FPA Blog

Interview with Canyon Rock on Proposed Asphalt Plant in Forestville

by Vikki Miller

Vikki is our newest board member. She will be writing a series of articles. This article is Part 1 of 3.  (To read more about Vikki, go to: Board of Directors.)

Forestville’s two rock quarries were established generations ago where a Blue Rock vein runs through Pocket Canyon in Forestville.

Canyon Rock
The Trappe family came to Sonoma County in the late 1800s and moved to West County in the 1940s. Canyon Rock is now in the third generation of Trappe stewardship for this land and business with hopes to soon have its fourth generation learning the business. Jonathan Trappe, who I interviewed with his father Wendel runs the local rock quarry in Forestville l, grandson of Adolf Trappe, son of Wendel and Gwen Trappe, and married to Claire Wood, all have multi-generational ties to Forestville.

Canyon Rock quarry, located at 7525 Hwy 116 on the north side of the road west of downtown Forestville, has been in operation and supplying aggregate since the 1940s. The Trappe family, originally from Freestone, CA owned a dairy ranch and would purchase materials from Canyon Rock for their roads. In 1972, when Canyon Rock was for sale, Adolph Trappe and family bought Canyon Rock quarry. Adolph’s son Wendel then moved to Forestville on land adjacent to the quarry in order to operate the family business. Canyon Rock, in Forestville, currently operates on approximately 100 acres and continues as a family-owned and operated business with Gwen and Wendel’s two sons running the day-to-day operations in Forestville and Cazadero. Jonathan Trappe, grandson of Adolf Trappe, son of Wendel and Gwen Trappe and married to Claire Wood, all have multi-generational ties to Forestville.

Concrete products and aggregate are the preferred material for building structures in the wildland-urban interface. Aggregate is a vital part of structures that support everyday life, including all roads, so it is important to have local resources. “Canyon Rock’s goal is to produce aggregate and concrete products in the most efficient, sustainable way possible for the next generation while adapting to a changing climate and evolving demand, all while making the best use of people and technology to make products in which we and our community are all proud.” https://www.canyonrockinc.com/about/

When Sonoma County ended aggregate mining from the Russian River, land-based quarries increased production to keep up with road and construction needs. Most quarries serve an area within 20 miles of the rock source, but in the case of aggregate used for asphalt, the rock has to be transported to existing asphalt plants. In Sonoma County those are currently: BoDean Company Asphalt Mixing Plant in Santa Rosa, and Syar Industries, owned by Vulcan Materials Company from Birmingham Alabama, in Healdsburg and Santa Rosa. The Dutra Asphalt Plant proposed for Petaluma is still on hold.

With road paving maintenance and construction a high priority in West County (of the 1,383 miles of roads in Sonoma County, 580 miles of roads are in the 5th District) Canyon Rock sent a proposal to Permit Sonoma to build an asphalt mixing plant at the site of their quarry in Forestville. They intend to decrease transporting aggregate to the other asphalt plants while making it easier to keep this hot product warm when trucking it to West County road and construction projects.

The proposal is currently in the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) research phase which Permit Sonoma predicts will be completed by the end of 2024. When the Draft EIR is released, the public will have time to review and comment before the report goes back to Permit Sonoma to address all concerns. The final EIR, open for public comment, will likely be published in late 2024 or early 2025. After all concerns have been addressed, the proposal will go before the Planning Commission, and if approved, before the Board of Supervisors for final approval or rejection.

Because the proposed asphalt plant will be located at the Canyon Rock Quarry site, some Forestville residents have voiced concerns. In an effort to shed light on this proposal while we wait for the Draft EIR, I sat down with Wendel and Jonathan Trappe to discuss the proposed asphalt plant.

The proposed plant will primarily serve West County (west of Fulton Road). Jonathon Trappe explains, “The plan for the proposed plant is to produce the majority of the asphalt required in West County but will vary depending on West County work. There is no way to say the percentage compared to the rest of the county because construction varies, but due to our location, we would handle most of West County.”

Everyone I met at Canyon Rock was gracious, transparent, and willing to answer all questions. The purpose of this interview is to address community concerns and to provide information in addition to the proposal while we wait for the Draft EIR to be completed.

Often controversial, asphalt plants in California are subject to regulations aimed at controlling emissions and ensuring compliance with state environmental standards including Environmental Impact Reports (EIR). The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and its various agencies, such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the local air quality management districts (AQMDs), oversee regulations related to air quality and emissions from industrial sources, including asphalt plants. (see below for definitions and links to these agencies)

These regulations typically include requirements for permits, emission controls, and ongoing monitoring, and reporting. Permitting processes involve environmental assessments to evaluate potential impacts on air quality, water quality, and noise as they impact nearby communities. Additionally, there are federal regulations, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Clean Air Act, that impose emissions standards on industrial facilities including asphalt plants.

California, known for its stringent environmental regulations, has taken measures to address air quality concerns associated with industrial activities. My research uncovered the effectiveness of regulation enforcement and the adequacy of regulations vary. There are ongoing debates about the sufficiency of regulations in addressing the environmental and health impacts of asphalt plants, particularly close to residential communities.

Community activism, environmental advocacy groups, and ongoing research also play significant roles in raising awareness about potential environmental and health concerns associated with asphalt plants and advocating for stricter regulations or improved enforcement of existing ones. The Trappe family has a reputation for being committed to working with our community, are environmentally conscious, and investing in state-of-the-art technology to meet the highest standards. I’m grateful they gave me so much of their time during the following interview.

Interview with Wendel and Jonathan Trappe

Q: Please tell me a little bit about your connection to Sonoma County and Forestville:

A: The Trappe family has been serving our community for many decades through volunteering and contributing both time and money to the Forestville Youth Park, our schools, and many other community projects. We currently help erect and decorate the annual Holiday Tree downtown, maintain the parking lot that supports Forestville’s Downtown Oaks Park, and fund $16,000 annually to support the Forestville Planning Association (FPA) Community Fund. We also donate to multiple organizations including Forestville Youth Park, Forestville Little League, 4-H-FFA and multiple schools across the county. Many of these donations are yearly. Canyon Rock has also helped the State of California during the fire sieges of 2020 and 2021 by donating equipment and fire-trained operators to combat fires.

Q: Are you familiar with and committed to complying with all local, state, and federal regulations related to asphalt plant operations?

A: Yes. Our family are the closest neighbor to the proposed plant, and we have every incentive, including an auto-immune compromised member of our family, to ensure the plant is as safe as possible. To be leaders in this industry, and most importantly in our community, we must lead by example. We will meet or exceed all local, state, and federal regulations.

For example: the family has always been stewards of Green Valley Creek which flows into the Russian River. One-quarter mile of the creek runs through Canyon Rock Quarry property, so we built a berm to protect the creek from the impacts of our quarry operation, planted redwood trees to shade the creek and filter air and dust from entering the creek, established holding ponds to keep runoff from entering the creek, and moved quarry operations more than a quarter mile from Green Valley Creek to the the far west corner of the current quarry blueprint. The proposed asphalt plant will have no operations near the creek.

Canyon Rock is in a mineral resource area. The proposed asphalt plant will have its own covered entrance and exit and will not be visible from Highway 116. The quarry contains four large ponds that capture all of the runoff, and if the asphalt plant is approved, the holding pond areas will increase. All of the trees have remained on the property and the recycled water system has mitigated the need for multiple wells.

Q: What measures will be in place to control emissions from the asphalt plant? And will there be something in place for the public to access to see, in real-time, the emissions/air quality?

A: We are committed to using industry Best Management Practices (BMPs). A “baghouse”, also known as a baghouse filter, bag filter, or fabric filter will be used. It is an air pollution control device and dust collector that removes particulates and gas released from commercial processes out of the air. There will also be a separate fiber bed filter system that captures all of the vapors/blue smoke, and the system will be cleaned regularly. We plan to use liquified natural gas to dry the aggregate for asphalt production. Building the asphalt plant at the furthest west corner of the property will also minimize our impact on neighbors. We do not know a mechanism for real-time viewing of emissions.

Canyon Rock is currently supplying aggregate to other asphalt plants in the area. All of this material is loaded with a loader into trucks that haul it out of the area to make asphalt. If asphalt is needed in West County, more truck trips are necessary to haul the asphalt back to West County for use. Our proposed plan will reduce truck trips which also reduces emissions from hauling trucks as well as wear on local roads.

Using electric conveyors to move material will reduce fossil fuel emissions. Canyon Rock has made investments into Green Energy to supply the power needs of the quarry, recently installing Tesla batteries and a solar array accounting for 20% of its energy use. We also buy Sonoma Clean Power electricity which is mostly sourced from renewable resources in order to support green energy technology.

Canyon Rock also can produce Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA) which will further lower the emissions in production while using recycled asphalt back into the mix. The system has its own drum quality and uses the best available technology,

Q: How do you plan to engage with the local community regarding the asphalt plant’s establishment and ongoing operations?

A: We are in the early stages of the process but always want to keep the community informed. We started our proposal by hosting public information events to invite locals to see what we are proposing and to ask us questions. We have our full proposal posted on our website at https://www.canyonrockinc.com/asphalt-facility/.

We participated in a Permit Sonoma presentation at a Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Council monthly meeting and attended a Forestville Town Hall. With the Draft Environmental Impact Report still in process, Canyon Rock is committed to keeping the community engaged and informed of any developments. Community access and transparency are essential, so when the studies become available for public comment, we will participate in another Forestville Town Hall. Our goal is to serve West County.

We encourage people to visit our website and the Permit Sonoma webpage which includes documents about our proposal (Canyon Rock Asphalt Facility – Project File Number PLP22-0027), and to sign up for updates: https://permitsonoma.org/divisions/planning/projectreview/canyonrockasphaltfacility

Q: What safety protocols and measures will be implemented at the plant to ensure the well-being of workers and the community?

A: The proposed plant will be built using the most modern technology available. Because this will be the newest asphalt plant in Sonoma County, and because we are committed to the future of our family and community, we will adhere to all environmental practices now and into the future.

Q: How will potential health risks such as dust and emissions be mitigated?

A: In addition to the measures defined above, reducing truck trips will make a big difference by reducing emissions as well as road dust. Our community will see the benefits of having the plant localized as it will significantly reduce truck trips through town. Also having 540 miles of roads in District 5 underscores the efficiency of the plant being located at the quarry to minimize truck trips. District 5 also has a tremendous need for road repair. The EIR will recommend mitigation measures and all be implemented. Canyon Rock has a proven record on safety and environmental stewardship that will not waver into the future.

Q: What are the proposed operating hours for the asphalt plant?

A: Asphalt plant hours will remain the regular operating hours of the quarry: Monday – Friday, 7 am to 5 pm, and Saturday 7 am to noon. Production will occur primarily during the day. The asphalt sits in silos and can remain in the silos for up to 2 days.

Q: How do you plan to address potential noise concerns?

A: I can only speak about Canyon Rock and not other businesses as we have gotten noise complaints that originated from nearby businesses. Because it is all contained, there will be no banging and no loader. As soon as the asphalt gets cold, it solidifies. Additionally, we have heavily invested in our aggregate-producing plants utilizing special rubber mats and screens which significantly reduce noise from Canyon Rock.

There will be rubber line conveyor belts that make the entire process very quiet. When the product drops into piles, there is virtually no noise.

Q: Where do you plan to source your raw materials and how will you ensure they meet quality standards?

A: Ninety-five percent of materials will be sourced on-site from our quarry. The remaining 5% is oil that will be imported from the Bay area. The materials used will meet Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements.

Q: How do you plan to manage water usage and runoff from the plant?

A: The plant is largely self-contained and there will be little water use in the process. All transfer points will have control measures in place.

Q: What measures will be in place to prevent water pollution?

A: Because the plant is self-contained it will be a non-issue. Our large multiple ponds allow us to capture stormwater, even during extreme weather events like we are experiencing from Climate Change. Our entire property drains into these ponds, where dust and silt settle before it can exit the site. Below is a photo of the Canyon Rock property including the ponds so you can see how our holding ponds are isolated to protect Green Valley Creek and contain run-off.

Canyon Rock Quarry, Forestville, CA

Seen from above, Highway 116/Pocket Canyon is on the far right of this photo to the right of the solar panels.

Q: What steps will be taken to control and minimize any odors associated with asphalt production?

A: Blue smoke is the result of asphalt fumes condensing upon contact with cool ambient air. To minimize emissions, there is also a Blue Smoke Emission Control System which is necessary to control the condensation of the asphalt fumes and includes a network of scavenge ductwork and collection points designed to control emission opacity by limiting the escape of vaporized asphalt fumes into the atmosphere. The plant has a fiber system that is designed to control emissions opacity by removing hydrocarbons from the incoming gas stream.

Gases enter a pre-filtration area at the inlet on the fiber bed. Here the gas stream rapidly decreases in velocity and solid particulate matter settles out of the airflow. The gas stream then makes a 90-degree turn into a bank of prefilters for further collection of particulate matter and large liquid particles. After the pre-filtration compartment, the gas stream is directed downward through the opening in the tubesheet into the collection chamber Next, the gas stream is pulled upward through the main coalescing filters where the liquid droplets collect on the inner media surface. Gravity pulls accumulated droplets through the coalescing candle filter into the collection chamber. Clear air exits the fiber bed and is exhausted through a stack atop the system’s fan.

As the gas stream flows through the coalescing candle filters, air molecules flow around obstacles – the individual media fibers in their paths. However, hydrocarbon particles in the 5-micron range and larger, will not. Inertia forces these large particles to continue their original path until colliding with a fiber, which removes them from the gas stream. This is referred to as impaction.

Hydrocarbon particles in the 1-to 3-micron range are collected via interception when they graze against the media fibers. Particles below 1 micron in diameter follow the streamlines as it flow between the micro-glass fibers. They exhibit random motion, which is known as Brownian diffusion. This phenomenon is due to collisions with air molecules within the gas stream. The random movements allow particles to move independently of the streamline itself. Particles tend to migrate from areas of high concentration to areas of lower concentration. Those particles that contact the media fibers are removed from the gas stream. Particle concentration near the fiber surface will go to zero thus continuing to drive the diffusion/collection process.

Captured particles coalesce into droplets, which pull through the filter to accumulate in a collection chamber located beneath the tube sheet. The bottom of the chamber slopes toward the inlet of the unit to facilitate the removal of the collected hydrocarbons through a valve. The collected compounds may be recycled or combusted, as required by local regs and permit processes.

Other technologies and practices planned for odor reduction include: the trucks will all be tarped closed and kept at a temperature that is conducive to the asphalt crusting over. All temps are checked when they reach the job sites.

Q: What emergency response plans will be in place for potential incidents at the asphalt plant?

A: We will work closely with our local fire service who have its own Emergency Preparedness Plan. Canyon Rock has an Emergency Response Plan (EPP) that has been in place for several years. In addition to that, we will work closely with emergency responders and have an EPP specifically for the asphalt plant. Canyon Rock has cameras placed in strategic locations that can be utilized after hours for early detection of emergencies.

Wendel Trappe served on the Forestville Fire Department’s Board of Directors until the fire department consolidated with Sonoma County Fire District. He has an established record of collaborating with local fire departments and is also an immediate neighbor of the quarry site as well as mindful and proactive when it comes to fire prevention and preparedness. Canyon Rock has several water trucks and dozers and heavy equipment that can be utilized when needed.

The asphalt plant is not a fire threat. The plant will exceed the required defensible spacing requirements and is located near water sources and rock and fire suppression equipment.

Q: What will you do to address a Community Feedback Mechanism? Will there be a system in place to provide feedback or raise concerns about the asphalt plant if the plant is approved?

A: Once the DEIR is published, there will be a Town Hall meeting to keep the community informed with a question and answer period. Any questions or concerns before that time can be addressed by phone call (707) 887-2207, email at jwtrappe@canyonrockinc.com, or in person at 7525 Hwy 116, Forestville. Please visit our CONTACT page: https://www.canyonrockinc.com/contact/

The Trappe family has been committed to problem-solving during their decades-long ownership of the Canyon Rock Quarry. For example, if drivers are reported for speeding, the first time they get a warning, and the second time they are terminated “no matter who they are”. We will not tolerate bad behavior and unsafe practices.

Regarding community feedback, issues will always be addressed as they arise. If an email or phone call isn’t sufficient, the Trappe family will be glad to meet face-to-face. That is how we have always operated over the decades, and always will.

Links for Additional Information

Environmental Impact Report (EIR): An EIR contains an overview of the project, in-depth studies of potential impacts, measures to reduce or avoid those impacts, maps and technical details of the project area, and an analysis of alternatives to the project.

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Act: the comprehensive federal law that regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources. Among other things, this law authorizes EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and public welfare and to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants. https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-clean-air-act

California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) is a state cabinet-level agency within the government of California. The mission of CalEPA is to restore, protect and enhance the environment, to ensure public health, environmental quality, and economic vitality. https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/

California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through the effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering its effects on the economy. CARB is the lead agency for climate change programs and oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health-based air quality standards. https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/

Air Quality Management Districts (AQMDs): 35 local regulatory agencies in California are responsible for ambient (outdoor) air quality in each geographic region. It’s our duty to ensure the fair and consistent implementation of local, state, and federal air quality regulations. Sonoma County has 2 districts of which the Northern Sonoma County Air Quality Management District is responsible for regulating the air quality in our local region. https://nosocoair.org/

Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA) is the generic term for a variety of technologies that allow producers of Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) pavement material to lower temperatures at which the material is mixed and placed on the road. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc-1/wma.cfm#

Forestville Planning Association Community Fund: Established in 2007 by the Forestville Planning Association, is funded primarily by annual contributions from the Bodean Company and Canyon Rock Quarry. In 2023, these funds were used for: Forestville’s Holiday Tree lighting; the mural on BREW Coffee Bar & Taproom; an ice machine for Forestville Chamber of Commerce events; tree trimming at Food for Thought food bank; grant funds for Forestville School, Skatespot and Forestville’s Food Closet for hungry families; a tankless hot water heater for Hollydale Community Club; and a water heater upgrade for Forestville Youth Park. https://forestvillefpa.org/community-fund/

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