This letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was shared with Ark Valley Voice:
Atten: Ms. Stephanie Carter, BLM
Dear Ms. Carter,
On behalf of the members of the Methodist Mountain HOA, please include these comments in the official record hearing for the proposed Hard Rock 64.2 acre expansion.
I want to state that the Methodist Mountain HOA and it’s members strongly oppose any expansion of the Hard Rock operation.
Early Expansion: In 1998, Hard Rock requested additional acreage from BLM and Chaffee County and that request was denied. The reason being, CR 107 is the only access road in and out by Methodist homeowners and others living in the area. It is the only road for fire safety. In 1998, CR 107 and 108 were experiencing heavy bicycle traffic and the use by Salida High School of the track team in the spring and the cross country team in the fall. The recreational use of the area has grown substantially over the past 22 years. The County Commissioners also ruled the cemetery at the bottom of the hill was almost exclusively a child’s cemetery from the flu epidemic in 1918 and would be adversely impacted by any expansion.
Heavy Traffic: Today, traffic from homeowners, heavy trucks, hikers, bicyclists, and general visitors to Methodist Mountain has increased exponentially. It is not unusual to pass three to four heavy trucks on a trip to U.S. 50. Twenty trucks an hour or 75 per day is common and any expansion will greatly increase this truck traffic on the narrow CR 107. The users of CR 108 include the residents of the Methodist Mountain Estates, Choctaw/Cherokee Heights, and Boot Hill subdivisions, and other residents as well as cyclists riding on CR 108 to access numerous trails on Methodist Mountain and the Sangre de Cristo wilderness.
Air Quality: The open pits and heavy equipment at Hard Rock continue to cause extreme degradation of the air quality in the entire region and directly over Methodist Mountain HOA. This continues to increase on a monthly basis and should be monitored by Hard Rock and the State’s Air Quality Control Commission. It has become a serious health concern for the southern region of Chaffee County.
Wildlife Resources: Methodist Mountain is the home of a variety of wildlife throughout the year. The residents do an excellent job of keeping dogs in control, garbage in containers, and wildlife flows through the region with minimum conflicts. The proposed expansion will certainly disrupt the present situation. It is noted that Hard Rock continues to operate late in the evening and early mornings, resulting in additional noise, movement of wildlife, and increased air pollution.
Visual impacts would be significant. The existing scar from Hard Rock is visible from U.S. 50 and will continue to expand and result in degraded scenic values throughout the southern portion of the County. The residents of the Methodist Mountain Estates, Choctaw/Cherokee Heights, and Boot Hill subdivisions, as well as numerous other individual homes in the Methodist Mountain area, have planned, designed, and built their homes to take advantage of the stunning views of the Arkansas River Valley, Collegiate Peaks and the existing piñon forest in the area of the proposed expansion.
Loss of Property Values: Residential values throughout Methodist Mountain are very strong. Any expansion of the mine would adversely impact the home values in the area. The statement by BLM that in Fiscal Year 2018, non-energy minerals on the BLM lands in Colorado generated approximately $194 million in economic output and supported 650 jobs, is a deceptive effort to weight the argument toward supporting expansion and is unsubstantiated. It should be removed from any future reports.
Respectfully submitted by;
Jerry Mallett, Salida
Methodist Mountain HOA