Crystal Valley Caucus votes to oppose year-round mine |

Crystal Valley Caucus votes to oppose year-round mine

Aspen Times staff reportAspen CO Colorado

REDSTONE – As the deadline for public comment on a proposed marble and alabaster mine nears, the Crystal Valley Caucus weighed in with a strong vote against a proposed year-round operation.The caucus of residents in the Redstone area voted 22-1 March 10 to oppose three key provisions in Elbram Stone Co.’s latest application for a permit to mine near Avalanche Creek, according to caucus chair Dee Malone. They opposed operations during winter months because it would be counter to the U.S. Forest Service’s closure of the area to motorized traffic during winter to minimize disturbance in bighorn sheep habitat, Malone said.The caucus members were also opposed to allowing campsites and overnight stays for workers of the mine property, she said. Five members of the caucus abstained from voting.The Mystic Eagle Mine, formerly known as the White Banks Mine, is about 11.5 miles south of Carbondale and roughly 6 miles north of Redstone, along the road that leaves to the Avalanche Creek campground.The owners, headed by Walt Brown of Glenwood Springs, contend the mine holds valuable deposits of black and brown marble. They contend they need a year-round, 20-year permit to make investment feasible. Neighbors have expressed concerns in public meetings about environmental degradation and disruption of their peace and quiet. The mine owners claim their operation will have little impact.A more detailed position on the mine will be worked on by the caucus board and brought to the membership for a vote in May. Meanwhile, Thursday’s vote will be forwarded to Pitkin County and the U.S. Forest Service, according to Malone.A separate organization, the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association, also came out this month in opposition of the year-round mining operation. Its letter to the Forest Service cites the potential affect on bighorn sheep habitat as the primary reason.The Forest Service is accepting public comment on the proposed mine through Friday, March 18, as part of its review of the application. Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Scott Snelson will make a final decision on the mining permit, focusing on surface conditions. A decision isn’t expected for six to eight months.The mine’s plans of operations is posted on line at: Navigate to “Land & Resources Management” then “Projects.”Written comments can be addressed to: White Banks Project, c/o Skye Sieber, Project Leader, 0094 County Road 244, Rifle, CO 81650 or e-mail to: Persons commenting should include their name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if any; and specific facts and supporting reasons for Snelson to consider.