The Red Canyon Quarry Expansion Proposal has been withdrawn!
The Red Canyon Stewardship Trust State Land will remain intact!
A pair of Mexican spotted owl fledglings. Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. Photo NPS.gov.
Red Canyon Stewardship Trust was designated for protection in 1998 for its “significant natural values, the sound stewardship of which will preserve the long-term benefits and returns to the state.”
On February 21, 2020, the Colorado State Land Board sent out a notice that Martin Marietta withdrew their application and that no further board action will occur. The existing lease will remain as is, and no changes to the Stewardship Trust will be made at this time.
Thanks so much to everybody that sent in public comments and attended the February 12 workshop. We had power in numbers and assuredly had an impact on this decision. This was a great win for our local public lands and wildlife. This natural area and wildlife corridor, adjacent to BLM’s Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area, which is proposed for wilderness in Congresswoman DeGette’s Colorado Wilderness Act, will remain undamaged.
On February 12, 2020, the Colorado State Land Board held a public workshop to consider whether to remove the Red Canyon Stewardship Trust parcel from the Stewardship Trust. If removed, it would allow the owner of the nearby Red Canyon Quarry, Martin Marietta, to expand the quarry onto the former Stewardship Trust parcel.
Wild Connections opposed this because it would impair the wilderness values of the adjoining Beaver Creek Wilderness Study area, one of the areas proposed for wilderness designation under the Protect America’s Wilderness Act, which passed the House of Representatives on February 12, 2020. In addition, it would severely impact nearby homeowners and wildlife corridors from the WSA onto the State parcel and beyond.
The Colorado State Land Board (SLB) considered 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.
Wild Connections and the Pikes Peak Sierra Club studied, nominated, and advocated for Stewardship Trust status for Red Canyon in 1998 & we achieved it.
Why Wild Connections Opposed the Quarry Expansion:
• 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.
Red Canyon Stewardship Trust (left) and Beaver Creek proposed Wilderness (right). Photo John Sztukowski.
Wild Connections' mission is to identify, protect, and restore wildlands, native species,
and biological diversity in the Arkansas and South Platte watersheds.