Proposal is the pits for river lovers
Outdoor enthusiasts are fighting the plan for a gravel mine and an asphalt plant.
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.