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 23rd: Fremont County Board of Commissioners Reject Amendment to Zoning Resolution
On April 9, 2019, the Fremont County Commissioners held a public hearing to consider Amendments of the Fremont County Zoning Resolution. One of the amendments would have eliminated the requirement to hold public hearings for renewals of Conditional Use Permits (CUP). Conditional Use Permits are required for milling, mining, recycle facilities, sawmills, and transfer stations. Because these are land uses that tend to be unpopular and damaging to both the quality of life in the community and to the environment, RGPP believes public input should be not only encouraged but expanded to include any CUP renewal or extension of greater than 12-months. After listening to public concerns, the Commissioners tabled the decision to allow for further deliberation. At the April 23rd regularly scheduled Board meeting, the Commissioners voted to reject this amendment.
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 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.