By: Evan Stafford
A new proposal to allow the development of a 90- acre open pit mine in Eagle County at the gateway to the Colorado River has local river users asking questions. We encourage everyone to attend an Open House December 6 at 6 PM at the Gypsum Recreation Center, and to make your voices heard at the Town Council meeting where they will discuss the application on December 13 at 7 PM.
Elam Construction of Grand Junction, Colorado is seeking annexation into the Town of Gypsum and a special use permit to operate a sand & gravel mine along with an Asphalt production facility and possibly a ready-mix concrete batch plant along a pristine stretch of the Colorado River. For more information, see the Annexation Proposal.
Currently within unincorporated Eagle County the development proposal sits firmly against many of the land use visions and zoning for the area. This stretch of riverfront has been called the “Jewel of Eagle County” and “the gateway to the Colorado River and Flat Tops Wilderness areas.” Incorporation into the Town of Gypsum would arguably soften some of those regulations, approvals and oversight.
The proposed site is immediately adjacent to the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s recently approved Dewey Park, which identifies the area as having species such as bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons and song birds who rely on this undeveloped land for habitat. Local river users, wildlife enthusiasts and others are questioning why the town would consider this particular land use in an area immediately adjacent to this preservation. Furthermore, this part of Eagle County is well known for having world class fishing and is directly updtream of several classic white water stretches.
The project appears to have been rushed through local meetings with minimal notice or time for public input, the town mailed property owners within 300ft of the project but otherwise no public awareness of the proposal was created.
It is our hope that we can get the word out to as many people as possible before Tuesday December 13th when the town council will vote on this. Please spread the word and attend these two meetings to make your voice heard!
Before the Gypsum Town council votes on a land use that will have a permanent impact on the river and ecosystem for generations to come, our community has the right and responsibility to gain a greater understanding of the potential benefits (and possible negative impacts) to the town of Gypsum, the environment and the surrounding wildlife.
Photo courtesy of Town of Gypsum Planning Commission