Zephyr Minerals Application to Nearly Triple Size with Grape Creek Expansion
The Fremont County Planning Commission reviews Conditional Use Permit applications at public meetings. Application deadlines are twenty-four working days prior to the meeting date for most applications, which means this item will most likely be reviewed at the August 6th Planning Commission Meeting. It will then move on for approval by the County Commissioners, which should include a public hearing process.
Additionally, Zephyr will be submitting a Plan of Operations to the Bureau of Land Management and an application the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) to modify their state permit.
The Colorado State Land Board received nearly 200 pages of letters of opposition against exploration and mining in this area. They can be found on the State Land Board website starting on page 16 of this packet: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VeD8X_zNbdsxAuu2Y31LTF4etbAUsABc/view.
Bureau of Land Management Releases Draft Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan
The Bureau of Land Management has just released the Draft Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan & Environmental Impact Statement (RMP). Once finalized, this plan will establish specific goals, objectives, allowable uses, management actions, and special designations for managing lands within the Royal Gorge Field Office.
The RMP documents are a bit overwhelming, so the BLM is hosting a series of public meetings shown below. Please take the time to attend one of these meetings, become informed, and excercise your right to participate during the 90-day public comment period. This RMP will govern the use of our public lands for the next two decades.
Dawson Gold Project Required Corrective Actions Incomplete
The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) performed an inspection of the Dawson Gold Project on March 20, 2019. The resulting inspection report noted two required corrective actions involving the backfilling and grading of exploration trenches and a petroleum product spill. The deadline for completion of the corrective actions was June 10th. The DRMS and Fremont County Planning and Zoning were notified on June 12th that the corrective actions are not complete. On June 25th, the DRMS granted Zephyr a 90-day extension to complete the reclamation work: https://dnrweblink.state.co.
April 24th: Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety Rejects Appeal of the Approval of the Dawson Gold Project NOI Permit Modification
In February, the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) approved a modification to the Dawson Gold Project Notice of Intent to Prospect (NOI). This modification allows Zephyr Minerals to expand the Dawson Gold Project further east toward the Dawson Ranch Subdivision. This also allows them to build new roads that may intersect the Hot Shots Trail of the popular Section 13/South Canon Trails according to Zephyr's representative, Angela Bellantoni, of Environmental Alternatives: https://dnrweblink.state.co.us/drms/0/edoc/1275362/2019-03-28_REVISION%20-%20P2013002.pdf?searchid=29069fbf-7072-4aa6-82b7-660d26e65fb4.
The DRMS decision was appealed, and the Mined Land Reclamation Board agreed to hear the petition for appeal at the March 27-28, 2019, Board Meeting. On March 19, Zephyr requested a continuance of the hearing until the April 24th-25th Board Meeting. At the April 24th hearing, the appeal was denied based on the lack of DRMS jurisdiction regarding Zephyr Minerals' lack of legally established access to their areas of operation.
During the hearing, the Board Chairman inquired whether Zephyr had easements or rights-of-way to access their claims. Both the DRMS staff and the appellants testified that neither existed. It was later noted by another Board member that Fremont County Planning and Zoning had lifted the contingency placed on the Dawson Gold Project County Conditional Use Permit (CUP) requiring proof of legally established access to all areas of exploration. The Board member inquired of the appellants why the county had provided a letter stating that Zephyr's access had been "legally established" when neither easements nor rights-of-way existed. The appellants responded that there are no legal agreements between Zephyr and the multiple property owners, thus there is no legally established access, and the Planning and Zoning Division should never have lifted the contingency.
The state permit modification lies outside of the current County Conditional Use Permit boundaries. According to the Fremont County Zoning Resolution Section 8.10, Zephyr will need to file a modification with the county to expand operations beyond the initial CUP area which should require a public hearing prior to approval of the county modification.
April 11th: Colorado State Land Board Approves Grape Creek-Horseshoe Mountain State Stewardship Trust Land Mining Lease
On April 11th, after acknowledging the large number of letters received in opposition, the Colorado State Land Board (SLB) approved Zephyr Minerals' request for a mineral lease for the Grape Creek-Horseshoe Mountain State Stewardship Trust Land adjacent to the southwest corner of Temple Canyon Park. In a 4 to 1 vote, the SLB voted to lease this property for $1,920 per year. Grape Creek runs throughout this parcel making it a popular fishing as well as hunting destination.
The details of the lease as well as the nearly 200 pages of opposition can be found in the meeting packet at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VeD8X_zNbdsxAuu2Y31LTF4etbAUsABc/view.
The next steps of the process will be the permitting of this expansion of the project at both the county and state levels. Please watch for our email updates about the public input timelines of these very important steps.