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Libby strives for livable balance of livelihood, environment

| January 30, 2007 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

In an attempt to give others space in this column, I've remained silent over the last month or so, even at the expense of my ignoring a topic or two that I thought deserved my attention.

However, after reading Lon LaBelle's letter on Jan. 26 entitled "Any direction would be better than another mine in Libby," I feel I must break my silence.

To begin with Lon, yes we do respect and enjoy all the wonderful things that surround our community. We also know to take bounty that the Lord has bestowed upon us, and with it, prejudice.

Yes, indeed, the negative impact of the W.R. Grace Zonolite mine in Libby was devastating. Be that as it may sir, you might, but don't lay down and quit.

With an attitude like that, aviation would have been curtailed in the early 1900s and the shuttle program would have shut down following the Challenger disaster.

Fact is Lon, we're not a nation of quitters. We're a nation of doers. We research, develop and implement, new, more productive and safer ways to get the job done.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here, Mr. LaBelle, and guess that you live in a home with electricity and plumbing. You probably have a toilet and a bathtub, TV, radio, computer, telephone, stereo, furnace, refrigerator and maybe even air conditioning.

I'm gonna bet that you even drive an automobile. Well Lon, without mining, you would have none of those things as well as countless others.

The long and the short of it is, sir, if you can't grow it, you have to mine it.

The notion that our country has a surplus of copper is, at least, absurd. Have you checked the market prices lately? All metal prices are up. The reason? Supply and demand, and recycling is at an all-time high.

It's obvious that your knowledge of today's shaft mining procedures is limited. Today it is done with the highest production and the lowest negative environmental impact in history.

And when it's all said and done, Mr. LaBelle, and the reclamation process is complete, I'll bet neither you nor any other tourist, or even the grizzly bears will know it was even there.

So please, Lon, let's compare apples to apples here. In your letter, you refer to a mine born over half a century ago that was certainly less than kind to its valley and people.

How about let's not condemn ourselves for mistakes made in the past, but instead learn from them, go forth, and prosper.

As far as your rambling about us offering our "qualities" to bigger cities, we do that every day. In the form of timber products, agriculture, mining and recreation.

You see, Lon, we strive for a livable balance between our livelihood and our pristine environment.

But we don't believe in completely strangling one to totally preserve the other. But instead, subscribe to the somewhat recently conceived program known as multiple-use.

In summary, Lon, please leave it to us to decide what's best for us, our valley and our economic base. In turn, we will do our best to keep everyone happy including us, you, the tourists and even the bears.

Bob Creighton