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Opposition To Strip Mine Expansion Plan Growing In Glenwood Springs

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) - An opposition campaign called "Don't Strip Glenwood" will formally launch Saturday, but there's already growing opposition in the region to a planned mine expansion that's a stone's throw from downtown Glenwood Springs. Mid-Continent Quarry is a limestone strip mine located on BLM land directly adjacent to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and just one mile from downtown.

Amusement Park Ride with Man and Woman on Swing
The Glenwood Cavern Flyer at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park (credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rocky Mountain Resources, the owners of Mid-Continent Quarry, is seeking a massive expansion of the mine, which is currently 20 acres in size. The mine would grow to 447 acres under the plan.

Steve Buckley (credit: CBS)

The City of Glenwood Springs is preparing to fight the expansion on the ground in Glenwood Springs and all the way to Washington, according to the town's elected officials. They claim the city's economy would be injured by the expansion plan.

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Under the proposal, truck traffic would increase from 20 trucks a day to up to 500 a day. Rail cars would come every five minutes, with a train idling on the railroad track during the entire production shift. Over a 12 hour shift, that means a truck would emerge from the mine every 96 seconds and one would head back into the mine every 96 seconds: standing at a single spot a truck would go by every 48 seconds.

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It would also create a giant scar in the middle of the mountain town. The pit miners would blast cliff walls, crushing and processing debris and transporting it down the historic Transfer Trail, across the world-famous Colorado River, to be loaded onto rail cars in Glenwood Springs.

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The owners of Glenwood Hot Springs are also opposing the project, claiming their hot water springs source would be impacted by the work.

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In 2018, the Glenwood Springs Citizen's Alliance was formed to mount a community campaign opposing expansion and development. This year, many regional neighboring municipalities,including New Castle, Snowmass, Pitkin County, Basalt, Carbondale, Silt and Rifle, passed resolutions opposing the mine, with more municipalities, including Aspen and Eagle County, set to follow suit.

Rocky Mountain Resources spokeswoman Elana Weiss Rose released the following written statement to CBS4 on Thursday:

RMR is the most intentional, thoughtful and focused owner and operator of the Mid-Continent limestone quarry in decades.
The Mid-Continent Limestone Quarry is a source of an uncommon and locatable mineral. Due to its high purity and our strategic positioning, the asset is poised to become one of the most important quarry's benefitting the people of Western Colorado.

We are proud to have the ability to produce chemical grade limestone products capable of providing a wide range of beneficial uses for society. These include food manufacturing additives, flue gas desulphurization, acid mine drainage remediation, wastewater treatment, and soil conditioning and stabilization. Limestone products often are the key ingredient or sole product enabling the cleanup of spills or removal of dangerous chemicals from the environment.

In 2016, we acquired the quarry and immediately began making improvements. Under prior regimes, Mid Con was operationally and financially neglected. Prior ownerships inattention was equally noticeable with their lack of local community engagement. We discovered after the acquisition, prior ownership operated with inconsistencies and RMR immediately began self-reporting them to requisite agencies. We have taken a collaborative approach toward long term solutions. RMR's intentional efforts has created a professional environment with high standards of safety and environmental responsibility. We believe the quarry, under RMR's ownership, is now one of the safest and most thoughtful operations in the region.

Currently, many Glenwood Springs' employers are unable or unwilling to provide their employees adequate wages to afford the town's high cost of living, including affordable housing for teachers and developing professionals. RMR believes a community should embrace opportunities to improve the lives of its constituents, not just those who can afford to influence local politics. In combination with RMR's investment plan, Mid-Con will employ 100 professionals, making it one of the larger employers in Garfield County. In a locale lacking economic diversity, RMR represents a healthy commercial alternative, and is developing plans with prospective commercial owners in Glenwood to work in concert with tourism. Our investment will drive local commerce to the benefit of all surrounding communities and provide the entire State of Colorado continued infrastructure support."

The Colorado Mining Association has come out in support of the mine's expansion.

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