Deal could keep Red Lady pure |

Deal could keep Red Lady pure

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Live in the Roaring Fork Valley long enough, and you’re bound to fall in love with Crested Butte. Heading over the hills to the enchanting town on the other side seems to be an inevitable rite of passage.

Once in my younger days, we mountain biked from Ashcroft, up Express Creek to Taylor Pass, down into Taylor Park and back up Star Pass, down into Brush Creek and up and over Pearl Pass. It was a macho thing but not much fun in a single day. I learned that the scenery is too cool to make such a brutal trip, where there’s no time to spare for soaking in the scenery and side distractions.

Nowadays, I am bitterly disappointed if I don’t take at least a long weekend cycling trip over to the Butte each summer and at least a day trip during the fall. And I know there are Aspen-area residents who spend a considerably longer time in the Butte.

So it will be welcome news throughout the Roaring Fork Valley that the High Country Citizens’ Alliance, the town of Crested Butte, the Red Lady Coalition and U.S. Energy Corp. are discussing a permanent solution to the 35-year fight over mining on Mount Emmons.

The mountain, affectionately known as Red Lady, looms to the west of town. It is a popular backcountry destination, summer and winter. U.S. Energy Corp. holds mineral rights and wants to develop a molybdenum mine.

The proposal would prohibit mining and convert private lands on Mount Emmons to public ownership.

“A final agreement with (U.S. Energy Corp.) will likely involve a combination of federal, local and private interests coming together to create a mutually agreeable exchange of value for the mining rights as well as ensuring continued operation of the water treatment plant that handles water coming from the Keystone Mine at the Mount Emmons site,” said a statement from High Country Citizens’ Alliance, a conservation grouped concerned with all things Crested Butte.

Details of a possible exchange will be released “in the very near future,” and the goal is to have an agreement by the end of the year, according to Dan Morse, executive director of the alliance.

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