THE FIGHT BEGINS!


STOP THE PIT!
Last week, Peak Materials, subsidiary of Kilgore Companies based in Denver and operator of the Maryland Creek gravel mine north of Silverthorne, announced intentions to begin the permitting process for a new gravel mine 11 miles north of Silverthorne on the former Hillyard ranch next to our beloved Blue River. Here is an excerpt from their announcement:

"…. Peak Materials is seeking permits to extract aggregates and then reclaim the property to include a 26-acre lake surrounded by rangeland vegetation. This project is known as the Peak Ranch Resource Project. The life of the project is anticipated to be approximately 10-15 years from mining through reclamation.  Material mined from Peak Ranch Resource will be trucked to our existing Maryland Creek Ranch site, north of Silverthorne, for processing. We want to keep you informed about our proposed project.  We have set up a project website that we will use to post project status updates. Our website can be found HERE [LBRU recommends that you visit the site and sign up for email updates] Through our website, we will provide you with direct access to documents we submit to the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) or Summit County, as we move through the required permitting processes.  On the website, we have a page for you to ask questions and share comments about our proposed project and interested parties can sign up to receive email notifications when we post updates about the project or the permitting process. We plan to host a public meeting to discuss our proposed project and help answer questions.  Due to the COVID-19 situation and in respect of state and local requirements related to maintaining social distance, this meeting will likely be virtual.  Updates related to our meeting will be provided through our website.”

THE BASICS
The two primary permits required to operate a mine are issued by the state of Colorado and Summit County. If either of these is denied, the mine will not happen. Peak can apply for these permits in either order. Permits may also be required from other agencies such as the Colorado Water Quality Control Division, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for wetland mitigation, and the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The State mining permit will narrowly focus on impacts to water resources and wildlife, and will require the operator to develop a reclamation plan for the mining site. The State permit does not deal with the broader, overriding land use issues which are reserved for the County and the Lower Blue River Planning Commission.  As we have mentioned before, a mining project in the Lower Blue is completely contrary to the County’s land use plan which we will challenge vigorously when the matter comes before the County.

LBRU BATTLE PLAN
We have yet to receive Peak’s application and mining plan. Once it is filed, we will evaluate it in its entirety with our experts, focusing carefully on water, wildlife, reclamation, and other issues. The DRMS’s staff reviews the application and will make a preliminary decision of approval or disapproval, which then will likely be appealed to the Mined Land Reclamation Board. That Board will then schedule a hearing.  All of this must take place within 120 days of the filing of the application.

LBRU intends to file for party status, on behalf of itself and its expert witnesses, to participate at the state hearings (which hopefully will be held in Summit County rather than virtually), and we will keep you advised as to all of the proceedings. It may also be possible for individual citizens to speak to the Mined Land Reclamation Board at the public hearing.

LBRU is discussing with the venerable Friends of the Lower Blue FOLBR how the two organizations will work in concert to maximize the impact of our campaign to stop the pit!

MOVING FORWARD
While we will focus our initial energy on the state permits, we will also be gearing up for fighting the project at the County level.  Our best opportunity to stop the pit still lies with Summit County’s permitting process. If the state says no to the mining application, it’s moot. If the state says yes, then we begin the process of working to convince our county decision-makers to deny a permit. A hearing is first conducted by the Lower Blue Planning Commission. If they deny, Peak can appeal to the County Commission.

The November 3 Summit County ballot will include choices for new commissioners in all three districts. SEE. It is important that we elect individuals who understand how inappropriate gravel mining would be in the Lower Blue Valley. LBRU and FOLBR will work the balance of this year to educate candidates and voters about the issue.

We will be in touch soon with specific actions you can take to STOP THE PIT! In the meantime, learn more about this outrageous plan to destroy our valley HERE.

John Fielder
Executive Director
 
Harris Sherman
Strategy Consultant

 
I made this photograph last week above the valley from the Slate Creek Ranch...John Fielder
This is what we must protect!
...and this!
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