Your Comments are Needed to Preserve the Red Canyon Stewardship Trust Property.
Comment by February 6!
The Colorado State Land Board is expected to review this issue at their February, 2020 meeting in Denver.
A pair of Mexican spotted owl fledglings. Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. Photo NPS.gov.
The Colorado State Land Board (SLB) is considering a mining proposal by Martin Marietta Materials to exchange the 647 acre Red Canyon Stewardship Trust parcel, southwest of Colorado Springs in eastern Fremont County, and adjacent to BLM's Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area, for smaller parcels of land nearby and elsewhere.
According to the SLB, the parcel was designated for protection in 1998 due to its “significant natural values, the sound stewardship of which will preserve the long-term benefits and returns to the state.”
These “natural values” have not diminished in 20+ years.
Wild Connections and the Pikes Peak Sierra Club studied, nominated, and advocated for Stewardship Trust status for Red Canyon in 1998 and we achieved it.
Now we want to continue protection for the parcel and we need your help.
Details to assist your comments to the State Land Board:
• Because the Red Canyon Quarry would continue to operate at its current location, the new lease, extending southwestward and covering an additional 647 acres, would create a much larger barrier to human and wildlife movement, nearly 3 miles wide. This would have a much greater impact on key wildlife corridors.
• The threatened Mexican spotted owl (MSO) is one of Colorado’s rarest species. Proposed changes to the Red Canyon Stewardship Trust property endanger the short and long-term viability of one of Colorado's most important activity centers for the owl. MSOs are at the precipitous of this quarry exchange proposal, however since the stewardship trust parcel also contains MSO habitat, it is not clear how much, if at all, the species would benefit from the proposal.
• With the Trust parcel at its center, nearby lands, including Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area, an area included in the 2019 Colorado Wilderness Act, and the Nature Conservancy’s Aiken Canyon Preserve, are rich in wildlife species and habitat. Thriving in these valuable mid-elevation forests and meadows live elk, bighorn, mountain lion, deer, black bear, ringtail, many songbirds, raptors, and several species of owl in addition to the MSO.
• Exchanging the natural qualities of the Trust property for mining development will certainly disrupt wildlife connectivity, the movement patterns essential to animal wellbeing.
• Because 667 acres are being removed from the Stewardship Trust, and only 426 acres added (additional designations to make up the 221-acre difference could be located anywhere in the state) the net effect of the exchange is to have less protected Stewardship Trust land in this key area.
• There will be linked mining impacts on air quality and water supplies and quality.
* Open pit mining is a dusty business. Quarrying requires large amounts of water to quelch fugitive dust and for other operations. Where will this water come from?
* The Red Creek/Banta Gulch area is arid. Most people living near the proposed quarry expansion depend on wells for water. Any toxic wastes or floods from the quarry could damage wells. AND Banta Gulch feeds Beaver Creek that provides both domestic and agricultural water for the town of Penrose and environs—and even some for Colorado Springs.
• Noise pollution from mining activity produces detrimental impacts for nearby wildlife and human populations.
• An increase in noise from mine blasting and heavy machinery means a decrease of solitude, a legally required wilderness attribute, for the adjacent Beaver Creek WSA.
• Loss of public access to a Stewardship Trust property, close to large urban populations, means elimination of a significant area of wildlife-related recreation for hunting, wildlife observation, and other uses.
• The loss of the Trust property will add to the steep statewide loss of wildlands and plant and animal habitats in the wildlands/urban interface.
• The increasing number of transfers of Stewardship Trust lands to commercial development may diminish the overall economic and ecological values of the trust, as parcels of lesser natural values replace higher value, original parcels.
• Because the Stewardship Trust parcel borders private land to the south, the exchange would severely impact a number of homeowners who would have an operating quarry as a neighbor.
Exploring the old growth forest at Banta Gulch Canyon in the Red Canyon Stewardship State Trust Parcel. Photo John Stansfield.
Where to send your comment...
Please use the information provided here, and your own knowledge and desires, in composing a comment to the State Land Board.