Developers Jarle Halsnes and Chip Coe propose to use this site in the South Valley to host wetlands mitigation for a new gravel mining operation that could last 15 to 20 years. The pond in the photos was created by a temporary gravel pit used solely for the widening of Colorado Highway 131.

Photo by Tom Ross

Developers Jarle Halsnes and Chip Coe propose to use this site in the South Valley to host wetlands mitigation for a new gravel mining operation that could last 15 to 20 years. The pond in the photos was created by a temporary gravel pit used solely for the widening of Colorado Highway 131.

Gravel mine makes reappearance

Plans for a South Valley mining operation from 2005 have re-emerged


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On the 'Net

Interested people are able to review the submitted plans for Alpine Aggregates at the Native Excavating Web site. Go to www.nativeexcavat... and click on the Alpine Aggregates link near the top of the page. Content includes the pre-application documents submitted to Routt County and blueprints. Visitors are encouraged to submit questions by e-mail to alpineaggregates@.... Those questions would become the basis for a "frequently asked questions" portion of the Web site.

At a glance

Steamboat Sand and Gravel Mine

- No asphalt or concrete plants

- Life of pit: 18 to 20 years depending on market conciliations

- Anticipated mining: 300,000 tons per year

- Proposed hours of operation: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays as needed in summer

- Plan to mine 5 acres at a time while reclaiming previous 5 acres at the same time

- Visual screening in the form of more than 350 cottonwoods on berms, as well as wetlands enhancement would be done at the front end of the project

— Plans for a South Valley gravel pit that were approved by the county in 2005 but never built have returned in a new form.

Ed MacArthur, of Native Excavating, confirmed that plans for a gravel mining operation (minus a concrete batch plant) near the Colorado Highway 131 Bridge over the Yampa River have been submitted to the Routt County Regional Planning Department.

The original Lafarge proposal ignited four years of debate from the time it was proposed until the commissioners gave their approval in May 2005. Ultimately, Lafarge officials decided the constraints placed on their operations by the county were more than they could live with, including a requirement that they disturb no more than 25 acres at a time.

Neighbors expressed strong concerns with the visual impacts and the gravel truck traffic the mine would generate. Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak insisted on limiting the hours of operation because of the low lying fog that hangs over the Yampa River and surrounding area, particularly in winter.

MacArthur said he has no ownership stake in the project but will take it through the planning process on behalf of owners Jarle Halsnes and Chip Coe, the principals in Steamboat Sand and Gravel. MacArthur would create a new division of his excavating company, Alpine Aggregates, to operate the gravel operation that is expected to be active for 15 to 20 years.

The applicants have submitted documents for the county pre-application process, which does not result in a "yes" or "no" vote. The pre-application documents include tentative plans to ultimately develop a five-lot land preservation subdivision on the reclaimed gravel mine.

When the plans go to the more formal development permit process, the gravel mine would be submitted separately from the subdivision.

No public hearings have been scheduled, however, they will be part of the pre-application process.

County Planning Director Chad Phillips said the pre-application could go to the Planning Commission in September and on to the Board of Routt County Commissioners in September or October.

Phillips said although this is a new project with notable differences from the old Lafarge proposal, the previous process could influence the new proposal.

"It's still a gravel pit, but as gravel pits go, this is substantially different," he said. "It doesn't include an asphalt or concrete operation. Lafarge had some problems with irrigation ditches. (MacArthur) is leaving them alone. My advice to Ed was to follow the lead" of commissioner reactions to the previous proposal.

MacArthur said he won't pretend the proposed operation is anything but a gravel pit, but he promised to take measures to obscure the mining. Measures will be taken to shield the visual impacts of gravel crushing, cleaning and loading operations," MacArthur said.

"We'll recess ourselves down 15 to 20 feet and surround it with a berm and cottonwoods to where nobody on (Routt County Road 16 accessing Lake Catamount) or 131 will be able to see us," MacArthur said.

He and the developers think a gravel mine in the South Valley offers the advantage of giving building contractors near Steamboat Ski Area a source of gravel that does not necessitate sending gravel trucks through downtown Steamboat. However he acknowledged that as the operator, he would seek concrete business, which implies sending some portion of the gravel through downtown Steamboat to one of two concrete plants on the city's west side.

MacArthur predicted the concrete traffic would be offset by a reduction in the truck trips needed to ferry gravel through town to construction sites at the mountain.

Steamboat Sand and Gravel has acquired a 42.3-acre parcel that fronts on Colo. 131 and was not part of the Lafarge proposal, MacArthur said. It would not change the highway access point but instead would function as on-site wetlands mitigation from the mine sites. Living plants would be harvested and immediately replanted on the 42.3 acres, MacArthur said, allowing his employees to conduct wetlands mitigation and take steps to ensure it is successful, even as mining operations are ongoing.

Instead of creating one 70-acre lake after mining operations cease, as Lafarge anticipated, the current proposal would create as many as six ponds with home sites blending into them.

"We're going to end up with 37 acres of ponds," he said.

MacArthur said he has created an Alpine Aggregates link at the Native Excavating Web site in an effort to get as many issues on the table as early as possible.

"If people really have an interest and questions they want answered, our intent is to respond," he said.

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail


Scott Wedel 7 years, 8 months ago

How can they claim to reduce truck traffic through SB when not only are they willing to sell gravel to those west of SB, MacArthur plans to use gravel from this pit to make concrete west of SB?

If they want to claim as a public benefit that they will reduce truck traffic through SB then they cannot be sending gravel trucks though SB.

Most of the local gravel pits are also owned by an excavating construction company that use their own gravel for their projects. If these companies could agree to a "gravel is a commodity" agreement so that Native would use gravel west of SB for their projects west of SB while Connell Resources and so on would use this pit for their projects west of SB then there would be a true public benefit of reducing truck traffic through SB.


aichempty 7 years, 8 months ago


So how do you get the two facilities to agree on market share, fix prices (which would be monopolistic and unlawful) and obtain the same profits they would from open competition as part of this deal. Your idea would be like imposing deed-restricted housing requirements after the fact on everyone who has purchased a home in the city limits.

The things that must be done are:

  1. Enforce laws requiring trucks to be covered.

  2. Make them wash down the trucks to remove spilled gravel so it won't end up on the roads and cracking our windshields.

  3. Enforce speed limits for trucks through town.

  4. Safety inspections for the trucks so we don't end up with them broken down in the middle lane in the middle of towns.

People squawl about construction prices and then want to impose restrictions that make construction more expensive. You can't make anything more affordable by restricting the source of supply. That's fundamental economics.

Given the current economy, I can hardly see where two pits would be able to stay in business anyway.


Tubes 7 years, 8 months ago

you don't open a 15-20 year gravel mine based on the current economy.


greenwash 7 years, 8 months ago

Connell Pit in west SBS has been closed for over a year now.

Sounds like a good project to me.Ill support it.


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