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Resort developer muddies waters

Matt TerrellVail correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
Mud spilled last week from a site where the Ginn Company was cutting down trees killed by pine beetles. It seeped into creeks and eventually into the Eagle River. A state official say the resort-building firm was missing a permit. (Courtesy Caroline Bradford and the Summit Daily News)
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MINTURN The Ginn Company, which let large amounts of mud spill into the Eagle River last week during a wood hauling operation, was illegally working without a water permit, said a state water quality official.Any development working on an acre or more or land is required to have a stormwater discharge permit, which ensures that builders are taking the right steps to prevent water pollution, said Matt Czahor, a stormwater inspector with the state.Right now, they dont have one of those permits with us, and operation without that permit is a pretty serious offense, Czahor said.The Ginn site will be inspected next week before consequences, if any, are enforced, Czahor said. Punishments can range from fines to cease-and-desist orders.Were dealing with the fact that they broke ground without a permit, and now we have to make sure they stay in compliance, Czahor said. Their site is pretty dynamic and will require constant oversight.’Oversight is regrettableThe mud pollution apparently came from an area where the Ginn Co., which is planning a private ski resort south of Minturn, was clearing beetle-killed pine trees off the hillside and taking them to a lumber mill.Add in some rain, some snowmelt and a couple trucks hauling wood, and you have mud falling in the water. The mud seeped into Willow Creek, into Turkey Creek and finally into the Eagle River, where it could be seen for 11 miles until it reached the junction with Gore Creek, said water activist Caroline Bradford, who reported the brown water last Tuesday.The mud was quickly cleaned up, and engineers are figuring out how to prevent it from happening again. Sediment traps like ponds, straw bales and silt fences were used at the site, but they failed last week, and the Ginn Co. hadnt secured the proper permits, spokesman Cliff Thompson said.The oversight is regrettable and does not reflect accurately the quality of care Ginn brings to its developments and the resorts it creates, said Bill Weber, senior vice president. We will cooperate completely with the state and demonstrate our commitment to being proper stewards of the land.Lots of other permitsGinn had submitted its pine beetle mitigation plan for review to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Eagle River Fire Protection District, conducted a site review with Army Corps of Engineers for compliance with the Clean Water Act, worked with U.S. Forest Service on site and secured a grading permit from Eagle County prior to doing pine beetle work, Thompson saidThe Ginn Company has been very cooperative and diligent with fixing the problem so far, Czahor said.Bradford said last week its that time of year when construction takes over the valley, and contractors need to remember to contain their sites.Its not only wrong and bad for the river, but its illegal to let mud into the waters, Bradford said.Minturn is located just southwest of Vail, off Interstate 70.


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