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For JeffCo Club Members:

Another Mine Affecting Eldorado Canyon State Park

by Eric Johnson, Citizens for Eldorado Canyon

Public opposition is needed immediately to help stop long-term environmental damage in the Eldorado Canyon watershed. For the third time in 15 years, a large, highly- visible quarry has been proposed near Eldorado Canyon to mine construction aggregates. Unsuccessful in 1983 and 1990, a revised attempt is currently underway to rezone the forested mountain property for development of a 166-acre open-pit mine and processing facilities. In an area the size of over 100 football fields, up to 1.5 million tons of rock would be blasted out and crushed in a 60 year operation. Detailed information, maps and photos regarding the issue is available on the World Wide Web at the following addresses: http://www.coalcreek.com/quarry.html and http://www.river.com/noquarry/ 

The proposed quarry would be in the South Draw tributary to Eldorado Canyon, in Jefferson County on the Boulder County - Jeffco line. The site is immediately contiguous with western portions of Eldorado Canyon State Park. Vehicles commuting to the mine would cross park land daily. The quarry would be adjacent to Walker Ranch of Boulder Mountain Parks and the Asel property of Jefferson County Open Space. It would be visible from many points in surrounding parks and open spaces, parts of Boulder, highways, and nearby residences in Boulder and Jefferson Counties.

In May of 1998, the current owners of the property, Asphalt Paving Company, submitted a request to rezone the land to allow mining. Their proposal is now before the Jefferson County Planning Commission, being evaluated by county staff. A public hearing by the Planning Commission is scheduled for February 24, 1999. Planning recommendations will be submitted to the County Commissioners, who will hold a public hearing sometime this Spring prior to making their final decision.

The 1998 proposal is similar to the one denied in 1983, but is more intensive. It allows more extraction, on-site crushing, higher vertical cut, and structures to be twice as high—with lighting three times as high. Moreover, zoning provisions will follow industrial rather than residential standards. Crushed rock would be transported by rail, as in the earlier proposals.

Aggregate mining is an extremely intensive and destructive land use. Impacts include loss of wildlife habitat, fragmentation of natural corridor, disappearance of wildlife in immediate and surrounding areas, air and water quality degradation, increased noise, groundwater depletion, depressed property values to homeowners, and visual intrusion.

The property is now zoned Agricultural-1 which allows agricultural and low density residential uses, but does not allow mining. The land is part of an extensive forest corridor of mountain land that includes public parks, open spaces and several homes. Scar Top Mountain, within the rezoning boundary, is a well-known landmark behind Eldorado Mountain. Jefferson County has for years planned to link adjacent Boulder County and Jeffco open space trails with a new trail directly through the quarry site. If the rezoning proposal is turned down, the land could possibly be purchased by the state parks.

Public input opposing the Asphalt Paving mine is needed immediately! People should write letters to the Commissioners and also attend the Planning Commission hearing on the quarry February 24th and the Commissioners meeting in March. Individuals should send letters to Commissioners Michelle Lawrence, Patricia Holloway, Richard Sheehan and/or Jeffco Planning Commission at the following address:

Jefferson County Commissioners / Jefferson County Planning Commission
100 Jefferson County Parkway, Suite 3550 Golden, Colorado 80419-3550

Richard Turner, Jeffco Director of Planning may be contacted at 303-271-8771 or rturner@co.jefferson.co.us  for confirmation of the meeting time or for further information on the Commissioners hearing.

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