly exposed to chronic, persistent pollution. And it seems nearly certain that water quantity and quality in the area  (Parley’s creek, Millcreek, and groundwater) will be diminished and degraded.  It is notable also that the application includes not just limestone mining, but also heavy metals.

From an aesthetic perspective, allowing an enormous, new scar on Parley’s Canyon mountainous landscape within a few miles of the eastern gateway to Salt Lake City is reason enough to have this proposal quickly dismissed, especially given that the mine that has been on the north side of Parley’s for 100 years has not seen a single acre reclaimed.  The area is popular for hiking and the mine would utterly destroy the natural area. 

Furthermore, what appears to be simultaneous applications from Tree Farm for a small mine (20 acres) and a large mine (634 acres) is unusual, if not inexplicable and suspicious as a means of getting eventual approval for the large mine via a “foot in the door” with approval for the small mine first. 

Were it not for the investigation of a Salt Lake Tribune reporter, the public would likely not have been aware of this proposal in the eastern “backyard” of Salt Lake Valley residents. Certainly as citizens they deserve to be informed of this proposal and their voices and concerns about it heard and considered. State and local government should reflect the will of the people. It is clear this proposed mine would be contrary to the will of the overwhelming majority of the people affected. Beyond registering our firm opposition to this proposal, given that Utah code does not require a public hearing for DOGM to approve a “small mine,” can you tell us what is the process and timeline by which this proposal will be evaluated, and about the public’s opportunity to become engaged in that process?

Dr. Brian Moench, UPHE President
Dr. Kirtly Jones, UPHE Vice President
Dr. John Macfarlane, UPHE board
Dr. Richard Kanner, UPHE board
Dr. E. Tom Nelson, UPHE board
Dr. Courtney Henley, UPHE board
Janice Evans, UPHE board
Scott Pynes, UPHE board
Jonny Vasic, UPHE Executive Director