The Hitch Rack Ranch Quarry and What You Need to Know.
Transit Mix Concrete company is proposing to open a pit aggregate quarry on the historic Hitch Rack Ranch next to Little Turkey Creek, located west of Highway 115 a few miles south of Colorado Springs. Though aggregate quarries commonly provide necessary raw materials to our community in a beneficial manner, the location of this particular quarry has been controversial because opposition considers this quarry to be detrimental to the community. One aspect under consideration is that this quarry may directly impact the health of a cold water fishery on the front range, and therefore, falls within the scope of Pikes Peak Trout Unlimited strategic plan and conservation interests.
In early 2016, Transit Mix submitted an application with the Division of Mined Land Reclamation Board to develop a new quarry on the Hitch Rack Ranch. This historic ranch is known for 1,200-acres of prime mountain wilderness bordered by the Nature Conservancy’s Aiken Canyon and also bordered by the protected landscape of the Ingersoll Ranch. Therefore, the initial application faced opposition from the conservancy, from the trustees of the Ingersoll estate, and from homeowners along Highway 115.
The Colorado State Land Board owns the mineral rights beneath the Hitch Rack Ranch and had already issued a mineral lease to the Transit Mix Company for exploration purposes, which is their legal right. Subsequently, the Division of Mined Land Reclamation (DMLR) initially recommended that Transit Mix automatically be granted approval for submitting a mining plan.
Opponents to this quarry were able to successfully present their argument (included impacts upon wildlife, threatened and endangered species, traffic on Highway 115, impacts on neighborhoods, road access, safety issues, and possible degradation of water quality and availability) and stop the quarry at that time. Therefore, a year ago, DMLR Board denied Tranist Mix permission to open the quarry.
Transit Mix requested the board to reconsider citing the objectors’ lack of evidence in support of their statements. The result is that the original application has been augmented to address the local concerns and the mine plan is currently under renewed judicial review.
Enter Pikes Peak Trout Unlimited
In September, 2017, Kris McCowen, Chairman of the Highway 115 Citizens Advisory Committee, contacted David Nickum, of Colorado Trout Unlimited, to enlist TU’s support in opposing the quarry. Nickum forwarded the documents for review to Pikes Peak Trout Unlimited.
NOTE: Pikes Peak Trout Unlimited is not against mining and Transit Mix has a history of successfully mining aggregate at other quarries within the bounds of specified regulations.
In November, 2017, PPTU President, Allyn Kratz, and V.P. of Government Affairs, Michele White, reviewed the documents in support of the mine plan and made a recommendation to the PPTU board that we, as a chapter, write a letter in opposition of the quarry based on its location and the adverse impact on trout population in Little Turkey Creek.
In December, 2017, PPTU wrote a letter to Ms. Amy Eschberger of Colorado Division of Mining and Safety stating that in our professional opinion, the site is too sensitive an area to operate a mine near trout habitat. The quarry operation and its footprint, as proposed in the application, is remiss in addressing the trout population. Another adverse discovery is the geologic hazards at the proposed site. Michele White is a certified professional geologist with an extensive background in evaluating mining proposals. Her evaluation of the drilled core logs and regional structures (faults) precludes positive support of the quarry at this location.
To read our letter – click here….Letter of Objection