This letter was recently sent to those of you on Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety’s list. It explains the status of Peak Ranch Resource’s application to mine gravel in our Lower Blue River valley. Please read it, then read LBRU’s suggested course of action.

February 16, 2021 

Re: Notice of Informal Public Meeting for March 3, 2021 

Application for 112 Construction Materials Reclamation Permit Application with Public Objections; Peak Materials, Peak Ranch Resource, File M-2020-041 

Dear Party or Interested Person: 

The Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (Division) appreciates you taking time to participate in the review process of the Peak Ranch Resource permit application. The application was filed with the Division on August 8, 2020 by Peak Materials. The review period for the application is currently scheduled to close on March 16, 2021, at which time the Division will be issuing its written recommendation and rational. 

The application will be scheduled for consideration by the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board (Board) at the April 21-22, 2021 Board meeting. A pre-hearing conference will be held after the Division has issued its written recommendation on the application and at least ten calendar days prior to the formal Board hearing. Official notice of the date, time, and location for the pre-hearing conference and formal Board hearing will be provided to all parties and interested persons who are receiving this notice. 

An explanation of the Division’s review process, your rights as either a party or non-party, and the jurisdiction of the Board is provided in a 12-page memorandum, Guide to Citizen Participation, last revised January 12, 2006, which is available through the Division’s web site at https://www.colorado.gov/drms , specifically at this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MorJvrWIQD5Z9tJXU4gdHDFEL6AJljcb/view

Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 virus on the availability of State facilities and Division resources, the Informal Public Meeting will be held by a virtual ZOOM meeting.

Event: Informal Public Meeting 
Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 
Time: 3:00pm – 4:30pm 
Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83133671234?pwd=WXNOM0FNbjNCTEhINk9pSVo3TU0wUT09

During the informal meeting, the Division will present the following information: 

• Explain the reclamation permit application review process 

• Identify the issues which the Mined Land Reclamation Board has statutory   jurisdiction to address under the Colorado Land Reclamation Act for the Extraction   of Construction Materials, C.R.S. § 34-32.5-101, et seq. 

• Describe party status and party rights and obligations 

• Explain the pre-hearing conference process 

• Explain the formal Board hearing process 

During the meeting, attendees will have the opportunity to ask process-specific questions of Division staff. However, individual speaking times may be limited due to time constraints. 

Any person who submits a written comment during the public comment period for the application may be a Party. Party status is subsequently maintained by participating in the pre-hearing conference and formal Board hearing. However, the public meeting to be held on March 3, 2021 is informal and has no bearing on party status. Parties are not required to participate in the informal meeting on March 3, 2021 in order to maintain their party status. 

If you have any questions, you may contact me by email at eric.scott@state.co.us 

Sincerely, 

Eric Scott 

In consultation with our attorneys, we suggest the following course of action for all interested parties:

The state mining application is almost through the staff review process with CDRMS. This meeting is to educate participants about the role of CDRMS, the issues that are within the jurisdiction of the Mined Land Reclamation Board (“MLRB”), and the hearing process. It is not a hearing, and you are not expected to make any comments. If you attend you will be able to ask questions about the process. This meeting will be a ZOOM meeting, so you can attend electronically. You can participate even if you did not apply for “party” status last fall, and if you did, and you do not participate, you will not lose party status.

March 3 Zoom Event is for Anyone

THE MORE OF US THAT ATTEND THIS ZOOM MEETING, THE MORE POWERFUL WILL BE THE MESSAGE WE CONTINUE TO SEND TO CDRMS THAT WE WILL NOT ALLOW A GRAVEL MINE IN OUR VALLEY!

Late March Pre-Hearing
Once CDRMS has issued its final recommendation to proceed or not with the application process, a pre-hearing conference will be scheduled, likely for later in March. The pre-hearing conference is to determine the final parties, what issues will be addressed at the hearing, and how time will be allocated between Peak Materials, CDRMS, and the opposition. For those that wish to remain a party to the case, attendance at the pre-hearing conference is required. We will send you an email prior to the pre-hearing conference to provide you with additional information and to coordinate your participation.

April 21-22 Hearing
The hearing before the Mined Land Reclamation Board is currently scheduled for April 21-22, 2021.  Please put that on your calendar and plan to attend!  We don’t know whether this hearing will also be by ZOOM. 

Our counsel and expert witnesses are in the process of preparing for the hearing. Lower Blue Residents United will provide the primary technical and scientific testimony why the proposed mine cannot meet legal and required state of Colorado mining standards. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work to be done and it is costly. Please visit our How You Can Help page to donate generously NOW!


THE HISTORY OF THE ISSUE

On October 15, 2018, Lower Blue valley resident, Julie Hillyard, sold her 80-acre ranch to Peak Materials (formerly LG Everest), operators of the Maryland Creek gravel/aggregate mine north of Silverthorne. The property lies 10 miles north of Silverthorne in between Highway 9 and the Blue River near its confluence with Slate Creek, and just south of the Ute Pass Road. Click here for context map. Peak Materials is a subsidiary of Kilgore Companies, which in turn is a subsidiary of Summit Materials, a national company based in Denver that specializes in mining aggregates and making concrete.

Peak Materials has determined that only limited inventory of aggregate remains at the Maryland Creek site necessitating the company to seek new gravel mining locations. Peak plans to mine aggregate at the Hillyard site and truck it to Maryland Creek for processing. This proposal would fundamentally change the character of the Lower Blue River valley and would require up to 230 truck trips per day (full load south, empty load north).

Summit County Planning Department requires that a Conditional Use Permit be acquired for such operations. The application would be evaluated based upon the Summit County Land Use and Development Code. The Lower Blue Planning Commission (LBPC) is responsible for conducting the review, which would happen 90 days from application. The Hillyard property permit would be a new one, but Peak Materials would also need approval of an updated Maryland Creek permit since that permit does not allow material to be imported from other locations. If LBPC does not recommend approval of the permits, Peak Materials can appeal the decision to Summit County Board of Commissioners.

Peak Materials ultimately must gain approval from Summit County, as well as Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board (MLRB). MLRB is a multi-interest citizen board which establishes the regulations, standards and policies that guide the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS). The Board was created in 1976 by the Colorado General Assembly. Members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the legislature, serving terms of 4 years. If either the state or county deny the permit, it is game over for Peak.

Thank you for making your voice heard to DRMS. If you asked for Party status you will be notified by MLRB when and where you can participate in the permit hearing. This will now be sometime in the first half of 2021.

We believe that we can convince the MLRB to deny the permit. LBRU has submitted its own request for Party status on behalf of our experts in the domains of water, wildlife, fishery, transportation, and reclamation. We and they judge Peak’s application to DRMS to be woefully inadequate and challengeable for a multitude of reasons.

Be prepared to testify about adverse impacts on:

  • Your water well water quantity and/or quality,
  • Wildlife (including the Blue River fishery),
  • That Peak’s reclamation plan is inadequate (which it is),
  • Even though DRMS is not required to address highway safety, that 230 one-way gravel truck trips a day for 8 months a year back and forth to Maryland Creek for processing, creates a safety hazard for humans and wildlife, potential for vehicles to collide with wildlife, bikers to get run over by gravel trucks, and gravel trucks to collide with cars entering and exiting the various subdivisions between the proposed mine and Maryland Creek.

And/or just say how bad of an idea it is to put a gravel mine in the middle of a rural agrarian valley with:

  • Federal Wilderness on both sides,
  • 1000s of acres of County protected open space,
  • 1000s of acres of working ranches forever protected from development by conservation easements,
  • An ex-Gold Medal trout river re-seeking that status,
  • Wildlife and people who will be adversely impacted by the noise and air pollution created by 230 one way gravel truck trips a day for 8 months a year back and forth to Maryland Creek,
  • No existing industrial activity,
  • Inherent protection from Summit County’s Lower Blue Master Plan which deems any industrial activity antithetical to the natural, rural, and economic values of the valley, and their sustainability.

Here are all documents filed to date by Peak Ranch Resources with Colorado DRMS.

If the state does issue a permit, Peak Materials will then need to get a permit from Summit County. (If the state does not, it is game over for Peak.) The county process would begin with a hearing before the Lower Blue Planning Commission next year. If it recommends to the Board of County Commissioners that a permit be denied, Peak Materials may appeal to the Board.

Our new county commissioners elected in November as of January 12, 2021 are:

District 1: Elisabeth Lawrence: elisabeth.lawrence@summitcountyco.gov

District 2: Tamara Pogue: tamara.pogue@summitcountyco.gov

District 3: Josh Blanchard: josh.blanchard@summitcountyco.gov

LBRU NEEDS MORE MONEY TO STOP THE PIT

We raised money in 2018 to run this campaign, spent a little bit while we waited for Peak to decide if/when they would proceed with permitting, but knew that we would need to raise quite a lot more to pay the best experts, counsel, and strategist to STOP THE PIT. We must continue fundraising if we are to end in its tracks this outrageous attempt to destroy our valley. Even if you gave us money in 2018, we need more (as we had warned you then!) from you now. All donations are tax deductible per our non-profit status described above. It is easy to make TAX DEDUCTIBLE donations with your credit here at ActBlue or send us a check HERE. The more you give, the sooner we can end this. Thank you!

Note: Lower Blue Residents United is a registered Trade Name of For Kids and Nature (EIN 84-1437466), a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. LBRU wants only to educate the public and candidates about gravel mining in the Lower Blue River Valley.