Pro­posal is the pits for river lovers

Out­door en­thu­si­asts are fight­ing the plan for a gravel mine and an as­phalt plant.

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Ja­son Blevins

gyp­sum» A plan to de­velop a gravel pit mine and as­phalt plant on a sage brush mesa above the Colorado River is roil­ing Ea­gle County river users and openspace ad­vo­cates who have spent years fight­ing to pro­tect the cor­ri­dor from de­vel­op­ment.

Grand Junc­tion as­phalt paving firm Elam Con­struc­tion and landowner Karl Berger are ask­ing the Gyp­sum Town Coun­cil to an­nex more than 150 acres above the Colorado River and is­sue a special per­mit to al­low the com­pany to de­velop a 10-year pit mine and as­phalt plant that could pro­duce and process 230,000 tons of ag­gre­gate a year for con­struc­tion in the grow­ing Ea­gle Val­ley.

The plan calls for a 30-foot­deep ter­raced mine near the con­flu­ence of Deep Creek and the Colorado River, bor­dered by county open space and Bureau of Land Man­age­ment land. Dot­sero, in un­in­cor­po­rated Ea­gle County, has cul­ti­vated a recre­ation-rich rep­u­ta­tion as the “gate­way to the Colorado River and Flat Tops Wilder­ness” and a por­tal to some of the state’s best fish­ing, hunt­ing, camp­ing and float­ing. Up­stream, lo­cal open space ef­forts have pre­served hun­dreds of acres of river­front ranch­land as open space for recre­ation, wildlife and water pro­tec­tion.

Berger has spent many years clear­ing the lower par­cel of his 166-acre Coy­ote Ranch along the banks of the Colorado River. He re­moved old min­ing and rail­road de­bris, then graded, seeded and ir­ri­gated a pas­ture. He has hosted the an­nual Amer­ica Cup World Fly Fish­ing Cham­pi­onships on the land for the last two years. Last month, he inked a $190,000 deal with Ea­gle County Open Space and the Ea­gle Val­ley Land Trust to pro­tect the pas­ture, as­sur­ing that the 6,000 feet of river­front and 38 acres can never be de­vel­oped.

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