The 1,450 mile long Colorado River flows through much of the American Southwest and meets the ocean in Baja, Mexico. The river begins and gains its power in central Colorado, where it facilitates a plethora of recreational opportunities. Not to mention the drinking water and other uses the Colorado River allows. On the banks of the Colorado River, near the confluence with the Eagle River, a proposed sand and gravel mine threatens the area’s recreation opportunities. Rincon mine, according to the Eagle County Planning Commission, “is not clearly in the public interest.” Time will tell, however, whether or not this mine is approved.
The confluence, as it is referred to locally, is where the Colorado and Eagle Rivers meet. This stretch of river and the surrounding environments provide high quality habitat to a number of fish and wildlife. The recreation opportunities are unmatched as well. Many species of big game, strong trout populations, and various river activities are available and rely on the productivity and natural beauty of the confluence’s landscape. The proposed Rincon sand and gravel mine stands to jeopardize that.
As proposed, the riverside mine would operate for 10 years and extract 225,000 tons of material annually. The actual permitting process is nothing but confusing. Eagle County relies on land use designations to outline what an area of land can be used for. The parcel in question is designated for “rural Agricultural and Outlying Service Commercial with a Potential Community Center overlay.” The Rincon property does not currently enjoy an extraction designation. Rincon, therefore, needs to acquire a Plan Exception from the Eagle County Planning Commission.
The Planning Commission met earlier this month to review Rincon’s application. Despite the Commission’s staff recommending the exception be denied, the Commissioners allowed Rincon more time to provide further detail on several areas. The Planning Commission will next meet on January 6th, 2021, to consider the application and future of this mine. At the first meeting, only one household commented on the mine, and they were in favor of the mine. For a project that could have larger implications for businesses and wildlife, there should be more public comment.
Ben McCormick of Cutthroat Anglers, a local business owner, is building opposition to Rincon Mineral’s mine. “It is our duty as Colorado water users to speak out against projects like the Rincon Mine,” said Ben. “We must protect and preserve the areas surrounding our river systems, especially the Eagle and Colorado River, or these landscapes will not exist for future generations to enjoy.”
If you want to learn more about this project, Ben wrote a detailed summary HERE. Additionally, if you want to voice your opinion, either for against the mine, you can email the commission (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are against this mine and want to stand up for the Upper Colorado River’s natural beauty and long term preservation, you can sign on to this petition!
Cover picture courtesy of Doug Hensel.