Rincon Mine Summary
Rincon Partners LLC is attempting to build a 69.5 acre sand and gravel mine on the north side of Highway 6 to the immediate east of the Union Pacific Railroad at the confluence of the Eagle and Colorado River. This mine would be operational for 10 years and would extract 225,000 tons of gravel per year. This image visualizes the impacted area at the Dotsero i70 exit.
The Dotsero Area plan established in 2012 currently designates this area as “Rural Agriculture”, “Outlying Service Commercial” with a “Potential Community Center”. Intent F under Rural Agriculture states “avoiding negative impacts from resource extraction operations”. Resource extraction is NOT a specific land use designated for this area anywhere in the plan. Rincon Materials owner Mike Young purchased the property in 2019. Young is a luxury real estate developer in Vail. Rincon has submitted a Plan Exception and the Eagle County Planning Commission must pass this Exception, then it will go to the County Commissioners and they vote on the special use permit.
The Planning Commission Staff recommended denying the exception in this detailed report. Very key to remember it's not the staff that vote, its the Planning Commissioners and there are 7. The last discussion on the mine was December 2nd and the whole thing is on film here. Its 3.5 hours long and only 1 public household stayed on long enough to comment at the end, and they said they approve of the mine. Here is a quick summary of 6 of the 7 Commissioner's feedback.
1. Leah Mayer- Do not approve this Exception
- You will see mine from road, not raft
- We need more public comment, feedback!
2. Dee Wiser- Do not approve this Exception
3. Brian Judge- “I want to find a way to approve the Exception!” but was very unsure and had a lot of questions.
- Has a big problem with Pit 3
- Access road up to property is concerning
- Drainage channels
- It needs to be more defined, doesn’t understand it all well enough but don’t want to kick this to the curb
4. Robert Warner- wants to approve it but feels language in original Dotsero Plan will prevent this from passing
- We need the resource but nobody wants it in their backyard.
- Bobby seemed disappointed to say that “It’s not really a gray area to me I think it was point 6 that talked about extraction sort of put the kabob on it” in reference to denying the Exception. Not sure exactly what that means but he is saying no right now, wants to vote yes
5. Greg Moffet- Greg is the top honcho and wants to approve the Exception
- Excluding this use was not the purpose of the plan in 2012
- He thinks we have taken mining use away from a property owner
- We need the resource and we know that reclamation works
6. Tim Carpenter- Wants to approve
- Rincon does great job of addressing concerns, can’t tell the Hidden Valley Gravel pit is there, same thing will happen here.
- There is a public need and makes construction projects more economical
Rincon said let's table this so they can come up with more detail on these specific questions. The next meeting is January 6th and we need public respresentation. Two people in the same household are not a representation of the public.
Why we MUST oppose this project as outoor enthusiasts!
Criteria 1- the need for an exception is the result of a unique or extraordinary situation or opportunity that was not anticipated or full vetted when the Plan was adopted
- Extraction/Industrial Uses were considered when developing the plan. The plan states “service businesses and low impact industrial or manufacturing uses may be determined appropriate in these areas”. Eagle County Planning Commission staff found “extraction and processing of gravel, minerals, rocks, sand or other earth products” are not considered low impact.
- The Hidden Valley Pit received an expansion in 2005 extending the life of the operation through 2045 for a max of 350,000 tons of gravel per year.
Criteria 3- the proposal is clearly in the public interest, and addresses a viable public need.
- The Eagle County Planning Commission agrees that gravel is integral in the construction and maintenance of infrastructure so it does address a viable public need
- The Planning Commission is split on whether they agree this mine is clearly in the public’s interest
- Unhealthy air, noise pollution, increased heavy truck traffic, impact on scenic views, material stockpiles, tall equipment
- Mine will block wildlife and disrupt their migratory patterns
- The mine is only operational for 10 years so the short term economic impacts are not comparable to the negative long term environmental impacts in the area.
The gravel pits in nearby Gypsum and the Hidden Valley Mine a few miles north of Dotsero will provide 40 more years of gravel from more appropriate land zones. The long term impacts of this project far outweigh the 10 years of economic benefit the mine will provide. A primary goal of The Dotsero Plan is the preservation of its world class recreational offerings like rafting, hunting, fishing, hiking, and its agriculture lands and open range characteristics. We must not allow powerful corporations and a few select individuals to overturn these important designations for their personal gain. This thing has a very good chance of passing if the general public, specifically the fly fishing industry, does not get more involved.
What you can do to help?
- Send a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org expressing opposition to the mine
- Like the Save our Confluence Facebook page
- Spread the word to other Colorado River water users
- Repost our social media updates on this issue
- Post on your own social media
- Blog it
- Email it to your contacts
Thanks for reading,