Update from Amanda Dumenigo, SOSvv Chair

It was so inspiring to connect with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now & Maeve Conran, News Director KGNU at the KGNU 40th Anniversary celebration on September 15th. Thank you Don Lutter for sponsoring SOSVV’s seat at the table! Amy’s moving speech focused on Standing Rock– and we had the opportunity to talk with Amy about our own local struggle against extraction and conflicting with our community’s rights and rights of nature; our concerns for the St Vrain River and for the valuable archeology, including burial grounds and the westernmost plains’ pottery found in the project area.

I met Maeve Conran at the KGNU Boulder studio the following Monday morning. Tune in to Morning Magazine to hear about SOSVV’s next steps, archeology developments, and next Thursday’s Benefit Concert at Planet Bluegrass with Jayme Stone, RapidGrass. You can listen to the interview here.

Scroll down for details on the concert and breaking news on the District Court’s ruling against Martin Marietta Materials–another local victory for the “little” guy.

Hope to see you next Thursday evening.

Cheers,
Amanda Dumenigo
Chairperson, SOSVV

Save Our St. Vrain Valley Benefit Concert

Don’t miss this unforgettable Fall musical event, featuring the Summer 2018 festivals headliners and internationally acclaimed, award-winning acts: Jayme Stone, dubbed the “Yo-Yo Ma of the banjo,” bridges the traditions of folk, jazz, and chamber music & Rapidgrass, blending classical, gypsy, bluegrass, pop, swing, and other world rhythms. Both bands push the boundaries of conventional bluegrass through contemporary innovation.

Grammy Award winning Lakota singers, Doug Good Feather and Charlie Red Cloud will perform the opening and closing prayer songs–highlighting the valuable archeology and the existing Native American ceremonial land uses in and surrounding the proposed 640+ acres mining project in the pristine St Vrain Valley.

It’s sure to be an unforgettable evening of world-class music in one of the most beautiful, intimate music venues in Boulder County–Planet Bluegrass.

Doors open at 5:30 PM. Children 12 & under are free. Tickets are $45 (& tax deductible). Get yours NOW here

DENVER 7 NEWS reports Martin Marietta Material’s July 2018 subpoena was denied by District Court Judge as a blatant violation of First Amendment rights.

“Martin Marietta, a multi-billion-dollar company that supplies construction materials to oil and gas, slapped activists with subpoenas back in July…” immediately following Paula Oransky’s wrongful termination lawsuit against MMM in the Fall 2017. Ms Oransky was reportedly fired by MMM for speaking out at a community forum for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation’s new drilling operations, held five months after Anadarko’s explosion killed two members and injured other members of the Martinez family. MMM filled subpoenas for all communications with Ms Oransky and six citizens, including 2018 mid-term election County Commissioner candidate, Cliff Willmeng, an unwavering and vocal advocate of community rights & rights of nature. MMM asked that they turn over all communications related to 2017 demonstration against Anadarko– “Wether you’re for against oil & gas, this is a story about first amendment rights…if produced the records would have a chilling effect” says journalist, Jennifer Kovaleski. Attorney Andy McNutty notes that this is a David & Goliath story, where the ‘little guy’ won andthat “it sends a big message to big corporations trying to use litigation and power to silence critics”.

Paula Oransky’s lawsuit against MMM is pending. SOSVV is pending a District Court date for our legal suit against MMM and Land Use’s ruling on Special Use Mining Permit 96-18. Watch the Denver 7 News report.

Attempt by Colorado company to silence critics ends in big win for oil and gas activist

See more at THEDENVERCHANNEL.COM

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Letter from Amanda Dumenigo to Eric Lane, Boulder County Parks and Open Space Director

Dear Mr Lane,

Please find attached a formal request from Oglala Lakota Chief, Marty Chase Alone. Your staff knows Mr Chase Alone as BCPOS has coordinated for Mr. Chase Alone to lead lodges on Cemex property. He has led monthly Ceremonial lodges directly across from Phase II of the project area since August 2017. Currently, Doug Good Feather  Sundance Chief, Lakota Spiritual Leader, also holds weekly ceremonies across from Phase II of the project area. (I hope you take 2 min. of your time to listen to Good Feather’s interview by Josh Fox on Rolling Stone Magazine, hyperlinked to his name previously). You should have received Mr Good Feather’s letter and my last email with his formal request (attached). The archeology in the project area pertaining to SU 96-18 has multiple sites that were recommended for further studies and registration with the National Registry of Historic Places, NRHP,  and as highlighted for you in my archeology letter, the burden responsibility is with land owners, BCPOS & Martin Marietta Materials, have neglected  to follow any of the recommendations made decades ago by the project Historians and Archeologist.

Please reply to this email with BCPOS’ and Martin Marietta Material’s current plans for adhering to or continuing to disregard the Historians and Archeologist’s recommendations for this project area, the formal requests made by recognized Lakota Chiefs, and SOSVV members (attached).

Also, please inform me of the status of your request to US Fish & Wildlife in your letter dated June 27, 2017 for a reevaluation of  the 2001 Biological Opinion (ES/GJ-6-CO-01-F-045)? Have you met with US Fish & Wildlife and has a new study been conducted or scheduled (when)?

In conclusion, “The remaining remnants of archeology for the survey area are both regrettable in their loss since the beginning of historical development in the area and the “‘significance’” of what is left remaining intact. As archeological resources become increasingly fewer due to their loss by development, erosion, etc. what remains, becomes even more significant when considering their long term conservation….Additional excavations conducted at prehistoric sites….have the potential to yield buried information significant to providing information regarding, but not limited to, chronological placement, function, and intra-site patterning” (Evaluation of Research Pg. 28).

The St Vrain Valley is still a sacred place for Native American ceremonies and it is is not a relic of the past. Hence, protecting the ancestral integrity and archeological history in this valley is of timely and critical concern of utmost significance.

Sincerely,
Amanda Dumenigo, Chairperson, SOSVV

An open letter from community member Carol Plain

Oil and gas usually take center stage when it comes to battles over mining in the West, but gravel has become the new enemy in Colorado’s St. Vrain Valley. Martin Marietta Materials, a company with operations throughout the U.S. and Canada, is planning to mine for gravel in Hygiene between Lyons and Longmont. The proposed operation would cause massive increases in water contamination, air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution and traffic (trucks and trains). The air and noise pollution from this mine would be devastating.
Boulder County includes parts of Rocky Mountain National Park, which set an attendance record with 4.5 million visitors in 2016. And last year’s visitation number spiked an 8.68 percent increase over the previous annual record set in 2015, itself a 32 percent increase over 2014, and a 40 percent increase since 2012. The current permit allows for one truck every three minutes and three trains a day. Traffic to the park will be significantly impacted, as will the air quality and the pastoral views. The experience of heading into the mountains will become vastly more industrial, potentially discouraging visitors.
There’s also worry about dangerous crystalline silica dust. The St. Vrain Valley can be extremely windy, which makes it impossible to control fugitive dust events and airborne toxins from a mining operation which will in turn poison local wildlife and residents.
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. I heard the roar of the river and watched it destroy ponds that were left from old mining operations in the area. 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.
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 Colo. 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, but more mining will devastate the area- leaving wildlife and residents without clean drinkable water and poison in the air for many years to come.
Martin Marietta Materials’ intention to mine more than 400 acres in the St. Vrain floodplain.
Proposed gravel mining operations by Martin Marietta in the St. Vrain Valley between Lyons and Hygiene have serious groundwater ramifications for the residents of the valley.
35-acre parcels of land may be open-pit mined for aggregate in the special-use permit mining area between Hygiene Road and Colorado 66. Approximately 20 percent of the valley will be converted from forage land to gravel-pit mining operations. During the 10-year mining operation (there are 10 years left on the 30-year 1998 special-use permit) the groundwater will be drawn down around the mining pits in order to provide for dry-pit mining. Surface mines of 30 acres will necessitate massive dewatering around the pits to allow for heavy equipment to remove the gravel in a dry environment.
The mining pits may be as deep as 30 feet, which will mean that the water table in the area of the pits will have to be lowered more than 30 feet. Since the proposed mining operation is within the St. Vrain aquifer, groundwater will have to be pumped from the aquifer and diverted around the mining pits with the area of influence of the dewatering drawdown greatly exceeding the surface area of the gravel pits. Many of the residents and agricultural operations in the St. Vrain Valley depend on the aquifer for potable water for their homes, garden irrigation, agriculture, and stock watering.
During the possible 10-year mining operations, the residents of the St. Vrain Valley will have to seek other sources of potable water for their homes, gardens, agriculture, and livestock. When Lafarge was mining gravel in the valley several years ago, artesian springs dried up as well as shallow wells. Options for providing potable water to those affected by the water drawdown during previous gravel-mining operations included trucked-in water, a pipeline to Longmont to access city of Longmont water, or deep wells.
Trucked-in water requires that each homeowner has to have adequate water storage facilities to contain several days’ water use. A pipeline to Longmont will require homeowners to purchase Longmont city water at ever-increasing rates where now they pay only for the electricity for their well pumps. Deep wells miss the sweet water of the St. Vrain aquifer and the water requires substantial treatment before it can be used as potable household water. Irrigation with deep-well water is not advised as per water sample analysis by Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Deep-well water approaches the maximum limit of dissolved solids allowed for livestock water.
Please help bring this issue to light and help us stop this mine from killing the local wildlife, residents and environment.

Best Regards,
Carol Plain

BOA Hearing Update

From SOSvv Chair Amanda Dumenigo:
The Board of Adjustment, BOA, did not overturn Land Use’s lapse in judgment regarding SU Permit 96-18. They failed to uphold the Five-Year Lapse Provision–ironically, yesterday was literally the 22 year anniversary to the day of Boulder County Commissioners’ first meeting to promulgate the five-year lapse provision stipulation in the Land Use Code. IT HAS NEVER BEEN UPHELD! We persuaded 3 of the 5 judges to agree to overturn the Director’s decision. Unfortunately, Boulder County Board of Adjustment has higher criteria than the US Supreme Court, and it is not majority rule. We won the popular vote not the electoral. Perhaps you’ve seen this before? We lost the battle, but we will win the war. The system is rigged and we will help fix it. We need your support more than ever. Please donate to our legal fund

Thank you to all the brave folks who showed up and stood by us! The room was packed! The public comment was powerful. 3 of the 5 judges vehemently advocated for truth, logic, and the community. Eric Moutz & Kari Stoltzfus: Thank you not only for having the courage to stand up for the law and the truth, but for all the valid points that you brought up.
 
Amanda Dumenigo, SOSvv, Chairperson

Tomorrow! Your attendance is vital at the Board of Adjustment Hearing – Weds, July 25th, 4 pm

via Richard Cargill, SOSvv Chair, Board of Directors:

Board of Adjustment Hearing – Weds, July 25th, 4 pm Commissioners Hearing Room, Boulder County Courthouse (Pearl St Mall)

Re: Save Our Saint Vrain Valley’s (SOSvv) appeal to Bldr Cnty Land Use Director Dale Case’s determination that the Special Use 96-18 mining permit from 1997 now held by Martin Marietta Materials (MMM) has not lapsed. The Board of Adjustment is a group of appointed volunteers with decision-making power in this appeal.

Agenda:
• 5 min presentation by Dale Case
• 15 min presentation by SOSvv’s attorney
• 15 min ” by MMM
• Public Comment period. Sign up at the beg. of the meeting – 3 mins/person. You can sign-up but give your time (pool it) to someone else instead of speaking when your time comes.
• 5 mins more for Dale Case
• 5 mins for rebuttal/response from MMM
• 10 mins for SOSvv rebuttal/response, final comments

Your presence at the meeting says a lot even if you choose not to speak. If you do speak, SOSvv’s attorney’s recommendation is that you speak from personal experience as a resident, be respectful & professional.

Fact Sheet

The original gravel mining permit was approved in 1997 with certain conditions, including that site plan & landscaping be approved by Bldr County Commissioners before operations begin. They accomplished this on Jan 3, 2017 in 10 minutes with no questions raised (you can view it online.)

At the meeting, one slide showing a b&w sketch of the site plan was shown. Very brief discussion touched on building heights and lighting. MMM had asked for lighting to be mounted higher (25’) than required (12’) and to be left on 24/7 for 10 years. MMM accepted that lights be on from dawn to dusk instead, noted by commissioner Deb Gardner as “a good compromise.”

There was no discussion re impacts of the operation on the surrounding community, environment, or any discussion of the Lapse Provision & changed conditions since 1997.

The Lapse Provision states that any Special Use permit will lapse if there is no activity at the site for 5 years. Dale Case determined that the permit had not lapsed because MMM stated they had removed weeds and done some “prairie dog control” at the site. MMM has not provided concrete evidence of these activities. Much rests with the interpretation of “activity” as it relates to the mining permit. Does removing weeds count as “activity” for a mining permit?

• Soon after the 1/3/17 meeting, a Hygiene resident noticed a short piece on approval of the site plan for the mining operation published in the local newspaper. Community concern spread quickly. Residents came together to form SOSvv and eventually hired an attorney experienced in these matters, financed solely by contributions from community residents. He will make a detailed presentation at the BOA hearing which will be enlightening for all. He recently won a similar case for Weld County residents fighting a MMM aggregate processing operation. Unfortunately, it was overturned on a technicality when MMM appealed & Weld County officials did not stand up for the community.

If you are a local resident who has biked, walked, or regularly driven by the 800+ acre site for years (bordered by Hygiene Rd, Hwy 66 & Hwy 36) it may prove important for you to tell BOA if you have never seen any signs of activity in the area. Likewise, if you’ve been a St. Vrain Valley resident for the past 10-30 years, it may be esp. important for you to tell from personal experience the changes you’ve seen in the area including: growth, traffic danger, 2013 flood damage, increase in small farms, cyclists & cycling events that bring revenue to the County, etc. One contention is that the area has remained unchanged since the original permit was issued in 1997 (i.e., no need to take into consideration any changes as the permit conditions require)

• This hearing is crucially important to show up for. Yes, decisions can sometimes be appealed, but it will be a whole lot less expensive to win this now, by convincing the local powers-that-be that the permit has lapsed, in order to protect the St. Vrain Valley.

Also Worth Noting…
In 2001 the North Boulder County Environmental Health Task Force rec’d the highest possible honor for county govt from NACo, the National Association of Counties, when it was recognized for its cooperative community effort with citizens to make the region around Lyons & the St. Vrain River cleaner and healthier. The effort focused on emissions from the Lyons Cement plant & was driven by the citizen group, St. Vrain Watchdogs. Land Use had determined that Cemex’s Special use permit hadn’t lapsed and they wanted to burn millions of waste tires at the site. Fortunately, this never happened due to citizen vigilance/efforts & eventual cooperation with the county.

Weld County Martin Marietta plant case and Boulder County Board of Adjustment hearing

Our friends in Weld County, the CLR-34 Neighborhoods Association, have encountered a setback in their opposition to a Martin Marietta Materials concrete and asphalt plant in Johnstown. After prevailing in the Court of Appeals against the MMM application, their request to have the plant torn down was denied on June 4. In a second ruling and shocking reversal, the judge sent the case back to the county commissioners who originally approved the special use permit. CLR-34 is currently reviewing its options. For more information visit the CLR-34 website.

For The Greeley Tribune/Davis Bonner

In an opinion piece published just two days earlier, the Greeley Tribune argued that the case should have been put to rest with the Court of Appeals ruling. When they took the case back to court in May, county officials argued that “residents who sued to stop the plant from being built near their homes and farms are to blame for the fact that Martin Marietta officials completed construction of the $20 million plant during the lengthy legal dispute.” The Tribune asserts that blaming residents is detrimental to the county. “Much of the frustration and general distrust many residents have for commissioners these days have their roots in the dispute over this high-profile decision. In fact, other lawsuits against commissioners in unrelated cases followed the asphalt plant dispute. This most recent court filing will only perpetuate the frustration and distrust.” The June 4 ruling surely has led to the further erosion of public trust in Weld County.

Citizens in and around the St. Vrain Valley want to trust that Boulder County will proceed in the best interests of the people and wildlife living in the vicinity of the proposed Martin Marietta Materials mining operation near Lyons. However, the recent ruling by the County’s Land Use Department on the five-year lapse provision has shaken our confidence. The county’s land use code specifies that special use permits must lapse after five years of inactivity. Why? These special uses are intensive and conditions change over time. There has been no mining on the site for at least ten years, but the Director of Land Use accepted weed remediation and prairie dog control as activity under Special Use Permit 96-18.

We all have an opportunity to show our opposition to this mining operation. Join SOSvv as we appeal the five-year lapse decision at the Boulder County Board of Adjustment hearing on July 25 at 4:00pm (Boulder County Courthouse, Commissioner’s Hearing Room).

We hope to see you there!

Update from Richard Cargill: July 25 Board of Adjustment hearing + essential background reading

Hello All,

We, the people, are scheduled to go before the Boulder County Board of Adjustment (BOA) on Wednesday, July 25 at 4pm in the Commissioners Hearing Room, Boulder County Courthouse.

The Boulder County Land Use Director determined on April 11, 2018 that the gravel mining permit issued in 1998, Special Use 96-18, had NOT lapsed under Section 4-604(C) of the Land Use Code. We hope you can attend the BOA on July 25 and show the County we will not put up with this.

SOSvv asserts in its appeal to the Board of Adjustment that Director Case exceeded his authority and incorrectly applied this lapse provision, Section 4-604(C). There is no evidence to suggest that any mining has occurred on any portion of the subject site since at least 2006, and Special Use 96-18 has long since lapsed due to inactivity. Furthermore, SOSvv asserts that the Director erred in his interpretation of Section 4-604(C) and that this interpretation is not consistent with the Land Use Code’s bedrock purpose to protect health, safety, and general welfare.

SOSvv will be represented by attorney Mark E. Lacis and attorney James R. Silvestro (Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe, PC).

Here are six essential documents that you’ll want to review prior to the BOA hearing on July 25.  Please share these docs with your friends, neighbors and encourage all to unite behind SOSvv’s Appeal.

1.)  April 11, 2018 letter from Dale Case to Martin Marietta regarding his determination on the lapse provision.  (3 pages)
2.)  May 10, 2018 letter of appeal from SOSvv’s legal counsel to the Board of Adjustment.  (9 pages)
3.)  May 23, 2018 letter to BOA and Dale Case regarding expert witnesses.  (2 pages)
4.)  May 24, 2018 response from Martin Marietta’s counsel to Dale Case.  (2 pages)
5.)  June 1, 2018 follow-up to SOSvv’s letter of May 23, and response from counsel for Martin Marietta.  (7 pages)
6.) June 4, 2018 letter from counsel for Martin Marietta to Dale Case opposing SOSvv.  (6 pages)

OTHER URGENT BUSINESS:

We had to pay a $750.00 fee to the County just to file the papers for a hearing before the Board of Adjustment.  As this issue expands in the courts, we are going to need more financial resources. Appropriate responses from SOSvv to the heightened aggressive tones from the mining industry (See June 4, 2018 letter from Martin Marietta), will also require additional money.

SOSvv is excited and grateful to share this: Van and Lisa Rollo have generously offered a matching donation of up to $5,000 for SOSvv’s legal fees.  If our community supporters contribute to the $5,000 match before of the deadline of June 30, 2018, the Rollos will personally match those donations dollar for dollar.  Please, accept this challenge and donate to Save Our St. Vrain Valley!  Your donation will be automatically doubled. We need this soon to pay our excellent legal team.

Donations are received at SOSvv’s website:  https://sosvv.wordpress.com.

Richard Cargill, Chair, Board of Directors, SOSvv

Mark Your Calendars: Board of Adjustment Appeal Hearing Rescheduled for July 25 at 4:00pm

The Board of Adjustment Appeal Hearing has been rescheduled for July 25. Please help us pack the hearing room to demonstrate our community’s opposition to gravel mining. If you have something to contribute specifically on the five-year lapse provision and/or Director Case’s decision about the status of Special Use Permit 96-18 , please come early to sign up for public comment (limited to 3 min). Note that only comments relating directly to these topics will be permitted.

Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Time: 4:00pm
Location: Commissioner’s Hearing Room, 1325 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302

See the Boulder County Land Use “Martin Marietta Materials Inc. Permit SU-96-18” website for a synopsis of the decision and the appeal. There are also links to public comments on file, as well as other background documents relating to the permit.

Board of Adjustment Appeal Hearing Postponed + Matching Donation Campaign

Dear SOSVV community,

The Board of Adjustment Appeal Hearing scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, June 6th has been CANCELLED, reschedule date pending. Boulder County Land Use Director Dale Case informed our attorneys, Ireland Stapleton, late yesterday afternoon that the BOA will not have a quorum on June 6th. We will update you as to the reschedule date as soon as we are notified. We hope that you will be able to stand with us then.

We are so grateful and excited to share that Van and Lisa Rollo have generously offered SOSVV up to a $5000 match donation in June 2018 to help raise $$$ for our legal fees against MMM. If our SOSVV membership or any other potential donors contribute $5000 between now and June 30th, 2018, the Rollos will personally match donations made $ for $. In other words, if we collectively raise $5k, the Rollos will also donations $5K in June. (If SOSVV is only able to raise $2.5K, then they will donate $2.5K, etc.)

We have our first face-to-face with Martin Marietta and their attorneys, and Land Use and their attorneys, at the BOA Appeal Hearing (reschedule time to be determined). We hope that you will stand by us and join us to show your support, and please support our legal fund now to maximize our efforts and the Rollos’ gracious contribution.

Sincerely,
Amanda Dumenigo
Chairperson, SOSVV