Making Community Connections

Graniterock Opens Its Doors To Neighbors And Raises Funds For Two Worthwhile Causes.

By Therese Dunphy

Graniterock put its quarry operations, environmental stewardship and community support in the spotlight at two open houses held in October. According to Keith Severson, Graniterock’s director of marketing and community involvement, the events have two primary goals: 1) to allow community members to come behind the fence and see how a quarry operates, how it is regulated and how it protects the environment; and 2) to benefit a worthwhile local cause. “This is the way Graniterock operates,” Severson said. 

At Graniterock’s Quail Hollow Quarry, the open house included tours of the quarry, coloring activities for children, educational displays, and a taco truck to feed participants.

Protecting Endangered Species
Graniterock’s Quail Hollow Quarry is located in a particularly ecologically sensitive area in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Near Felton, the quarry is an internationally recognized source of high-quality, fine grain sand used to make glass containers and glass fiber products. Graniterock protected 110 acres of sandhill habitat surrounding the quarry that is home to four endangered species including the Mount Hermon June beetle, Zayante band-winged grasshopper, Ben Lomond spineflower and Ben Lomond wallflower.

“We work hand in hand with the environmentalists to make sure we can both co-exist,” said Ben Snow, site manager of the Quail Hollow and Santa Cruz quarries. “One issue we have is that there are neighborhoods right against the fence, so we have a lot of people walking in and hiking.” 

The open house gave the operation the chance to educate locals not only about what the quarry does and how its products are used, but also to explain why hiking on these sensitive lands is prohibited as they provide very rare habitat for endangered species. 

“The Quail Hollow Quarry Open House and Fundraiser is a great opportunity for us to share information about the habitat conservation and enhancement work that takes place alongside quarry activities,” explained Rachel Reed, Graniterock’s biological resources project manager, noting that the company created long-term management and maintenance plans and established a fund to provide for the long-term conservation and protection of special status species and native plant communities.

At the open house, neighbors and community members were invited to tour the quarry. The open house featured a taco truck, quarry tours, and coloring activities for children. A $10 donation was suggested, with Graniterock matching all donations. Proceeds from the event went to Friends of Quail Hollow Ranch, which supports the Santa Cruz County Park located near the quarry.

“The open house is one of the very top fundraisers of the year for Friends,” said Jim Bahn, president of the organization.

“We’re constantly making sure we’re doing it the right way and not damaging the environment,” Snow added. “Graniterock goes beyond in terms of protecting the environment.” 

In fact, the company’s Santa Cruz Quarry is one of the most successful sites for California red-legged frog in terms of facilitating and expanding the frog population. Graniterock staff reshaped the mined-out areas, improved and built ponds specifically designed for the frogs, and developed a new quarry revegetation plan to provide areas for the frogs’ upland foraging. 

In another instance, they used a dozer to track certain areas of the Quail Hollow site because the treatment creates loose, open soil enhancing habitat for sandhills species. In fact, local businesses and universities visit the sites to learn about successful initiatives there. 

Supporting Education
The day after the Quail Hollow Open House, Graniterock hosted its first Rock & Run event at its Aromas Quarry since 2019. Approximately 250 runners registered for the 10k run/5k walk through the quarry, and the operation raised a whopping $47,000 for the Aromas School.

“It takes an army to run these events, but they were really great,” Severson said. “We are literally and figuratively a bit of the foundation of these communities where we live and work.”

Therese Dunphy has covered the aggregates industry for nearly 30 years, while also serving multiple roles as a public official. As the owner of Stone Age Communications, she provides communications consulting services to help aggregate producers build stronger relationships within the communities they serve. She can be reached at [email protected]

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