Gravel pit clear to begin

'Murphy Pit' plans to start end of March

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— More than two years of work is just weeks away from culmination, which will allow a longtime Hayden family in the gravel business to start operating a new pit.

Ed and Kathy Hockin, who are the owners of Ed Hockin Trucking Inc., are expecting to start mining the "Murphy Pit" by the end of March.

"We are excited about the new pit," Kathy Hockin said. "We hope it will last until we retire and will take care of the rest of our family."

In January, the family was granted a 10-year permit by the Routt County commissioners to operate the mine owned by Ron Murphy.

The pit is on Murphy's land, which is three miles west of town on the north side of U.S. 40.

Standing in the way of mining the new pit are three issues.

The first is the state approval for the mining operation.

The second hurdle is the family, who has been in the gravel business for almost 30 years, is applying for an exemption regarding air protection.

"We will probably receive an exemption because we plan on mining less than 70,000 tons a year," Hockin said. "We are careful with how much dust we put in the air. We run a clean operation."

The third issue is the family is seeking a discharge permit from the state to allow water from the mine to flow into the Yampa River.

The family is optimistic that the state approval, the air exemption and the discharge permit will be finalized by the end of March.

In preparing to open the new mine, the family is also working to close their prior mine, H&H Pit. The Hockins are working closely with Routt County to make sure they are following through on the reclamation of the land. Currently, the family is selling existing stock piles located on the property, she said.

"We should not have any trouble closing the pit," she said of the mine that stopped production last fall.

Routt County Planner John Eastman estimates the family's new gravel pit has the capacity to produce 60,000 tons of gravel a year.

It is estimated it would take about 3,333 truck loads a year to move the gravel.

The decision to operate a gravel pit on Murphy's land was a mutual one between the landowner and the Hockins.

A prior pit on the property and Murphy's desire for a pond on the land were reasons he entered into the business deal.

Included in the family's proposal is a reclamation plan that will be done when the 10-year permit expires.

Typically, reclaimed gravel mines leave a hole in the ground that is filled with water.

The proposal calls for an attempt to make a future lake in the gravel pit look natural.

The lake would have an island in the middle of it and also offer fishing access.

The plan also calls for the planting of about 50 trees around the lake to help the pit blend into the landscape.

Hockin is estimating that 80 percent of the trucks at the mine will be turning west, to Craig, where most the Hockins' gravel is made into cement and then sold in Routt County.

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