Quarry

A photo illustration shows the proposed expansion of a limestone quarry located above Glenwood Springs.

The city of Glenwood Springs is asking Aspen City Council to pass a resolution, up for discussion on Tuesday, formally opposing a plan to expand a limestone quarry above town.

A proposal from Denver and Los Angeles-based mining company Rocky Mountain Resources would expand the the Mid-Continent Quarry, also known as the Transfer Trail Mine, to roughly 320 acres, up from under 20 acres presently. Mine operators would like to extract as much as 5 million tons per year of material, which opponents say is a 5,000% increase from existing allowances, spiking truck trips from 20 per day to 500.

The resolution Aspen City Council would approve as an action item at Tuesday’s regular meeting notes that “Glenwood Springs is a small city with an economy based on travel, tourism, outdoor recreation, fishing, hospitality, hot springs and other sectors that depend upon the mountains, rivers, clear skies and sounds of nature.”

The “expansion of the mine would lead to large visual impacts, mire the city in truck traffic, damage the thriving tourist economy and seriously impact the water quality and air quality for thousands of rural Coloradans,” the resolution says.

Elected officials in Glenwood, Silt, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale, Silt, Rifle New Castle and Pitkin County have passed similar resolutions.

Aspen’s resolution also takes issue with RMR suing Garfield County after the  county issued a notice of violation claiming that the mine was operating outside the boundaries of the existing special use permit. The suit claims the notice of violation in not enforceable.

“The claim by RMR that a county lacks the authority to enforce a special use permit could have a negative impact throughout Colorado and limit the ability of all counties to protect residents from harmful environmental impacts of the extraction industry,” says the Aspen resolution.

The BLM will conduct an environmental impact statement review process of the RMR proposal, beginning next year.

Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa reached out to Aspen City Manager Sara Ott to request that Aspen pass the resolution opposing the mine expansion and supporting the county’s demand that RMR comply with local regulations and the special use permit. The city of Glenwood Springs is preparing to launch a public engagement effort titled “Don’t Strip Glenwood” opposing the mine expansion, with a press conference scheduled for Friday. That morning, media members are invited to join Glenwood City officials and a representative of a citizens group opposing the mine for a press conference about the campaign, followed by a tour of the mine site.

On Saturday, the city is hosting an event open to the public from noon to 3 p.m. at the Glenwood Springs Community Center that will include a presentation on the mine expansion and the potential impacts to the city.

“Come celebrate our community milestones of 2019, look ahead to what’s coming, and get the facts on the Mid-Continent Quarry,” says a flyer promoting the event. “We’ve built a great community that won’t be undermined.”

Curtis Wackerle is the editor of Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at curtis@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @CurtisWackerle.