Town leaders concerned over gravel pit reclamation, long-term effects
For the second time this month, representatives from up and down the valley met – this time to discuss the present and future conditions of gravel pits along the valley’s river corridors.The city manager from Rifle and mayors from Silt, New Castle and Carbondale met in a special meeting with the Garfield County Commissioners on Monday to discuss the future of gravel pit operations along the Colorado River and Roaring Fork River corridors.”We’re not happy about the way the gravel pits are being reclaimed,” said Silt Mayor Dave Moore. “It’s a complicated issue, but there are some improvements that need to be done.”Of most concern is the reclamation efforts that are required of the pits.”There are county regulations, but we have a right as a municipality to add to those,” Moore said. “We want to participate as a united body to help persuade (the Garfield County Commissioners) to formulate a manual to help regulate the gravel pits.”Many of the gravel pits between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs are in the process of shutting down, while several pits are starting up between New Castle, Silt and Rifle.In Rifle, at least one city council member has several issues with the proposed “Scott Pit,” near the main Rifle entrance.”No one is putting all the current and potential pits together under one study and asking, ‘What are the accumulative impacts in the Colorado River?'” wrote Rifle City Councilor Alan Lambert. “How many pits can the river corridor sustain before we begin seeing serious health, environmental and economic impacts?”The communities of Rifle, Silt and New Castle have asked the Garfield County Commissioners for a comprehensive master plan to study the potential impacts on wildlife, economic development, flooding and reclamation before approving any more permits.Another meeting is tentatively scheduled in late September to include other stakeholders in the gravel pit discussions, including the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Geology and Mining, gravel pit owners, water conservation districts and the Army Corps of Engineers.Mayors from Aspen to Grand Junction met earlier in August to discuss a variety of regional issues facing the valley, including oil and gas development, oil shale projects, gravel pits and the development of roadless areas.
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