On March 31, the Garfield County Community Development Department issued a second Notice of Violation to Rocky Mountain Industrials for continuing to mine, crush and stockpile limestone for the second winter in a row.
Garfield County also sent the notice to Larry Sandoval, field manager for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Silt. BLM also oversees the quarry operation, which is on public land managed by BLM.
“The Glenwood Springs Citizens’ Alliance supports Garfield County in its attempts to enforce these longstanding permits held by RMI,” said Jeff Peterson, executive director of the Citizens’ Alliance.
Under the longstanding special use permit for the rock quarry issued by Garfield County, mining operations must pause from Dec. 15 until April 15. Outdoor blasting, excavating and stockpiling of rock is prohibited in the winter months in order to protect critical wildlife winter habitat on the south-facing mountainside.
The only winter activities allowed under the permit are crushing of stockpiled rock inside the mine’s building, and hauling that bagged fresh rock dust by truck to coal mine customers, according to Community Development Director Sheryl Bower. This work is called “truck hauling.”
Hauling of crushed rock for purposes other than coal mining, such as supplying road base and aggregate for construction, is not allowed during the winter months under the special use permit.
The Notice of Violation states that Garfield County’s code enforcement officer “observed multiple instances in which RMR can be seen engaging in non-truck hauling operations during the restricted period of Dec. 15, 2019, through April 15, 2020.”
The notice describes the activities the code officer observed and documented:
"He took numerous photos and videos that show that RMR is excavating and removing material from the mountain and engaging in operations other than truck-hauling. Documented work during the months of January through March 2020 has been outside the existing processing plant to include the crushing and additional stockpiling of material from multiple locations along the face of the quarry. Processed and crushed material in addition to the pulverized material [rock dust] was also loaded and hauled off the site."
The March 31 notice references the first Notice of Violation issued by Garfield County on May 8, 2019, over RMI’s failure to comply with winter restrictions during the winter months of December 2018 through April 2019. RMI responded to that notice by continuing mining operations and by filing suit against Garfield County.
“This repetitive disregard of county regulations cannot continue,” states the new notice, which is signed by Community Development Director Sheryl Bower.
Garfield County gave RMI 10 days to correct the violation and comply with the county special use permit. That 10-day period ends Friday, April 10.
Garfield County also provided a copy of the notice to the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS), which prompted the state agency to send a letter to RMI CEO Greg Dangler on April 6.
The state letter, signed by Amy Yeldell, environmental protection specialist with DRMS, notes that state mining regulations require mine operators to also comply with county land use regulations.
Her letter asks Dangler, “Please advise the Division as to how you are working to resolve this non-compliance issue.”