Steamboat Springs The Routt County Board of Commissioners will not shut down Fred Duckels' gravel pit west of town for noncompliance with county regulations but instead directed planning officials to assist in getting the conditions of his permit met.
Fred Duckels appeared in front of the commissioners Tuesday after the Routt County Regional Planning Commission unanimously recommended the revocation of his permit to run the Duckels Hogue Gravel Pit last month.
The Planning Commission said Duckels failed to extend a berm as mining operations expanded to shield the pit; allowed more than 15 acres of land to be disturbed at one time; didn't consistently maintain a four-inch water flow in the Duquette Ditch, which runs through the property and ensures water will be in surrounding mines; and didn't maintain noxious weed control on disturbed land.
Planning commissioners also were concerned that more than 12 trucks in one hour were turning into the mine from U.S. 40, which, according to Colorado Department of Transportation rules, means Duckels would have to build acceleration and deceleration lanes.
Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak pointed out that two of those allegations weren't of concern to the county commission.
First, there was no significant evidence that noxious weeds were a problem at the pit.
"This is one that I would question whether or not we have an issue," Stahoviak said.
She added that Routt County Extension Agent C.J. Mucklow commented to the county in 1997 that Duckels was cooperative about weed-control efforts.
"If there was a weed problem out there, I would be the first to bellyache," said Mike Hogue, who owns the land the gravel mine is on.
"I would hope so," Stahoviak replied. "You're wife is on the (Routt County) Weed Advisory Board."
Commissioners also pointed out that any infraction with CDOT pertaining to the number of trucks turning into the mine should be dealt with by that agency.
Planning staffer Jim Goosens showed evidence to the commissioners that in August, 25 violations were made from truck traffic.
"I think we need more information," Stahoviak said of the data. She later added: "It's up to CDOT to make the interpretation and tell us."
Duckels told commissioners he didn't know the conditions of his permit weren't being followed until he received a letter in February from the county to appear in front of the planning commission, even though planning staffers said they repeatedly attempted to contact him by mail.
Duckels said his reclamation map showed the berming pattern to be consistent with what he was doing, but admitted he had some questions about it.
"I probably should have contacted the county on it. But I read the paper and I see what's going on with gravel pits so I thought I'd let sleeping dogs lie," Duckels said.
For the Duquette Ditch, Duckels said keeping water in it caused flooding problems for the Steamboat Golf Course.
As far as disturbing more than 15 acres at a time, Duckels maintained that it would have been impossible to follow the reclamation practices of filling the pit up with water until all the gravel was extracted.
Planning staffer John Eastman pointed out that Duckels should have seeded the disturbed area until water could fill in the pit.
"It's a pretty common practice and there is no reason it couldn't have been done," Eastman said.
The commissioners concluded that the berming and disturbing of the 15 acres should have taken place, but it didn't justify revoking Duckels' permit which Duckels said would put him out of business.
"I feel that based on the discussion we have had today leads me to believe we can work with Fred to resolve these issues," Stahoviak said.
The commissioners made a motion to revise the conditions of the permits to reflect that stance and direct the planning staff to work with Duckels on making sure he understands what to do and gets the work done.
Planning staff will set the date of when Duckels must have the conditions met.