Heavy metal on Independence Pass to be scrapped | AspenTimes.com

Heavy metal on Independence Pass to be scrapped

ASPEN – If you’re looking for a unique way to get in shape for ski season, Mark Fuller has just the activity for you.

Fuller needs about 30 laborers to help remove old metal snow fencing that litters the high terrain surrounding Independence Pass southeast of Aspen. The fencing was erected and scattered in the early 1960s as part of a water conservation project, from what Fuller can gather. The fencing was abandoned later that decade. Three primary sites with 55 tons of metal are being cleaned up by the Independence Pass Foundation, which Fuller directs.

“We’ve kind of been building a war chest for a few years for this project,” he said. The fencing makes an unsightly mess in some of the most beautiful terrain in the mountains. The metal sheets also choke out the delicate high-altitude vegetation.

Volunteers are needed Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 21 and 22. The foundation will accept laborers who can only work one of those days.

The helpers will stack metal sheets and bundle them for removal by a helicopter. The metal sheets are between 6 and 12 feet in length and weigh 12 to 22 pounds. Volunteers must be physically fit and capable of aerobic activity at 12,000 feet in elevation.

The Independence Pass Foundation is a well-known nonprofit organization that works to improve the environment of Aspen’s signature pass. Fuller said prisoners from the state prisons in Buena Vista will be enlisted to help with the project, but they can only work half days because of transportation issues. He hopes the foundation can harness other volunteer labor because of its tight connection to Aspen.

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“It’s kind of a fun project,” Fuller said. “It’s one of the unusual things that come along, kind of glamorous, kind of cool.”

The metal is in three primary sites: one north of the summit, one on the ridge to the southwest, and the last and largest at the head of Mountain Boy Gulch to the east of the summit. About 30 tons of metal litters Mountain Boy alone, Fuller said. “I was blown away when I went up there and inventoried it.”

About 10 tons of erect fencing was removed southwest of the pass in the 1990s, Fuller said. The remaining 55 tons is stacked on the ground or assembled but not erected.

The metal will be hauled to the summit parking area and possibly other staging areas. Fuller is working to find a scrap metal dealer that will pick up the material.

Volunteers can call Fuller at (970) 963-4959.

scondon@aspentimes.com