Contractor seeks to build gravel pit between Silt and Rifle |

Contractor seeks to build gravel pit between Silt and Rifle

Land between Silt and Rifle a developer wants to use for a new gravel pit.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Garfield County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a major land use change permit for a proposal to create a new gravel pit operation between Silt and Rifle.

IHC Scott Inc., a civil contractor based in Englewood, plans to create a wet mining operation within 57.9 acres of land situated south of the Colorado River and north of Interstate 70.

The project itself covers nearly 20 acres, while excavation activity is set to cover 12.39 acres.

The area will include a five-foot perimeter berm for visual and noise mitigation.  

The biggest question to come from this proposal is whether the operation disturbs neighboring wetlands and vegetation. One of the permit conditions includes a 35-foot setback between operations and wetland areas, as well as another 100-foot setback from neighboring property lines.

Garfield County Principal Planner Glenn Hartmann said the only possible disturbance to any wetlands would be during construction of the berm, which requires a minor waiver to the 35-foot setback.

“There is a potential for, in some locations on the site, an area of 10 feet of disturbance that would be immediately adjacent to the berm,” he said.

Hartmann said Scott proposes to utilize silt fence and other physical barriers to delineate the boundaries of the wetlands. 

“They have the perimeter berm in place to protect the wetlands,” he said. “They plan on reclaiming and revegetating the berm surfaces including areas near the wetlands. 

The site is currently irrigated pastureland with typical upland pasture grasses, according to county documents.

“Significant portions of the site have been identified with wetland vegetation,” county documents state. “A portion of the site contains riparian woodland consisting of Russian Olive and sparse shrub understory.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Kirk Oldham suggested in a letter to the county that measures be taken to avoid excessive sedimentation into the Colorado River at the point of the operation, “as there is critical habitat for Native and Endangered species downstream from the proposed operation.”

“Vegetation on the newly constructed berms, as well as the newly constructed ditch, should be allowed to establish a new base of vegetation before water with high sediment loads are removed from the proposed project area and placed into the ditch to flow into the Colorado River,” he said.

The operation, with 25-ton dump trucks set to make 32 daily trips during operating hours, will generally be open April-November. Hours are set for 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Phase three of the project — the mining activity itself — is slated to take between 3-5 years. Up to 300,000 cubic yards of material is anticipated to be mined during this time.

Local attorney Michael Sawyer represents neighboring landowners. He said in a letter to the county that IHC Scott revising their mining operations from originally groundwater dewatering to wet mining has the ability to greatly mitigate impacts to the Colorado River and nearby lands.

“Both the Colorado River Ranch and Island Park properties feature prominent agricultural and natural features which have been protected by conservation easements,” he said in the letter. “In prior iterations of IHC Scott’s request, the gravel pit activities would have dramatically destroyed agricultural areas and the natural environment on the Colorado River Ranch and Island Park properties.”

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