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During the Salida City Council meeting on July 3, the council voted to approve a letter to the Bureau of Land Management in regard to the Hard Rock Main Pit Expansion and Road Realignment. The council was presented with three alternatives to be considered related to the full Hard Rock application. While it was not enthusiastic about any of the alternatives, it opted for a modified version of Alternative B, from the three options below:

  • Alternative A – Operator Proposed Action: This action would accommodate the applicant’s proposal to expand the gravel mining operations by an additional 62.8 acres, realignment of the access road (CR107) within the property, redesign and realignment of the Solstice Trail, and berming and fencing mitigation strategies to minimize disturbance around the site. The lifespan of the mine would be approximately 50 years.
  • Alternative B – No Bike Trail Disturbance: This action would keep the existing Solstice Trail in place but would allow the expansion of the gravel pit to within 30 feet of the trail. The mining area would be reduced down to approximately 41 acres, with an anticipated lifespan of the mine to be approximately 30 years.
  • Alternative C – No Action: This action would deny the proposed expansion, limiting the lifespan of the gravel pit to a relatively short period of time. However, as the property is used and zoned as an industrial site, it would be anticipated that processing activities would continue to occur on the site.

The Hard Rock aggregate mine near Salida would realign the popular Solstice mountain bike trail if the BLM allows it to expand by 63 acres. (Image provided by the BLM)

Council’s recommended adjustments to a modified version of Alternative B:

  • It is recommended that the buffer distance between the Solstice Trail and mining operations be increased to the greatest extent feasible to account for potential erosion and sloughing due to environmental and soil conditions. Any erosion should be immediately remediated by the pit operator.
  • It is recommended that an evaluation be performed of CR 107 to ensure truck traffic from the mining operations does not further degrade the roadway. In addition, it is recommended that the roadway be enhanced to accommodate multi-modal users including bicyclists, recreationalists, and pedestrians along with existing truck traffic counts. Truck traffic to and from the mining site should be limited to the greatest extent possible.

There were also concerns surrounding dark sky and visual impacts as the mine would negatively impact the restrictions that the city is trying to put into place.  Finally, concerns were raised regarding impacts to the view from downtown and Tenderfoot Mountain across to the mine; this perspective was not taken into account in the environmental assessment.

Council also voted to approve Resolution 2021-29 which will allow for remote participation when a local disaster emergency is not in effect. This means after the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are lifted, council members will, upon notifying the City Clerk, be able to attend meetings virtually, something that wasn’t available until the COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions.

Though the meeting was held in person, during the work session on August 2, council members, staff, and those in the chambers all wore masks due to the rise in cases caused by the Delta variant.

Mayor Wood explained, “I think if nothing else, it does set the right tone and right messages and reinforces the severity of the crisis that we’re in. We have not beat this pandemic, we’re in the middle of it still and it is everyone’s responsibility to do everything they can to help prevent it. If that means wearing a mask so be it. If that means getting a vaccine to prevent something that is preventable, I don’t know why you wouldn’t. I think listening to actual science and not somebody on Facebook is probably a worthwhile experience when you’re trying to gather information about what’s best.”

Click here to watch the full regular meeting.

Featured image: Council members wore masks to “lead by example.” Image was taken during August 4 regular meeting.