Strategy plotted for cleanup of Coal Basin

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

The nonprofit Roaring Fork Conservancy has teamed with the U.S. Forest Service to develop a strategy for the continued cleanup of the Coal Basin area west of Redstone.

The partners held an intensive, two-day workshop in Redstone on May 1 and 2 that brought almost 50 experts together to confer on how to carry on critical restoration work.

“The 27-square-mile Coal Basin has been characterized as a ‘gaping wound’ in the Crystal River watershed,” the Basalt-based conservancy said in a statement. “Forty years of large-scale coal mining in an area characterized by extremely unstable, steep slopes has resulted in widespread erosion and debris flows that are consistently degrading water quality and stream habitat throughout Coal Basin and contributing to sedimentation issues in the Crystal River.”

The Colorado Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety completed a series of reclamation projects between 1994 and 2002. However, another 650 acres of disturbed land remains and affects the stream system. The area was targeted for “urgent action” in a study called the Roaring Fork Watershed Plan, a collaboration among the conservancy and other groups working on water issues.

The restoration in Coal Basin will involve a series of projects over numerous years. The Colorado Water Conservation Board has awarded the Roaring Fork Conservancy $40,000 for a pilot project. Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers and Streams Board contributed about $48,000 toward restoration, including the funds for the strategic planning workshop.

A public tour of Coal Basin and discussion of the need for the restoration will be held June 22.


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