The valley south of Steamboat Springs is in the running to be named as one of Colorado's Most Endangered Places -- an important designation for a group trying to stop the creation of a gravel pit.
The Concerned Citizens group, which has been a vocal opponent of a proposal by Lafarge to open a gravel pit on Colorado Highway 131 six miles south of town, nominated the South Valley to Colorado Preservation Inc., a nonprofit organization that manages the list.
On Sept. 16, the group was notified the south valley was chosen at the regional level and is being considered as a finalist at the state level.
"It is one of the most beautiful places in the state and in the West. I don't want to see it changed, and anything we can do to keep it unchanged is a plus," Concerned Citizen group member Sam Marti said.
Four nominations came from Northwest Colorado and the organization saw more than 40 applications from across the state.
On Oct. 13, Colorado Preservation will make its statewide selection, and its board will finalize the nominations and announce the list during its conference in February, said Sarah Hansen, a program assistant at Colorado Preservation.
If the south valley is named to the list, it does not mean the Concerned Citizens group would receive any funding or grants, Hansen said, but her organization does give technical assistance to groups trying to save sites on the list.
"We work with the community, work with what the community is trying to save," Hansen said.
Launched in 1997 and funded through private donations and the State Historical Fund, the Endangered Places Program has designated more than 44 locations across the state, from the Grant Avenue Church in Denver to downtown Greeley to a 26-mile water ditch in Douglas, Arapahoe and Denver counties.
In 2000, the Rock Creek Stage Stop in South Routt was named to the Most Endangered Places list.
John Holloway, who is active in the Concerned Citizens group, said most of the sites on the list were buildings and man-made structures. He could only think of a few sites that preserve landscapes.
In its application, Concerned Citizens described the south valley as the area bordered by the city limits to the north, Routt County National Forest land to the east, the Service Creek Wilderness to the south and hills bordering the west boundary. Holloway said the area is about 2 to 3 miles wide and 7 to 8 miles long.
In its application to Colorado Preservation, the group stated the area should be approved because of its historical significance and the economic impact that unacceptable or incompatible development would have on the area. The group said the area is most imminently endangered because of Lafarge's proposed gravel pit at Colo. 131 and Routt County Road 18.
"Industrial and commercial development on this key open-space parcel would be detrimental in terms of the domino effect that it would have on development spreading from the southern end of the South Valley toward Steamboat Springs," the application reads.
In its application, the group sent in more than 81 photos of the valley and important landmarks and letters of support from community organizations and members.
Holloway hopes having the south valley designated as a most endangered place will add some weight to Concerned Citizens' cause and catch the attention of those outside the area.