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“INDUSTRIAL” DEVELOPMENT ABOVE GIANT SPRINGS!

Please read this and try to make it to the meeting. If you can’t make it shoot an e-mail to them!

As much as one might wish, “development” is going to happen. However, there are always opportunities to influence just how it will take place and maybe even where it will take place. As stewards of our land, wildlife and water I feel we all have a responsibility to remind others in a rush to “develop” that everything they do has consequences and there are ways to mitigate those consequences. Many times it can be done very simply. We just have to be aware of what is going happening in our communities. One such case is Agri-Tech Industrial Park which is looking at property in Cascade County. Agri-Tech is proposed to be heavy industrial, with rail service to all lots. One possible site is in the farm fields above Giant Springs State Park, near the scenic overlooks and River’s Edge Trail Any construction in that area needs to be done with care as there is the potential for significant run-off and the erosion that accompanies it (does Whitemore Ravine sound familiar?) Giant Springs is visually pleasing with the surrounding fields and open space, the river, (OK, there are transmission lines, but some of those are being re-located), industrial park construction could easily degrade the visual appeal of the area. Construction will need lighting, if done properly there will be limited light “pollution” to distract the thousands of migrant birds that use the river as a flyway. With proper planning run-off can be captured, slowed or re-routed to prevent damage. Buildings can be constructed to blend in with the landscape both in height and color. Hedges and plantings (preferably of native plants) can be placed to hide buildings and activities which would also provide habitat for birds and small animals and “dark sky” lighting can be used. Although Agri-Tech may not choose to use the site, there will be others and we should pay attention – we may be able to position ourselves to positively influence development.

If you would like to learn more about this proposed industrial park, please come to Conservation Roundtable on December 15th at Rikki’s Restaurant, 1220 9th St So, noon to 1PM. The City and Great Falls Development Authority will be making presentations on the project. You can also send an email with your hopes for sensible development to Planning Director Mike Haynes at mhaynes@greatfallsmt.net. Or call him at 454-3181.

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