San Gabriel Valley Digest

Azusa : Quarry Coalition Breaks Up

April 01, 1993

Local residents have broken with environmental activists they enlisted in their fight to close a rock quarry that is carving into two mountains at the edge of Angeles National Forest.

Anti-quarry activist Jim McJunkin said local residents opposed to the Azusa Rock quarry are fed up with what he described as the confrontational style of the environmentalists.

"We are pulling away from them and emphasizing a local focus," he said this week. "We want to . . . act in the best interest of the city."

Last December, McJunkin enlisted the help of Rainforest Action Network in Santa Monica and the San Gabriel Valley group Friends of the Foothills, forming a coalition called Save the Foothills that appealed to the City Council to close Azusa Rock's quarry.

After three City Council meetings on the issue, no decision has been made. At the last meeting, council members voted to seek outside legal counsel on whether they could close the quarry.

McJunkin said local residents decided to cut ties with the environmentalists when some of them accused him and another Azusa resident of being spies for Azusa Rock Co.

Atossa Soltani, spokeswoman for the Rainforest Action Network, said McJunkin might have misinterpreted a casual comment by a coalition member.

"Someone may have said, 'Whose side are you on, Jim?' " because McJunkin had met with quarry officials without informing the coalition, Soltani said.

McJunkin and Van Kuilenberg are too concerned with maintaining a good relationship with the city, she said.

Soltani said they need the support of groups such as hers to canvass residents and build grass-roots support. "Without us, they would have no way to reach the mass public," she said.

She said her group will continue to fight for the closure of the quarry.

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