BLM begins reviewing Glenwood Springs quarry expansion proposal
The owners of the rock quarry above Glenwood Springs have officially filed a proposal to modify its operations with the federal government, according to a spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management.
Rocky Mountain Resource Management (RMR), which owns the limestone quarry and has previously indicated it wants to expand the mining operation just north of Glenwood Springs, delivered the proposal over the weekend, according to David Boyd, public affairs specialist for the BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office.
Before releasing the proposal to the public, the BLM must review the documents to ensure it has enough detail. The BLM has 30 days to make its determination, and if it finds the proposal to be complete, the office will post the full proposal online, Boyd said.
Many Glenwood Springs residents and public officials oppose the quarry’s expansion, and are anxious to learn what, exactly, RMR is proposing. But the period for formal public comment is still a ways off, Boyd said.
“We are likely months away from the beginning of the first public comment period, but we will post the proposal once we deem it complete because of the high level of interest,” Boyd said.
The BLM considers a proposal if it includes sufficiently detailed plans for quarry operations, a reclamation plan, monitoring procedures, and an interim management plan that covers what will be done if operations shut down for any reason.
If the plan needs additional detail, BLM will return it to RMR for revision, Boyd explained.
The period for public comment, part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process, will not open until BLM completes several other studies of the proposal.
Specifically, the BLM needs to collect hydrological data from the area and also survey caves within the perimeter of the proposal.
The BLM must also determine which category of mining laws and regulations the various aspects of the proposal fall under.
Currently, RMR is allowed to mine limestone under a fairly restrictive category of regulations. In October, it started drilling exploratory holes to search for dolomite, which could allow the company to sell rock for road base and other uses. The BLM granted the company permission to drill “up to 15 drill holes, each no more than 200 feet deep, within three possible areas inside the existing disturbance of the quarry.”
When RMR took over the site in 2016, the quarry was operating beyond its permitted 15.7 acre footprint. A spokesperson for the BLM said in October that RMR had not expanded the quarry’s size, but also had not reduced the size and was still out of compliance with the permit.
The Glenwood Springs Citizens Alliance, a community group formed to oppose the quarry expansion, has criticized the BLM for not mandating RMR comply with its perimeter while drawing up plans to expand.
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RMR wants to drill monitoring wells and exploratory holes at the same time — the county code says that’s not allowed.