Vulcan quarry transforms to natural environment

By |  September 28, 2015
Vulcan Material's Azusa Rock Quarry in California in 2013 prior to reclamation

Azusa Rock Quarry in 2013. Photo courtesy of Vulcan Materials.

Few hiking trails pass through active quarry sites. Yet, a hiking trail that stretches about half a mile is available for visitors in the middle of Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry in Azusa, Calif.

According to Vulcan, the trail acts as the divide between the east and west sides of the quarry’s operations. The east side of the quarry is currently being reclaimed while the west side remains active.

Jeff Cameron, Vulcan’s special projects manager for Southern California, says dozens of hikers visit the trail each day since it opened to the public in June 2014.

“You won’t find many quarries with a hiking trail in the middle of active operations and reclamation projects,” Cameron says. “We find it’s a good way to interact with people in the community.”

Hikers have lauded Vulcan for reopening the trail, known as the Fish Canyon Falls Trail, between the two sides of the quarry’s operations last year. In addition, people in the Azusa community have noticed the aesthetic changes Vulcan has made through reclamation projects at the quarry.

Vulcan Material's Azusa Rock Quarry  after reclamation in 2015

Azusa Rock Quarry in 2015. Photo courtesy of Vulcan Materials.

Vulcan recently achieved a milestone, wrapping up the first phase of a two-phase reclamation of the east side of the quarry on Aug. 19. Vulcan removed large conventional benches on the east side of the quarry. Locals referred to these benches as “the Mayan Steps.” Vulcan smoothed out the steps to make them look more like the natural surrounding area.

“We created natural-looking slopes with vegetation that’s native to the area,” Cameron says.

Overburden from the reclamation project is conveyed to the Reliance II Landfill, a Vulcan-owned pit that’s two miles down the road. Quarry operations at the Reliance II Landfill site ceased in the 1990s.

“We try to maximize the amount of overburden we move every day from the reclamation of the east side of the Azusa Rock Quarry to the Reliance II Landfill,” Cameron says. “We’ve also started moving overburden from the active west side of the quarry to the Reliance II Landfill, as well.”

Cameron estimates the Reliance II Landfill is almost halfway filled. Once the Reliance II Landfill is totally filled with overburden material, he says the site will be used to house commercial and retail development.

The Azusa Rock Quarry’s west side is still active, but Cameron says similar projects will take place on that side once it’s mined out. He says Vulcan has a permit that allows it to mine the west side of the Azusa Rock Quarry through 2038.

“As time goes on, we hope the whole quarry will look more like the natural environment,” Cameron says. “We hope to ‘disappear’ as time goes on.”

About the Author:

Megan Smalley is the associate editor of Pit & Quarry. Contact her at msmalley@northcoastmedia.net or 216-363-7930.

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