Marble logging plans get neighbor barking |

Marble logging plans get neighbor barking

A small-scale controversy, described by one government official as being “like the Hatfields and McCoys,” has erupted in the tiny hamlet of Marble high in the Crystal River Valley.

Local landowner Larry Darien is planning to clear-cut about 25 acres of aging aspen trees on land he owns at the base of Prospect Mountain, in an operation that is expected to be completed within a matter of weeks.

At least one neighbor, however, has objected to the operation, although it appears his objections will have no effect.

John Armstrong, an Aspen Skiing Co. employee who runs the Prospect Mountain Ranch resort in the summers, has voiced concerns about environmental impacts from the building of roads into the clear-cutting site, the clear-cutting itself, and the truck traffic.

But Marble town officials and county bureaucrats don’t seem to be alarmed about the matter.

Mayor pro-tem Vince Savage, reached on Tuesday, said he was unaware of Darien’s plans.

“It’s just a pity to see people doing that in this valley,” he said, when informed of the project.

According to Gunnison County Manager John DeVore, the Darien logging project has been approved by county officials, whose only concerns were whether logging truck traffic would tear up county roads or pose a hazard for area motorists.

DeVore said his public works department has studied the plans and determined that they would not have a negative effect on the roads. Darien has said the operation will involve a maximum of 70 trips by logging trucks, which officials say should not be a problem.

Confirming that he is aware of the dispute surrounding Darien’s plans, DeVore chuckled and remarked, “Sometimes it’s like the Hatfields and the McCoys up there.”

Starting on Nov. 4, crews began clearing roads into Larry Darien’s portion of the old family ranch. The trees are being cut down by a logging contractor, who will sell them to the Louisiana-Pacific wafer board operation in the Grand Valley.

Darien said he plans to cut down about half the aspen trees at the site, as well as any of the larger spruce trees, and leave small spruces standing.

“Nobody’s even going to see it,” he pledged.

Darien said he operates a bed and breakfast that looks up at the area where the clear-cut will be, and added, “I’m not going to do anything that’s going to jeopardize that.”

When the logging is completed, Darien said, he plans to use the logging roads for cross country ski trails, clear a place for an ice skating rink, and run a water pipe down one of the roads from Rapid Creek to a small hydroelectric plant that will generate power for his ranch.

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