Information on Painted Rock Mine

Painted Rock Mine FAQ's

The county has received comments from concerned residents about the Painted Rock Mine. Below are a few frequently asked questions and answers to help.

Knox Agreement Approved by BOCC on September 17, 2020. 
Letter sent from County to BIA  

What is the Painted Rock Mine?
The painted Rock Mine is a proposed commercial gravel pit operation located on federal land east of the Johnson Lane community. It is approximately 1.1 to 1.6 miles from the nearest residence on Johnson Lane.

Who has the authority to approve the Painted Rock Mine?
The Painted Rock Mine is under the authority of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The location is Trust Land. Trust Land is land held in trust by the United States for tribes or individual Indians and managed by the BIA for their benefit.

The BIA has sole authority to approve the Painted Rock Mine project.

This land and this project are not under the jurisdiction and control of the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners and the County has no authority to approve or condition this project in any way.

What is the approval process?
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) as part of their approval process. An EA is part of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and is a requirement for approval of many types of development projects on federal land. The EA includes consultation with other federal and state land management agencies. The process also includes a period of time for the public to review and comment on the draft EA.

Where is the Painted Rock Mine in the process?
The draft Environmental Assessment (EA) was completed and released for a 30 day public comment period in late August 2020. The comment period closed in late September 2020.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) now must consider the final EA and any public comments and issue their findings. If they find the project has no significant environmental impact, they will issues a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). At that point, they will issue a permit for the project. If they determine that environmental impacts from the project would be significant, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared. If so, a permit would not be issued until the EIS was complete and any issues addresses as part of the permit.

What role does Douglas County play in this process?
Douglas County was not consulted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as part of their Environmental Assessment (EA) process. County staff learned about the project from the project operator, Knox Excavating in July 2020. 

Douglas County has no authority to authorize or condition this project located on Indian Trust Land.

Douglas County worked with Knox Excavating and the family who owns the project site on a voluntary agreement to mitigate the impacts of this project to our residents. There was no requirement for them to do so, and the county is thankful for their willingness to work with us.

The Board of County Commissioners reviewed this topic in two meetings in September 2020. The purpose was to raise awareness and encourage the public to make comments to the BIA during the open comment period for the draft EA. The Board also reviewed and approved a proposed agreement between the county and Knox Excavating. 

What can the county do now to fight this project? Can trucks from the project be banned from Johnson Lane or other roads? Can a gate be put up at the end of Johnson Lane?
Johnson Lane is a major connector road designed for truck traffic. Historically, Johnson Lane, as it is adjacent to industrial areas along most of it's length, already sees routine truck traffic in numbers significantly higher than those proposed by this project.

Any action taken by the county to prevent this project from operating on public roads would be challenged by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). There is not legally defensible case to single out this one operation and ban or limit their use of Johnson Lane. 

Gating or otherwise blocking the east end of Johnson Lane would not be lawful as the BLM roads leading to the project site are historical, public roads. This would not be permitted by the federal government and would restrict the public's access to public land. 

To submit comments or find more information about the Painted Rock Mine Draft Environment Assessment visit