Community Meeting & Special Eagle Presentation by Dana Bove, Citizen Science

Save Our St Vrain Valley SOSVV's photo.

We hope that you can join us for our next Community meeting on Wednesday, September 27th at 6:30 PM at the Shupes Homestead, 11931 N. 61st in Hygiene, CO.

1. Presentation: Nesting Bald Eagles in the COLO Front Range by Dana Bove

Dana Bove is studying the behavior of nesting Bald Eagles in Boulder and Weld Counties. Following a rewarding career as a research geologist at the USGS, Dana spends much of his time taking photographs and learning about nesting Bald Eagles. His stunning photography will be shown during the presentation. His stories of these nesting birds and discussion about their current conservation status and well-being will be shared. (1 hour)

2. Discussion Topic: Highway 66

Hwy 66 is statistically the most dangerous road in Boulder County. There have been 5 fatal accidents on Hwy 66 this year. There have been 21 fatal accidents county wide for the year, Hwy 66 has 25% of all our traffic deaths. Update on opposition to adding 240 gravel hauling gondola trucks a day on to Hwy 66. (15 minutes)

3. Discussion Topic: Open Pit Mining – a Flood Risk

During the flood of 2013, it was discovered that gravel mining operations had altered the natural floodplain function resulting in flooding in neighborhoods downstream in the City of Longmont. Update on how we oppose more gravel mining ponds in the floodplain. (5 minutes)

4. SOSVV Chairperson’s Status Report

(10 minutes)

 

Advertisements

Meet the Real Mighty Mouse: The Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse

 

Mion Mighty Mouse

Published in Sept. Oct 2017 issue of The Redstone Review.

MEET THE REAL MIGHTY MOUSE

The Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse, a.k.a. PMJM, was first discovered in Colorado by Edward A. Preble a century before it was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1998 and locally, Boulder County Commissioners approved Special Use Permit 96-18 to convert up to 640 acres of the St Vrain Valley’s Agricultural land and riparian habitat to the industrial use of gravel mining.

Fast forward almost two decades later, SU 96-18 comes out of its hibernation silently and in the dead of winter in January 2017 when the current Boulder County Commissioners approved Martin Marietta Material’s building site plans on it’s five acre property in Lyons, off HYW 66. The illusive Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse is still endangered but thriving in the St Vrain Valley and the entire South Branch ditch pre and post 2013 floods.

Besides its endearing name that may conjure images of wildflowers, the soothing sound of a flowing stream and the kind shade of lush trees and shrub clusters, that is if you’re fortunate enough to spend time in such places and experience the Peace of Wild Things; PMJM’s arguably cute physicality and resemblance to Terrytoons‘ Mighty Mouse with its extremely long tail (that accounts for more than 60 percent of its 8-10 inches length), disproportionately big hind feet and legs designed to help it swiftly leap across small creeks, through wetlands, dense grasses and shrubs in specific riparian habitat where it dwells; They hibernate up to 9 months from September or October through May, according to US Fish & Wildlife. PMJM historically has the super power of staving off indiscriminate industrial takeover in the Front Range– a mighty feat as the urban edge gets blurred by all the industrial smog that can’t be glossed over by all the green-washing, double speak.

Eric Lane, Director of Boudler County Parks & Open Space, (BCPOS) in a recent email to US Fish & Wildlife dated June 27th, says that “Of particular value and concern to…[BCPOS] is habitat of Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse present in the project area. This project area contains invaluable habitat for the mouse, and [BCPOS] trapping studies over the past three years have shown that its comparative importance in the broader landscape context is highly significant”. Using PIT tagging, BCPOS documented 154 unique individual mice in the St. Vrain corridor and the South Branch of the St. Vrain. In comparison, trapping within federally designated critical habitat for the mouse in Boulder County, South Boulder Creek, resulted in very few individuals, and *no trapping success within the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge. BCPOS director affirms “…that *the population along the St. Vrain is of increasing importance in a population dynamic context. [And] While [BCPOS]…[has] reviewed the 2001 Biological Opinion (ES/GJ-6-CO-01-F-045) associated with this project, some of the mitigation measures are difficult to interpret sixteen years later…on the ground *conditions have changed with the passage of time, implementation of some measures by the operator, changes in the ownership and the proposed mining footprint, and lasting effects of the 2013 flood such that a review of the 2001 Biological Opinion by USFWS as part of the overall permit review process is also warranted.”

Habitat Conservation Plans serve a higher purpose than preserving the PMJM; their habitat protection positively affect water quality and quantity; plants act like a buffer zone and filtration system for both surface runoff and water flowing into streams through groundwater or subsurface flow and lower nitrate contamination in surface runoff from fertilizers and manure that would compromise human health and the ecosystem. Riparian zones distribute the streams flow with its root system and diverse plant community, slowing the water, reducing flooding and soil erosion. The St Vrain Valley has had floods for thousands of years. In the 2013 floods, previously mined ponds ruptured and caused severe flooding even in Hygiene and non-floodplain areas of Longmont. There will be more floods in this valley and riparian habitat is needed to protect residents and wildlife, not more mined ponds leading to future flood-damage.

Approximately 90 percent of all wildlife species rely on stream habitats for survival. The conservation of these limited resources is critically important for the survival of many wildlife species. Robertson, of the Center for Native Ecosystems, calls the stream corridors of the Front Range “a network of blood vessels in the landscape,” and “magnets for biodiversity.” With the uncertain future of water resources in the west, wetland habitat in the St Vrain Valley needs to be conserved. Destruction of the most biologically diverse habitats on the Front Range is arguably unrecoverable. As evidenced in the comparison of live PMJM captures: Rocky Flats 0 vs. 145 captures in the St Vrain and South Ditch, the habitat once damaged by irresponsible industry does not recover readily and is never enhanced–it seems that the PMJM don’t thrive in an open space “complex” and require the natural, undamaged, undisturbed habitat of the St. Vrain Valley. There are not many areas left for them but there are plenty of open space complexes.

Jacob Smith, the executive director of the Center for Native Ecosystems in 2004 stated “We’re talking about housing developments and gravel mines here, [The Front Range] is getting blitzed. It’s just getting completely devastated. Protecting the Preble’s mouse is a core part of protecting what’s left of the Front Range.”

Please write your letters to US Fish & Wildlife and ask that the 2001 Biological Opinion (ES/GJ-6-CO-01-F-045) associated with this project be reassessed, and a current Biological Opinion be done. Ask for maximum protection for the PMJM and the Hygiene Bald Eagles from Martin Marietta Material’s proposed mining.

Amanda Dumenigo, Chairperson, SOSVV

Additional Resources:

SOSVV website

BCCP Environmental Conservation Areas Map

BCCP Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse Conservation Areas Map

BCCP Wetlands & Riparian Areas MapBest Management Practices for Wildlife Corridors

Survey of Critical Biological Resources in Boulder County, Colorado 2007-2008

“Mighty mouse: How the Prebles meadow jumping mouse has stood up to Front Range development, and why it is losing” By Benjamin Glahn for Colorado Springs Independent, 2004.

Traffic

 

 

Dear George Gerstle,
As this letter is being forwarded to you I am again listening to fire trucks, police, and ambulances on highway 66.  It appears there is another accident near Mccall Dr. In your line of work accidents must be a constant. I am not sure what the solution is, but I am forwarding to you a letter written to some individuals in Boulder Countyregarding flood restoration and truck route.
 
Warm Regards,
 
Martha M. Sullivan
 

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: martha sullivan
To:preinhardt@bouldercounty.org” <preinhardt@bouldercounty.org>
Cc:rhaigh@bouldercounty.org” <rhaigh@bouldercounty.org>
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2017 1:08 PM
Subject: SU 96-18
To Whom this my concern,
My concern is the proposed route using Martin Marietta’s existing access road to highway 66 east to 63rd street then south on 63/61st to A-Frame Pond and Ramey property. If  those large slow trucks are going to use the same return route they will not be able to enter back on Highway 66. They will have to turn left across the traffic, a 60 mile per hour road during extremely heavy traffic hours. They would be forced to stop in the middle of the road, turn left again, cross the traffic without the benefit of a left turn lane.  The only way the return route would work if possibly a stop light was there. I don’t believe the department of transportation would allow that. I live near and drive highway 66 and watch cars go around the right side, out of the lane, to avoid slowing down for vehicles turning left where there is no left turn lane. The many cars behind that swerving vehicle which in many cases are following to close, can’t see what is in front of them. All of a sudden they see a vehicle stopped 50 feet in front, as the car that was in front of them swerves onto the shoulder to avoid slowing down. Eventually one of the drivers are distracted for a second when the car in front swerves and rear-ends that stopped vehicle at 60 miles per hour. Equal weight vehicles will move each other in the crash, but a car will not move a semi. It is like driving into a brick wall. The Colorado Department of Transportation has recently authorized a study on this road because of all the accidents that occur. Where are the studies of your proposed route? How many people do you think will die because of it?
 
I’m sure it won’t take the truck drivers long to figure out this is a dangerous  return route. They will probably make a large circular route continuing south on 61st to Hygiene Road and take a right turn going to highway 36 where there is a merging lane and turn right onto 66 without crossing traffic. Highway 36 is extremely busy just as highway 66. At certain times the traffic backs up for miles. Potentially there will be  deaths if not at least injuries from a crash. This is not a case if this will occur, but when. Who is in charge of the highway impact study? Is it Boulder County , Martin Marietta, the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District, or the BCOPS or all of these entities? Someone will be held accountable for when these accidents and deaths occurs. Highway 66 is not the same road that it was 20 years ago. It isn’t the same road it was three years ago. A solid stream of traffic can be two miles long at certain times of the day. The other large trucks using hwy 66 turning further west at the cement factory, have special left turn lanes and entrance lanes to access highway 66 which your proposed route does not have. These lanes help prevent accidents. If nothing else the traffic speed limit should be slowed down to 40 miles per hour on Hwy 66 from N 75th st to Hwy 36.  
 
I propose you save lives and stay on the property! Why not just use a heavy piece of equipment and make a temporary loop on the flood reclamation property, going from where the debris is being picked up to where it is being dumped. It would probably  be less than a thousand yards. Access to the Ramey property would be as easy as driving down the A-Frame road to cross the dirt road, 61st street . That way the dump trucks can stay off the 60 mile per hour highways without stopping traffic, and still take care of the flood damage. This course of action might eliminate any liability issues in the future. Regarding Martin Marietta’s mining proposal, I would hope you are able to see the potential adverse impact on the area.  
  
 
Sincerely,
 
Martha Sullivan

 

Letter to Editor: MINING ON THE FLOODPLAIN

Did your home flood in 2013?  Read this!

Flooding in the St. Vrain Valley is a natural phenomenon that has been occurring for tens of thousands of years.

I witnessed the flood of 2013 from my home across the valley on Hygiene Road.  I heard the roar of the river and watched it destroy ponds that were left from mining.  Near 61st and Hygiene Road, the river jumped its track destroying more mining ponds, and it swept that water east with great force.  When the water breached the mining ponds at Pella Crossing, there was a massive swell of water and debris crashing into unsuspecting neighborhoods in Longmont.

The 2014 St. Vrain Creek Watershed Master Plan states, “During the flood, large split flow paths cascaded through the reclaimed gravel mining ponds.  One split channel resulted in flooding outside of the 100-year floodplain and affected neighborhoods downstream in the City of Longmont… Although the adjacent floodplain has been historically connected to the channel sand and gravel mining operations have altered the natural floodplain function for a majority of this reach.”

3 million dollars were spent on repairs to Pella Crossing.  If you go to Pella Crossing, 61st or Hygiene Road, you can see how the power of the floodwater blew out the mining ponds, adding to the catastrophe. The devastation is evidence of the knowledge that mining ponds should not be on a floodplain.

But, Martin Marietta Materials intends to mine between Hygiene Road and Rt.66.  Mining will leave behind even more mining ponds.  Shouldn’t the valley’s floodplain be left alone?  The valley is appropriate for open space, recreation, and agriculture.

Make your voice heard.  Email countycommissioners@bouldercounty.org, and Eric Lane, Director of Parks and Open Space, elane@bouldercounty.org  rhaigh@bouldercounty.org Ask them to say NO to Martin Marietta Materials’ intention to mine more than 400 acres in the St. Vrain floodplain & to FILE in Docket 96-18.  Together we can help avert future flooding in Longmont.

Richard Cargill

Letter to US Fish & Wildlife

Dear Ms Sandy Vana-Miller,

I live in the vicinity of the Hygiene Bald Eagle nest and surrounding prairie dog fields. I am extremely concerned about Martin Marietta’s proposed mining activity in the St Vrain Valley and in particular how that would affect the unique wildlife in this valley. I understand that many of these vulnerable species depend on your protection and fall under Fish & Wildlife jurisdiction.

Although bald eagle population is inclining in the East, Northeast, and Southeast, it is in actual decline in about 13 Southwestern states. Please consider the count data in Boulder County of Bald Eagles as oppose to national numbers. In fact, FIVE out of the NINE nests monitored in 2017 in the Front Range by Citizens Science Bald Eagle Nest Monitoring Team with Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory FAILED. Two nests lost young, including the Erie nest with two losses at seven weeks, and the Stearns lake nest, two losses at one month. On top of this, out of the 14 nests in our general area of the Front Range, the statistics show that nests are a median of 0.25 miles from agricultural properties, and about a median of 1 mile from suburban industrial areas.

Martin Marietta’s SU 96-18 permit would convert up to 640 acres of Agricultural land to intensive, industrial use / gravel mining and would destroy their prairie dog habitat. In addition to these nesting birds in our area choosing to be a safe distance form industry disturbances, they also require the specific type of tree habitat as described above. Most significantly, *ALL Bald Eagle nests in the Front Range are within eyesight of prairie dog colonies.

As evidenced in the Hygiene nest, the fledgling stage is extremely critical in their physical and skill development. I have personally seen them every day over the last several of weeks, at the Hygiene nest: the fledglings and the adults spend over 25 % of their time foraging, hunting, and in the field about 0.25 miles or so from the base of the nestprecisely where Martin Marietta Materials intends to mine.

*The critical significance of the prairie dog colonies and of these foraging fields cannot be overestimated, as observed in the Hygiene fledgelings’ behavior documented in Citizen’s Science’s recent observations in late July 2017:

July 21-Adult male 31% of observation time, ~0.25 miles north, northeast of nest foraging. Fledgling 1, 10% of time at same position (153 total observation minutes); July 24-Fledgling 1, 18% of observation time, 0.2 miles NE of nest foraging; Fledgling 2, 13% same position (120 total observation minutes); July 26-Fledgling 1, 53% of observation time, 0.2 miles NE of nest foraging; Fledgling 2, 10% of time at nearby positions and caught live prairie dog (90 total observation minutes).

Nesting and other Bald Eagles in this part of the Front Range commonly capture live prairie dogs. In the fledgling phase, the eaglets are learning to hunt, and so rely on most of their food to be provided by the parents. The opportunity for the fledglings to stalk and catch their own prey is critical to their individual development as the foregoing area and the prairie dog colony is vital to the sustainability of this nest. I have observed different sets of eaglets hunting in these fields, with live captures in the summer over many years. The nest prairie dog colonies are also necessary for sustainability of the nests during winter months. Hence, any removal or disturbance of the prairie dog colony for Martin Marietta’s highly controversial mining operation will in effect be a take of that nest and needs to be treated as such. According to The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act (16 U.S.C. 668- 668c), disturbance of the prairie dog colonies adjacent to the Hygiene nest will constitute a disturbance of that nest: “Disturb means to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to a degree that causes, or is likely to cause, based on the best scientific information available,1) injury to an eagle, 2) a decrease in its productivity, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior, or 3) nest abandonment, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior.”

Martin Marietta’s mining operation also threatens the Federally Protected, Endangered Preble’s Mouse, aka PMJM and its high density habitat on Martin Marietta’s proposed mining area(s). According to Tim Shaffer, Wild Life Biologist with BCPOS studying Preble’s on County properties, in a September 19th, 2014 email: “Based on the habitat requirements and basic biology of this species, the entire reach of the St Vrain Creek on both the Western & Golden Fredstrom properties, as well as the entire reach of the South Branch ditch on the Western Mobile property, are considered occupied Preble’s habitat. Preble’s were captured on each of these stream reaches both pre and post floods”. Mr. Shaffer documents studies conducted following the US Fish & Wildlife Service survey protocol, on Golden-Fredstrom Property (M-2001-016) on July 14, 2014: “Preble’s were captured along St Vrain Creek, with evidence of breeding population (multiple age classes and reproductive females)”. And in survey done trapping approximately 1,200 meters of riparian habitat, spanning almost the entire length pf the POS property, at the Western Mobile Property / Lyons Pit (M-1977-015), on June 23, 2014 in the St Vrain Creek and on July 21st, 2014 on the South Branch Ditch, “Preble’s were captured on both the St Vrain Creek and the South Branch Ditch with evidence of breeding population (multiple age classes and reproductive females)”. On December 2010, The Fish and Wildlife Service revised the critical habitat designation for the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse (PMJM) “designating approximately 411 miles of rivers and streams and 34,935 acres of streamside habitat in seven Colorado counties. This revision to the Service’s previous critical habitat designation add[ed] an additional 177 miles of rivers and streams and 14,255 acres of adjacent habitat. Areas designated as critical habitat for the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse in Boulder…include riparian corridors along rivers and streams, adjacent uplands, and areas that provide connectivity between and within populations…*The primary constituent elements for the Preble’s include those habitat components essential for the biological needs of reproducing, rearing of young, foraging, sheltering, hibernation, dispersal, and genetic exchange. The PMJM is able to live and reproduce in and near riparian areas located within grassland, shrub land, forest, and mixed vegetation types where dense herbaceous or woody vegetation occurs near the ground level, where available open water exists during their active season, and where there are ample upland habitats of sufficient width and quality for foraging, hibernation, and refuge from catastrophic flooding events.” according toUS Fish & Wildlife (https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/preble/ CRITICAL%20HABITAT/CRITICALHABITATindex.htm).

I appreciate and reiterate the words of BCPOS Director, Mr. Eric Lane on his June 27th letter to US Fish & Wildlife, that “Of particular value and concern to…[BCPOS] is habitat of Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse present in the project area. This project area contains invaluable habitat for the mouse, and our trapping studies over the past three years have shown that its comparative importance in the broader landscape context is highly significant. We have documented 154 unique individual mice (PIT tagging methods) located in the area (St. Vrain corridor and the South Branch of the St. Vrain). In comparison, trapping within federally designated critical habitat for the mouse in Boulder County (South Boulder Creek) resulted in very few individuals, as well as *no trapping success within the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge. We believe that *the population along the St. Vrain is of increasing importance in a population dynamic context. While we are aware of, and have reviewed the 2001 Biological Opinion (ES/GJ-6-CO-01-F-045) associated with this project, some of the mitigation measures are difficult to interpret sixteen years later. We also feel that on the ground *conditions have changed with the passage of time, implementation of some measures by the operator, changes in the ownership and the proposed mining footprint, and lasting effects of the 2013 flood such that a review of the 2001 Biological Opinion by USFWS as part of the overall permit review process is also warranted.” Eric Lane, Director, BCPOS. It appears from the reports that I have read that the St Vrain PMJM population is the only one in the area that is established and thriving and it needs your protection. The PMJM and the eagles do not need an enhanced open space complex, they need the protection of US Fish & Wildlife and our local officials from an invasive, intensive mining operation.

I understand that Boulder County would inherit reclaimed mined areas, however, that would come at a high price in the larger landscape context and at a detriment to Federally protected species who live and thrive in this valley. As evidence both in the live-captures: Rocky Flats 0 vs. 145 PMJM captures in the St Vrain and South Ditch, the habitat once damaged by industry does not recover readily and is never enhanced–  It seems that the PMJM and the eagles don’t thrive in an open space complex and require the natural, undamaged, undisturbed habitat of the St. Vrain Valley.

 

Sincerely,

Amanda Dumenigo

 

SOSVV August 2017 Newsletter

Hygiene Bald Eagle and 2017 fledging in the Prairie Dog field that Martin Marietta plans to mine. Photographs courtesy of Dana Bove.
Photograph courtesy of Dana Bove
Photograph courtesy of Dana Bove
Want to help protect our local Hygiene Bald Eagles? Please read this blog from Dana Bove about our Hygiene Bald Eagle nest and please answer the call to action, send the email (cc parties listed below), or use the template below. Not taking a stand, is a stand. The time is Always NOW. Caring is Sharing–etc etc  Going under the radar is the main strategy utilized by industry to suppress community’s interests and rights, knowledge is power, please use yours to protect our nesting eagles and two fledglings. All bald eagle nests in the Front Range depend on a prairie dog colonies for their survival. Five out of Nine monitored Bald Eagle nests in the Front Range have failed thus far in 2017. We can ensure that the Hygiene Bald eagles are protected with your timely help.

“The field here where these two learn to be eagles is planned to be gravel mined. This is happening in Boulder County, folks, at one of the most popular Bald Eagle nests in the Front Range. We can make a difference at a local level.  Please! just stop for a moment, and look at the map and the photos. The nest tree is right in, or at best, next to the planned mine. These photos [taken last week] of both adult female and fledgling. The photos of the adult and fledgling in the field–feeding on one of the prairie dogs–are right in the path of the proposed quarry!” Dana Bove

U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW) almost routinely allows disturbances of these nests through their legal permitting system. They will likely do this again, and they prefer to do this without any public notice or participation. They are used to and count on the public remaining in the dark. With your voices heard, these wonderful birds might remain protected.

Write an email and cc it to all these people. Please be polite. Mix up the words a bit if you wish to personalize, and please email it along:

To whom it concerns regarding Boulder County Land Use Docket Docket SU 96-18 (Hygiene Bald Eagle nest)

I respectfully request that you deny Martin-Marietta’s plans for gravel mining within sight distance of the Hygiene Road Bald Eagle nest in Boulder County. I ask US Fish and Wildlife to deny any current or future “incidental take” or “take” permit application(s) pertaining to the Hygiene eagle nest. Nesting Bald Eagles are still Federally protected. I am deeply concerned about the well-being of this nest, and both the parent eagles and young that depend on undisturbed foraging and the prairie dog colony in the fields where mining is proposed to occur.
Sincerely,
YOUR NAME

Please File this letter in Docket SU 96-18
Email addresses to send to: julie.mikulas@martinmarietta.com
sandy_vana-miller@fws.gov kevin_kritz@fws.gov jatherton-wood@bouldercounty.org elane@bouldercounty.org dcase@bouldercounty.org rhaigh@bouldercounty.org
amanda@horsense.net

The man behind the signs: Meet Richard Cargill–his idea for an educational campaign via “NO MINING IN the St VRAIN VALLEY” road signs is revving up! Mr. Richard is also the Chairman of the SOSVV Board of Directors. But it’s not his first time at the St Vrain Valley rodeo– in 1999, he was part of the Watchdogs, opposing Cemex burning tires and along with other current members of SOSVV’s Steering Committee, including Don Lutter and Ric Breese, discovered and held Cemex accountable for air quality violations that earned the county millions $$ in penalties (from Cemex), and seven awards, including NACO (National Association of Counties)– which according to spokeswoman, Margaret McKinney, “these are the highest honors County government can receive”.
Barbara & Richard Cargill make their voices heard with a custom sign “NO MINING IN the ST VRAIN VALLEY, thanks to Don Lutter’s engineering. Pictured above with Jeff Bell (left to right).
Some members have followed suit– look for installed custom signs on HWY 66. If you have the space and want to order a custom sign, please contact us via our website.
Have you purchased / displayed your lawn sign? If  not, you can purchase them at The Purple Door in Hygiene, Redstone Liquors in Lyons, and soon at The Cheese Importers in Longmont, or order on our website. The signage campaign is a powerful way to express our community’s choice to preserve the St Vrain Valley and to exercise our community’s rights– freedom of speech and inalienable rights to a healthy environment. It is also intended to educate neighbors & visitors about this imminent mining threat that would otherwise go under the radar, and to affirm to the County that we stand united on this issue. It is a time-sensitive endeavor…and it’s impact is only as powerful as our strength as a community–more signs, more impact.  If you do not want mining in the St Vrain– say it loud, say it clear, & say it NOW.
If you missed the public hearing on the Flood Restoration before the Boulder County Commissioner’s on July 25th, 2017,  you could watch the lengthy proceedings (select July 25th hearing)– or read full presentation– here are the highlights:  SOSvv members introduced on public record, before the County Commissioners, Land Use Director, Dale Case, & BCPOS that there is an obvious conflict of interest in BCPOS and the District seeking permission and favors from Martin Marietta in Flood Restoration, while Martin Marietta is simultaneously asking the Director and Commissioners to approve the controversial permit SU 96-18. It seems improbable that Martin Marietta would altruistically grant such concessions to the County without expecting reciprocal & special consideration from the County Commissioners and Land Use Director.
Another highlight: Commissioner Jones offered to ban Martin Marietta from the open bid process for Restoration work due to obvious conflict of interest. That was quickly shut-down by the County’s attorney, Kathy Parker, in expected bureaucratic fashion. However, the Commissioners did pass a condition that if & when Martin Marietta and BCPOS arrive at an “agreement” for MMM to perform the 2013 Flood Restoration work, that a public hearing will be held, and we will be allowed to review and comment (instead of the plan being presented before the commissioners in a business meeting). *We will keep you posted on the date of such a hearing and hope that you will join us then.
On other news: Please look for our first ad in the next issue of the Boulder Weekly– Best of Boulder. A special thanks to our designer, Michael Robson, and to our anonymous donor that sponsored the ad. If you would like to sponsor our next ad, please contact us.

SOSvv Steering committee is meeting with CDOT and the County this morning. It was an SOSvv member that informed CDOT of Martin Marietta’s proposed mining operation and inherent traffic concerts, like up to 240 gondola trucks daily, one leave HWY66 every three minutes, and 6 trains daily through Hygiene and Longmont tracks.  The referrals to regulatory agencies, like CDOT went out when the permit was approved in 1998! Hence it has been our role to inform regulatory agencies as well. We will let you know what we learn in response to our questions. If you are on Facebook, please visit our page and “like” and share often. The latest news are posted on our page and website.

We hope to continue to raise awareness and expand our message to the whole of Boulder County, and need your help. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to SOSvv– no amount is too small. A special thanks to our donors that have stepped up with contributions towards our legal fund– There are many ways that you can help to Save Our St. Vrain Valley and protect our eagles from the comfort of your home.

Please endorse my letter response to Land Use Director addressing Martin Marietta’s response to five year inactivity.  Sierra Club has endorsed it and we are expecting other environmental group to join as well. This is a community initiative and your endorsement as residents and visitors to the area is integral. Simply reply to this email August 10th and let me know that you support our response and I will add your name to the undersigned citizens.

Sincerely,
Amanda Dumenigo
SOSVV, Chairperson

Endorse our Letter

Dale Case and Robert Haigh
Boulder County Land Use Department
2045  13th Street, P.O. Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306
August 12th, 2017
Re: Lapse of Martin Marietta gravel mining approvals, Ute Highway, Boulder County
Response to Mr. Mathews
Please include this letter in Docket SU 96-18.
*This is an amended version of my letter submitted to you on July 26th, 2017 as noted on said letter. In consideration of new information obtained in CORA documents, there are some additions to my original draft, specifically sections # 5, 6, 7, & 8.
Dear Mr. Dale Case,
On behalf of Save Our St Vrain Valley (“SOSvv”) and the undersigned citizens, we submit this comment letter responding to Martin Marietta’s July 12, 2017 letter to Boulder County Land Use Department titled “SU-96-18-Activity on Parcels Prevented Lapsing” submitted by its attorney, Mark Mathews of Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Schreck.
First, we want to thank you for providing SOSvv with Martin Marietta Material’s response to Land Use Department’s February 2017 request to furnish proof of continuous approved use, more specifically, that there has not been any continuous five-year lapse in the approved use. However, it is disconcerting that Martin Marietta Materials took six months to respond, and we have less-than a two-week window to evaluate their position and to submit a response for your consideration. That seems disproportionate and at a detriment to our community.
1. David Callahan’s previous representations do not amend the underlying written approvals.
Martin Marietta Materials, states in paragraph two of its July 12th, 2017 letter to Dale Case, that the County has confirmed that this permit has not lapsed based on Mr. David Callahan’s October 17th, 2006 letter to Mr. Steven Browne.  SOSvv members questioned Mr. Callahan’s authority as Operational Planning Manager to make changes to the Commissioner’s Resolution 98-32 in a face-to-face meeting in February with Commissioner, Elise Jones. SOSvv members asked you and Commissioner Jones to please provide documentation substantiating that Mr. Callahan had the authority to unilaterally alter and modify the 1998 Commissioners’ Resolution 98-32 without public notification or participation via public hearing. We have not received any such documentation from you or Commissioner Jones to date, and realize that may be because there’s no supporting documentation. We therefore question the validity of Land Use Dept. staff Planner, Ms. Abby Shannon’s conclusion as stated in her January 24th, 2017 letter to Mr. Summer Howard, that Mr. Callahan’s letter “remains in effect”. To the contrary, Mr. Callahan’s October 17, 2006 letter had no legal affect in amending or altering the underlying County approvals for this project.
David Callahan was an Operational Planning Manager for Land Use Department, not the Director for Land Use Department. Based on our research, Land Use Code mandates that substantial changes to a Special Use permit be made by the Director of Land Use. According to Article 4 of the Boulder County Land Use Code, 4-603 B states that “changes to express conditions or agreements”are considered substantial. Furthermore, Callahan states in said letter that “(he) has discussed this matter with…senior management…(and) can approve it administratively”. We disagree. Noticeably absent from his letter are any names or signatures of said senior management and the mention of or approval from the Director of Land Use at the time, Graham Billingsley.
In addition, the August 20th,1998 Resolution 98-32 by the Board of County Commissioners, states in clause #35 that “No later than January of 2003, the Applicant shall establish a community advisory committee which shall meet twice annually for the purpose of providing recommendations and feedback to the applicant, staff and the Board…”. In said letter, following the acquisition by Lafarge, Mr. Callahan waives Western Mobile’s violation / failure to establish an advisory committee (condition #35). Mr. Callahan also goes on to amend and cancel the condition in his letter: “The condition [#35] is henceforth meant to require that this committee must set up WITHIN a month prior to the commencement of mining”–a major change from “twice annually, starting no later than January 2003”. The dramatic change in timeframe also undermines and cancels the very function of this condition “…of providing recommendations and feedback to the applicant, staff and the Board…”  Callahan’s letter waives and cancels significant conditions of The Resolution 98-32 and the Development Agreement affecting SU 96-18 permit. He does so as Operational Planning Manager and evidently without any verifiable permission from the Commissioners, the Director of Land Use, a public hearing, or public comment. 
In consideration of said facts, the undersigned asks the Director specifically, to uphold the 1998 Commissioner’s Resolution and Land Use Code and not David Callahan’s 2006 letter; Changes to the Resolution made by Mr. Callahan in his 2006 letter pertaining to SU 96-18 permit do not appear to be substantiated by his position and to exceed his jurisdiction in overriding the Commissioner’s 1998 Resolution and the terms of the Development Agreement (as subsequently demonstrated).  It was this same Resolution 98-32 executed by the County Commissioner’s, that combined SU 69-476, SU 84-18 and SU 92-02 into SU 96-18. This Resolution must be upheld in it’s entirety in order to uphold it’s integrity. 
Mr. Mathews references the Development Agreement made on June 30th, 1999 between the Board of County Commissioners and Western Mobile, Inc (“The Developer”). The Development Agreement clearly states that “whereas, the Developer has submitted to the County a special use permit request to mine, process, and transport sand and gravel, which the County has approved in Land Use Docket SU-96-18 as set forth in County Resolution #98-32, adopted on August 20, 1998 which is attached to and incorporated into this agreement as Exhibit A…[and] whereas, the County and the Developer acknowledge and agree that the matter set forth herein are reasonable requirements for the County to impose as part of its approval of the Docket, and that such matters are *necessary to protect and promote the public health, safety, and welfare…therefore in consideration of the mutual covenants herein contained and the County’s approval of the Development as set forth in Exhibit A [Resolution 98-32] hereto, the Developer and the County agree as follows:The Development shall comply and be consistent with the terms, CONDITIONS, and commitments of record for the Docket, AS SET FORTH in Exhibit A [Resolution # 98-32]…[AND under #5 Amendment / Waiver section of the Development Agreement it clearly states:] “…any CANCELLATION, AMENDMENT, or WAIVER that represents a MATERIAL MODIFICATION of the County’s approval of the Development, as set forth in Exhibit A [Resolution #98-32] hereto, SHALL REQUIRE A PUBLIC HEARING AND approval according to applicable County Land Use Regulations. Hence waivers, cancellations and amendments, made by Mr. Callahan in his 2006 letter serving as a Land Use Dept. Operational Planning Manager should be viewed as a violation for reasons previously outlined under #5 Amendment / Waiver section of the Development Agreement as there was no public hearing or verifiable approval by the Director, Graham Billingsley or the County Commissioners.
2. Martin Marietta has violated the terms of previous approvals. We also believe that the County approvals for this project are void due to a breach of the County approvals by Martin Marietta and/or its predecessors. As noted above, under the terms of the previous approvals, Martin Marietta or its predecessor(s) was mandated to create a community advisory committee and conduct regular meetings. Martin Marietta and its predecessor(s) violated this provision by failing to create and maintain the community advisory committee. As such, they have violated the express provisions of the approvals, which render them void.
Also, The Commissioners’ Resolution states in 7B that “Special interim reviews will be conducted five years prior to the commencement of mining of Phase II and Phase III to determine whether the terms and conditions of approval are sufficient or require amendments. In the course of these reviews, which shall be conducted as duly-noticed public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board, new conditions of approval may be imposed and original conditions may be modified, reduced or waived to accommodate changing technology, knowledge of new health concerns, or other new information not available at the time of this approval”. No interim reviews have been conducted to date. If the Director is to uphold the Commissioner’s mandate as stated in the Resolution 98-32 AND The Development Agreement of June 6th, 1999, that prevents Martin Marietta Materials from commencing mining Phase II until five years after the first interim review is conducted.  
3. The Sierra Club court decision has no precedential effect on the facts of this case. The question before the Director is whether the previous approvals have lapsed due to a five-year period of inactivity of the approved use. As such, this issue is largely a fact-based inquiry. The “approved use” in this case is “gravel mining”. Thus, the Director should limit his inquiry into whether there has been a five-year period of inactive gravel mining since issuance of the 1998 County approval(s). Thus, much of the “evidence” relied upon by Martin Marietta (i.e., filing annual reports, maintaining bond, paying annual fees) are immaterial to whether the “use” (gravel mining) has lapsed.
As an initial matter, we do not believe that Martin Marietta’s July 12, 2017 letter produces any actual evidence to support its claim that the approvals have not lapsed. Instead, the letter simply attaches a self-serving timeline as Appendix B. Martin Marietta fails to attach any supporting evidence for the summary timeline found in Appendix B. A proffer of evidence is not the same as the actual evidence itself, which is necessary to support a factual finding. Without the actual supporting evidence proving the claims in Appendix B, it would be arbitrary and capricious for the Director to accept Martin Marietta’s “proof of activity”. Having failed to produce supporting evidence, the Director must find that the County’s previous approvals have lapsed. 
The July 12, 2017 letter also references as precedent the decision in Sierra Club v. Billingsley (CO App 2007) and states that it “supports…[Martin Marietta Material’s] conclusion that the Permit [SU-96-18] has not lapsed due to inactivity.”  To be clear, the final decision in Sierra Club vs. Billingsley made by the Courts of Appeals, was upheld because Land Use Code could not be enforced retroactively, and NOT in any way excusing or overlooking a five year lapse in approved “use” activity for a Special Use permit. The ruling upholds and substantiates the significance of a five year lapse in activity, as is at issue in this case. Graham Billingsley, in his official capacity as Director of the Boulder County Land Use Department, addressed whether Article 4-604 was intended to apply to permits and gave the following testimony at the November 6, 2002 hearing before the BOA:
In 1996, the County passed amendments to the special use regulations of the Land Use Code providing for the lapse of special use permits. [T]his is a quote from the regulations: ‘[if there is] NO activity under *ANY portion of the special use permit for a continuous period of five years or [Applying 4-604(C)]…it is *inappropriate to retroactively apply a provision of the Land Use Code that was activated, or implemented, under a permit *approved prior to the lapsed provision coming into effect…Since 4-604 does not state that it applies to permits prior to its enactment[;] this rule of construction in Article [1-900] requires that we cannot apply the lapsed provision, retroactively to Cemex…”
*Chronologically and logistically, the 1996 provision of the Land Use Code was promulgated before the 1998 SU 96-18 permit application. Hence, the 4-604 rule of construction in Article [1-900] does apply to all subsequent Special Use permits, and supports our conclusion that there has been a lapse in continuous activity and that there has been no approved “use” activity under portion(s) of SU 96-18. Preliminary analysis of the Activity Log submitted by Mr. Mathews’ on behalf of Martin Marietta, appears to demonstrate well over five year lapse in continuous mining activity under the permit between 2002-2017. 
In addition, the legal issue before the Director is whether Martin Marietta (or its predecessor(s)) failed to comply with ANY provision of the previous approvals, thus resulting in a breach and rendering the previous approvals void. We ask that the Director to address this issue in its final determination. 
In the event the Director allows Martin Marietta to produce the evidence supporting its claims in Appendix B, the undersigned ask that all such evidence be produced to SOSvv, and that we are allowed a minimum of 30 days to review and comment on the evidence.
4. Martin Marietta did not commence gravel mining under the 1998 County approvals within 5 years of issuance.
The County issued its approval(s) for gravel mining to Martin Marietta’s predecessor in 1998. In Appendix B of the July 12, 2017 letter, Martin Marietta claims, without producing any supporting evidence, that gravel mining was commenced under these approvals in 1998-2001 (“Mining Miller Pit. This included extraction and sale of sand and gravel material allowed by Special Review permit.”). Martin Marietta makes no claim of any other gravel mining during the five-year period beginning on 1998. We disagree that the mining conducted during this time period was “commenced” under the 1998 County approvals. Instead, it appears that mining the Miller pit commenced prior to 1998 and any mining occurring between 1998-2003, if any, was a continuation of a previously approved mining project. For example, the “permit” referenced in Appendix B next to the Miller pit “activity” is State of Colorado permit “DRMS-M-1982-034”. This is clearly a state-issued permit that approved the gravel mining as far back as 1982. Thus, the gravel mining (“use”) appears to have commenced well before 1998 and was simply a continuation of that activity after the County’s 1998 approvals. The July 12, 2017 letter fails to point to any new gravel mining commenced within 5 years or at all after the County’s approval(s).
5. There has been a 16 year period of inactivity since at least 2001 that have lapsed the approvals.
In addition to the initial 5-year commencement period, there has also been a 16 year period of inactivity of the “use” since 1998. For example, since 2001, Appendix B fails to claim that any “extraction and sale of sand and gravel” has occurred on any of the properties subject to the County’s 1998 approval(s). This 16 year period of inactivity of the “use” clearly satisfies the requirements for lapse of all County approvals. In a recent letter dated June 27th, 2017 addressed to Mr. Drue DeBerry, Colorado and Nebraska Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/ Ecological Services, Eric Lane, Director, Boulder County Parks and Open Space, affirms our position that this permit has lapsed due to more than five years of consecutive inactivity in the following statement: “Martin Marietta has initiated a review of the Special Use Permit with the Boulder County Land Use Department as a step toward potentially mobilizing the mining operation since none of the mining activity permitted in 1998 has yet to begin” (attached). The Land Use Department invited BCPOS to participate in the permit review process earlier this year, and BCPOS owns the surface ownership of this land (to which Martin Marietta has acquired the subsurface ownership interests), hence BCPOS Director, Eric Lane’s statement that none of the mining activity permitted in 1998 has begun confirms our position that Martin Marietta’s and/or its predecessor’s had NO activity under ANY portion of the special use permit for a continuous period of five years [Applying 4-604(C)] and thus, the County’s approvals have also lapsed by Martin Marietta’s &/or it’s Predecessor’s continuous lapse(s) in activity.As such, the Director must conclude that the “approved use” did lapse for a period of 16 years (over 3 times the required length of inactivity) and thus all County approvals are void and of no legal effect.
6. The approvals must be completely reassessed in light of the 2013 flood.
In September 2013, the St. Vrain River experienced the most devastating flood ever documented.  A wall of water flowed down the mountains lifting houses off their foundations, destroying riparian habitat, causing above ground gasoline tanks to bob in the water, breaching man-made ponds, and contributing at least four fatalities. More than 1,600 people were evacuated, 1,200 homes destroyed and damaged, and 900 square miles impacted by flooding.  *This destruction was aggravated by the man-made changes to the watershed that preceded the flood event. For example, the watershed was dramatically altered by previous gravel and other mining activities immediately adjacent to the St. Vrain. The earlier gravel mines failed to reclaim the land and instead left behind numerous ponds that added to the floodwaters when they were breached by the mighty river, thus exacerbating the destruction. In its current webpage regarding flood resiliency, the Boulder County Commissioners offer the following statement:
“Local governments such as Boulder County have a responsibility to regulate development in the floodplain or else we may jeopardize the ability for everyone in our jurisdiction to obtain flood insurance. Boulder County is taking a thoughtful and cautious approach to rebuilding. We need to understand the long-term implications of decisions we make today and how they will impact and inform the outcome of the next disaster. The county is working diligently to assess the future hazards and make informed decisions that will provide the base for further activities in recovery. People’s lives have been turned upside-down by this event. Boulder County is working with the community to balance the need to rebuild with the need to plan wisely for the next natural disaster.”
When it comes to major construction projects in the watershed, the 2013 flood changes everything. Or at least it should. Unfortunately, we see little evidence that the County is “regulating [this] development in the floodplain”, “is taking a thoughtful and cautious approach to rebuilding”, or “understands the long-term implications of decisions we make today and how they will impact and inform the outcome of the next disaster.” Instead, the County appears to be proceeding as though the flood never happened by approving this project for mining on over 800 acres of agricultural land, all of which was in the 2013 floodplain. The 2013 flood restoration work isn’t even complete in the watershed and the County appears poised to approve a massive mining project similar to previous ones that exacerbated the destruction of the watershed–even causing flooding in areas in Longmont outside the floodplain.
Irrespective of how the County rules on the present “lapse” issue, the County should use its inherent public health, common sense, and safety powers to completely re-examine all approvals associated with this mining project. Simply put, it is not 1998 any more. Thus, the County may not rely on decades-old approvals as though the flood never occurred. The project proposes more ground disturbance, more ponded water, more impacts to riparian and wetland habitat—all of which would exacerbate future flooding events. There have been floods in this valley for thousands of years and there will be more. The County must scientifically assess how this project will impact future flood events and whether such a project should be allowed to proceed in light of the knowledge we now possess. We urge the County to use caution and common sense and to re-assess all approvals for this project in light of the 2013 flood. The lives of the citizens living in the St. Vrain Valley depend upon it.
The Boulder County Comprehensive Plan (BCCP) addresses various land use issues, and includes information relevant to this proposed mining project. Links to the numerous maps in the plan are also provided on the BCCP website. I’d like to remind the Director that The BCCP   Geologic Hazard and Constraint Areas Map designates the majority of the proposed mining area as a Moderate Hazard Area. “Geologic Hazard Area,” with a “Moderate” risk of flooding. The Geology Element of the plan states, “Moderate Hazard Area shall mean that area, or those areas, as shown on the Geologic Hazards and Constraint Areas Map where geologic conditions are such that *significant geotechnical problems exist and there is provisional risk related to intensive land uses” (Geology [GE] – Page 1). Notably, GE 1.02 states: “The county shall discourage intensive uses in Moderate Hazard Areas.”
7. In additions, we would like to address the issue of the Flood Restoration Projects.LU-17-0014 Boulder County Parks and Open Space- Lake 4 Repairs and LU-17-0011 BCPOS St Vrain Creek Reach 3 Restoration for the record. On June 26th, 2017, we asked the County to answer questions regarding Martin Marietta Material’s involvement in the proposed flood restoration plan. We received a response from Boulder County Staff Planner: Christian Martin (attached). Mr. Martin states in #4 that “Any approvals and/or permits for gravel mining / processing that Martin Marietta is seeking are separate from and independent of this recovery project….[and in #7] The relationship instead is coincidently with the permit owner, Martin Marietta owns property in the area and with permission can provide significant cost savings to Boulder County and the district:
•BCPOS is seeking permission from Martin Marietta to use their access road from HYW 66 for construction and hauling access…
•BCPOS is also seeking permission from Martin Marietta to use an area north of Lake 3 for construction staging, refueling and storage…
BCPOS is seeking Martin Marietta’s permission to place Excess Fill within the Lake 3 area…
   …and [#10 If Martin Marietta agrees to allowing the Excess Fill to be placed in Lake 3 area, possibly saving the County and the District $6,000,000, as described in answer #1…”
There appears to be a direct conflict of interest: BCPOS and the District are seeking permission and favors from Martin Marietta; Land Use Director and County Commissioners are being asked by Martin Marietta to approve an extremely controversial permit, in a Moderate Hazard Area (that was hit by a historic natural disaster and is yet to be restored, four years later); and the community asks the Director and the Commissioners to rule impartially in order to protect their constituents by upholding ALL of the Conditions in the Commissioner’s Resolution 98-35 and in The Development Agreement. 
 It seems improbable that Martin Marietta would altruistically grant such concessions to BCPOS without expecting reciprocity and special consideration in their concurrent SU 96-18 permit application and the contingency may be that they be allowed to mine the area. The County also appears to be convinced of the financial savings, $6,000,000, before the open bid process has even begun. SOSvv urges the Director and BCPOS to consider the inherent implications while negotiating an agreement with Martin Marietta. While it is understandable that BCPOS is focusing on the immediate, possible cost saving by using Martin Marietta as the contractor to do the restoration, there are hidden costs for the County in using Martin Marietta, including compromising the Director’s and the Commissioners’ ability to be objective in evaluate the particulars of SU 96-18 permit.
8. Finally, this mining operation threatens the Federally Protected, Endangered Preble’s Mouse and its high density habitat on Martin Marietta’s proposed mining area(s) and flood Restoration areas. According to Tim Shaffer, Wild Life Biologist with BCPOS studying Preble’s on County properties, in a September 19th, 2014 email (attached), “Based on the habitat requirements and basic biology of this species, the entire reach of the St Vrain Creek on both the Western & Golden Fredstrom properties, as well as the entire reach of the South Branch ditch on the Western Mobile property, are considered occupied Preble’s habitat. Preble’s were captured on each of these stream reaches both pre and post floods. Mr. Shaffer documents studies conducted following the US Fish & Wildlife Service survey protocol, on Golden-Fredstrom Property (M-2001-016) on July 14, 2014:
“Preble’s were captured along St Vrain Creek, with evidence of breeding population (multiple age classes and reproductive females)”. And in survey done trapping approximately 1,200 meters of riparian habitat, spanning almost the entire length pf the POS property, at the Western Mobile Property / Lyons Pit (M-1977-015), on June 23, 2014 in the St Vrain Creek and on July 21st, 2014 on the South Branch Ditch, “Preble’s were captured on both the St Vrain Creek and the South Branch Ditch with evidence of breeding population (multiple age classes and reproductive females)”. On December 2010, The Fish and Wildlife Service revised the critical habitat designation for the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse (PMJM) “designating approximately 411 miles of rivers and streams and 34,935 acres of streamside habitat in seven Colorado counties. This revision to the Service’s previous critical habitat designation add[ed] an additional 177 miles of rivers and streams and 14,255 acres of adjacent habitat. Areas designated as critical habitat for the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse in Boulder…include riparian corridors along rivers and streams, adjacent uplands, and areas that provide connectivity between and within populations…*The primary constituent elements for the Preble’s include those habitat components essential for the biological needs of reproducing, rearing of young, foraging, sheltering, hibernation, dispersal, and genetic exchange.  The PMJM is able to live and reproduce in and near riparian areas located within grassland, shrub land, forest, and mixed vegetation types where dense herbaceous or woody vegetation occurs near the ground level, where available open water exists during their active season, and where there are ample upland habitats of sufficient width and quality for foraging, hibernation, and refuge from catastrophic flooding events.” according to US Fish & Wildlife (https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/preble/CRITICAL%20HABITAT/CRITICALHABITATindex.htm).
BCPOS Director, Mr. Eric Lane on his June 27th letter to US Fish & Wildlife, also affirms that “Of particular value and concern to…[BCPOS] is habitat of Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse present in the project area. This project area contains invaluable habitat for the mouse, and our trapping studies over the past three years have shown that its comparative importance in the broader landscape context is highly significant. We have documented 154 unique individual mice (PIT tagging methods) located in the area (St. Vrain corridor and the South Branch of the St. Vrain). In comparison, trapping within federally designated critical habitat for the mouse in Boulder County (South Boulder Creek) resulted in very few individuals, as well as *no trapping success within the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge. We believe that *the population along the St. Vrain is of increasing importance in a population dynamic context. While we are aware of, and have reviewed the 2001 Biological Opinion (ES/GJ-6-CO-01-F-045) associated with this project, some of the mitigation measures are difficult to interpret sixteen years later. We also feel that on the ground *conditions have changed with the passage of time, implementation of some measures by the operator, changes in the ownership and the proposed mining footprint, and lasting effects of the 2013 flood such that a review of the 2001 Biological Opinion by USFWS as part of the overall permit review process is also warranted.” Eric Lane, Director, BCPOS.
In conclusion and in consideration of said facts, the undersigned asks the Director specifically to determine that there has been a breach as noted (#2 above), decades-long-lapse in activity of approved use “mining” (#5 above); and there have been significant changes in conditions since issuance of the 1998 County approval(s) (as noted in #6 & #7: namely the 2013 Floods, the proliferation of the Federally protected and Endangered Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse in the proposed mining areas and the thereat to the high profile, Federally protected Hygiene bald eagles and its prairie dog colony also on the proposed mining area). A new permit application is clearly warranted and all approvals associated with this mining project need to be completely re-examined.
Respectfully,
Amanda Dumenigo, Chairperson, S.O.S.V.V.
Kirk Cunningham, Indian Peaks Group of Sierra Club, Don Lutter, Michael Robson, Wendy Kahn, Richard Cargill, Barbara Cargill, Ric Breese, William Berg, Claudia Berg, James Scherrer, Elaine Paul, Tom Knorr

2013 Flood Restoration Update Public Hearing July 25th, 2017

If you missed the public hearing on the Flood Restoration before the Boulder County Commissioner’s on July 25th, 2017,  you could watch the lengthy proceedings (select July 25th hearing)– or read my presentation below– or here are the highlights:  SOSvv members introduced on public record, before the County Commissioners, Land Use Director, Dale Case, & BCPOS that there is an obvious conflict of interest in BCPOS and the District seeking permission and favors from Martin Marietta in lake 4 Restoration, while Martin Marietta is simultaneously asking the Director and Commissioners to approve the controversial permit SU 96-18. It seems improbable that Martin Marietta would altruistically grant such concessions to the County without expecting reciprocal & special consideration from the County Commissioners and Land Use Director.
Another highlight: Commissioner Jones offered to ban Martin Marietta from the open bid process for Restoration work due to obvious conflict of interest. That was quickly shut-down by the County’s attorney, Kathy Parker, in expected bureaucratic fashion. However, the Commissioners did pass a condition that if & when Martin Marietta and BCPOS arrive at an “agreement” for MMM to perform the restoration work in Lake 4, that a public hearing will be held, and we will be allowed to review and comment, instead of the plan being presented before the commissioners in a business meeting. We will keep you posted on the date of such a hearing and hope that you will join us then.

Presentation 7/25/2-17:
My name is Amanda Dumenigo and I live in unincorporated Boulder County in the Hygiene municipality. I am also Chairperson of SOSvv, Save Our St Vrain valley and speak on behalf of our members before the Commissioners today.

[re: the Flood Restoration Projects.LU-17-0014 Boulder County Parks and Open Space- Lake 4 Repairs and LU-17-0011 BCPOS St Vrain Creek Reach 3 Restoration].

On June 26th, 2017, SOSvv asked the County to answer questions regarding Martin Marietta Material’s involvement in the proposed flood restoration plan. We received a response from Boulder County Staff Planner: Christian Martin (attached). Mr. Martin states in #4 states that “Any approvals and/or permits for gravel mining / processing that Martin Marietta is seeking for Special Use Permit 96-18, which involves much of the acreage in this restoration plan, are separate from and independent of this recovery project….[and in #7] The relationship between the County and the permit owner, Martin Marietta Materials, is coincidental as MMM owns property in the area and with permission can provide significant cost savings, an estimated 6 million $$$ to Boulder County and the district. “ In an effort to GREATLY reduce costs of the project and therefore reduce the financial burden to the County and the St Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District the proposal includes disposing of debris in the neighboring lake 3 because this is a host haul distance, a very economical location potentially reducing cost by 6 mill $$ & # 3 “…to limit impact to natural resources
More Specifically, Mr Martin affirms in his response that:
-BCPOS is seeking permission from MMM to use their access road from HYW 66 for construction and hauling access…& Proposes to establish a route via MM existing access rd to hwy 66 then south on 63rd / 61st
BCPOS is also seeking permission from MMM to use an area north of Lake 3 for construction staging, refueling and storage…
BCPOS is seeking MMM permission to place Excess Fill within the Lake 3 area…
…and [#10″ If Martin Marietta agrees to allowing the Excess Fill to be placed in Lake 3 area, possibly saving the County and the District $6,000,000, projected saving”– as emphasized in the first and final answer #1 & 10.
So, emphasis from Land Use insofar as the restoration plan is conserved, focuses on an immediate projected cost saving of $ 6 millions by electing MM to do the restoration work. It seems to completely overlook long-term and hidden costs inherent in the County having MMM do the restoration work, and that there is a conflict of interest.

Taking the restoration project in context– There appears to be an obvious conflict of interest. BCPOS and the District are seeking permission and favors from Martin Marietta while simultaneously being asked by Martin Marietta to approve controversial permits SU 96-18. It seems improbable that Martin Marietta would altruistically grant such concessions to the County without expecting reciprocal & special consideration from the County Commissioners and Land Use Director in their controversial SU 96-18 currently undergoing the approval process.

In September 2013, the St. Vrain River experienced the most devastating flood ever documented. A wall of water flowed down the mountains lifting houses off their foundations, destroying riparian habitat, causing above ground gasoline tanks to bob in the water, breaching man-made ponds, and contributing at least four fatalities. More than 1,600 people were evacuated, 1,200 homes destroyed and damaged, and 900 square miles impacted by flooding. This destruction was aggravated by the man-made changes to the watershed that preceded the flood event. For example, the watershed was dramatically altered by previous gravel and other mining activities immediately adjacent to the St. Vrain. The earlier gravel mines failed to reclaim the land and instead left behind numerous ponds that added to the floodwaters when they were breached by the St Vrain river, thus exacerbating the destruction– some of these ponds even caused flooding in areas of Longmont outside the floodplain. Pella Crossing just cost tax payers 3 million dollars in restoration. None of the previously mined ponds in the greater Hygiene area have not been reclaimed properly or restored post flood–.

I’d like to remind the Commissioners that The BCCP Geologic Hazard and Constraint Areas Map designates the majority of the SU permit 96-18 proposed mining area as a Moderate Hazard Area. “Geologic Hazard Area,” with a “Moderate” risk of flooding. The Geology Element of the plan states, “Moderate Hazard Area shall mean that area, or those areas…where geologic conditions are such that significant geotechnical problems exist and there is provisional risk related to intensive land uses” (Geology [GE] – Page 1). Notably, GE 1.02 states: “The county shall discourage intensive uses in Moderate Hazard Areas.” Due to the fact according to Mr Martin’s letter that we are in the 100 yr floodplain.

When it comes to major construction projects in the watershed, the 2013 flood changes everything. Or at least it should. The County appears to be proceeding as though the flood never happened, as evidenced by its reactivation of SU 96-18 in a business meeting with MMM and approval of the building site plan in January 2017 and its entertaining converting ~640 acres of agricultural land (according to Land Use’s classification that hasn’t recovered or been restored or reclaimed) to an intensive gravel mining operation, all of which was in the 2013 floodplain. The 2013 flood restoration work isn’t even complete in the watershed and the County appears poised to approve a massive mining project similar to previous ones that added to the destruction of the watershed–even causing flooding in areas in Longmont outside the floodplain; this would be adding insult to injury, the brunt of which would be endured by the residents and inhabitants of the area at a hidden cost total payers.

BCPOS is focusing on the immediate cost saving by using MMM to do the restoration. It seems that BCPOS enlisting the help of MMM may seem like a cost savings but it may be very expensive– costing Land Use Dept and the Commissioners the freedom to objectively evaluate the particulars of SU 96-18 permit (for instance the obvious violations to the Resolution 98-35– specifically the 5 year lapse in activity and the failure to establish a Citizen’s advisory committee 5 yrs prior to mining Phase II). But also the expense of the Commissioner’s violating it’s own motto regarding flood restoration as stated in its current webpage regarding flood resiliency, the Boulder County Commissioners offer the following statement:

“Local governments such as Boulder County have a responsibility to regulate development in the floodplain or else we may jeopardize the ability for everyone in our jurisdiction to obtain flood insurance. Boulder County is taking a thoughtful and cautious approach to rebuilding. We need to understand the long-term implications of decisions we make today and how they will impact and inform the outcome of the next disaster. The county is working diligently to assess the future hazards and make informed decisions that will provide the base for further activities in recovery. People’s lives have been turned upside-down by this event. Boulder County is working with the community to balance the need to rebuild with the need to plan wisely for the next natural disaster”.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

BLAST FROM THE PASTt: Remember that cliche about History? George Santayana’s in its original form, it read: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’? Perhaps you knew this bit.. I admittedly did not. I find it fascinating and horrific, and that history validates & necessitates our effort and the fight to Save Our St Vrain Valley. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now broadcasted live from the studios of Free Speech TV in Boulder, Colorado, eight miles south of the former plutonium-processing Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, next to that is The Rocky Mountain Arsenal–a former chemical weapons plant where deadly sarin, mustard gas and napalm were manufactured. Goodman interviewed Colorado University professor, Len Ackland, about the former plutonium-processing Rocky Flats nuclear bomb making plant. Ackland is author of the book “Making A Real Killing: Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West” that examines the four-decade history of Rocky Flats; Wes McKinley, a Colorado rancher and the foreman of the Grand Jury that investigated activity at Rocky Flats. He is co-author of “Ambushed Grand Jury: How the Justice Department Covered Up Government Nuclear Crimes and How We Caught Them Red-handed”; and Adrienne Anderson, Professor of Environmental and Ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
–ANDERSON: ” Dean Singleton, who is the head of the media news group here, in our investigation is part of the problem, part of the deal. And the deal was that the polluters paid into a common fund secretly and the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, our two major newspapers here both had dumped toxic waste at Lowry Landfill as well… they had dumped printing inks and solvents and sometimes those can contain PCB’s. They dumped a relatively small amount given what Coor’s dumped, who was the top polluter at the site, and other companies–including Martin Marietta from the Titan Missile factory here, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal dumped waste at Lowry Landfill and trucking records showed that Rocky Flats for years took waste out there as well — unidentified waste”. In 1997 Anderson filed a federal whistleblower case on a plan to mix plutonium waste with sewer sludge, process it into fertilizer and then use on American farms. She currently works with farmers and unions to stop practices like this taking place around the country today.”

MMM mine

 

The moral of the story, Margaret Mead’s dictum: never doubt for a moment that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. It’s also a call to action– please help us raise awareness– share the info, display a lawn sign, donate, write the email(s)– these are all things that you can do from home while being committed to helping us change the tide in Boulder County on environmental, health, & community threats.

-The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.