Big plans for rock quarry, but company offers few details
In October 2016, Rocky Mountain Resources obtained the leased federal land that houses the Mid-Continent limestone quarry previously held by CalX Minerals.
The site, situated north of Glenwood Springs, on the slope behind Iron Mountain, could soon see a dramatic increase in the project’s size and scale, if the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approves RMR’s forthcoming application.
While that application has not been finalized, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent has obtained correspondence between company officials and home owners in the Oasis Creek subdivision, located just below the quarry site, that sheds some new light on the expansion plan details.
“I had a 90-minute conversation with Bobby Wagner from RMR and another representative of theirs from their law firm in Denver,” homeowner Jeff Peterson said.
Wagner is vice president of Colorado Operations for RMR. According to Peterson, the representative from the law firm in Denver was Michael Stratton. He is listed as senior policy director for the law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.
The firm’s website describes Stratton as, “a prominent Colorado civic and business leader, and one of the nation’s most well-known political consultants.”
As outlined by Peterson, the three sat down April 10 and discussed how the final proposal to the BLM may look, and the economic and environmental impacts it could have on the Oasis Creek neighborhood and Glenwood Springs as a whole.
Currently, RMR is permitted for as many as 20 semi dumptruck loads of limestone a day. The route takes the truck drivers down Transfer Trail onto Traver Trail and U.S. 6 & 24 to Interstate 70.
The new proposal, according to information shared with home owners and other stakeholder groups in Glenwood Springs, would see the number of trucks increase from 20 to between 250-350 per day.
The preliminary plan, shared by RMR officials in a one-page information sheet distributed to city of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County and other entities last month, also envisions a Union Pacific rail loadout along Devereux Road as an option to trucking beyond Glenwood Springs.
“If they are pulling out 350 truck loads a day, that means 700 (round) trips up and down Transfer Trail,” Peterson said.
“What that means for public access to the Flat Tops, how they intend on managing dust as they blow up or extract 7,000 tons of limestone every day, how it effects the air quality and noise pollution and light pollution and carbon pollution … water quality,” he said, rattling off a list of concerns he said he and many of his neighbors share.
“All of these, again, are concerns; nothing that I have any definitive answers on, it’s just, what are we doing here?”
The current limestone extraction site owned and operated by RMR covers roughly 13 acres of land not particularly visible to the Glenwood Springs public eye, except for a few vantage points. The envisioned 260- to 300-acre proposed site RMR has its sights on now, in all likelihood, would, Peterson said.
When Peterson inquired how RMR planned on addressing these concerns, and the potentially dramatic increase in the project’s magnitude, he was met with limited, unspecific responses.
“Nothing was seemingly very defined,” Peterson explained. “It was just like, ‘Don’t worry, that’s not an issue, we’re going to spray it down and you won’t see any dust.’”
He said the company officials indicated the top-down mining method would involved reclaiming areas as they go along. However, Peterson fears it would never look the same again.
“The junipers, the natural face will never be in existence again,” he said.
The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reached out to Wagner for comment. He responded via email, saying, “We are currently in a quiet period and therefore have to decline an interview or statement. We look forward to reconnecting with you after this timeframe is over.”
In earlier interviews, he and other company officials said the company is looking at several ways to reduce the impact of the operation, including use of electric-powered trucks to haul the limestone.
The operation also would have a much larger workforce than it does now, expanding from five full-time employees now to upward of 40 to 50, according to the preliminary information that has been provided. And it would contribute $15 million to $25 million annually to the local economy, according to the informational sheet.
Once RMR submits its formal expansion proposal to the BLM, members of the public will have an initial 30 days to let their voices be heard. The BLM must also decide what level of review to give the application under federal law, either an Environmental Assessment or a much more-involved Environmental Impact Statement.
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