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Glenwood Springs Declares War On Mining Company

Nov 21, 2019

Credit Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

“We’re at war. These are battles we need to win.”

Mayor Jonathan Godes stood in front of a large room of City Hall lined up next to other city officials at the recent rollout of the “Don’t Strip Glenwood” campaign. 

The city is designating $1.25 million to fight Rocky Mountain Resources’ proposed limestone mine expansion. City officials say if that expansion is approved, it could decimate their tourist town. 

The Mid-Continent Quarry mining site just outside of Glenwood Springs' city limits.
Credit Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

The current limestone mining operation at the Mid-Continent Quarry is about 15 acres, tucked away from view in a pit between two green mountains. That could change; Rocky Mountain Resources is trying to expand its operations to 447 acres. 

“From a big picture standpoint, [the] entire hillside comes down,” Jeff Peterson, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Citizens’ Alliance, said.

He says if the proposal is approved, limestone extraction could increase by 5,000%, which means 500 more mining trucks traveling through the city limits. 

As Peterson looks down at the mine, he points out that the mountain standing over the pit would be completely stripped if Rocky Mountain Resources’ operations expanded. 

Jeff Peterson (left), the Executive Director of the Glenwood Springs Citizens' Alliance, and Jonathan Godes (right), the mayor of Glenwood Springs, stand on on a cliff overlooking Rocky Mountain Resources' mine site.
Credit Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

He says it wouldn’t just affect the mountains. It could also hurt Glenwood Springs’ $500 million tourism-based economy, starting with the hot springs.

“If that entire bowl is removed, and that cave system is disturbed, there’s a chance that that groundwater no longer comes to the point that it’s being heated currently and goes to our springs. [They] could disappear,” Peterson said. 

Mayor Godes says all of this is why Glenwood Springs launched its “Don’t Strip Glenwood” campaign. 

“It’s a direct threat to Glenwood Springs,” he said. “It’s a threat to the region and, really, the whole state.”

Godes said Rocky Mountain Resources’ proposal is offensive to the town, known by many for its natural beauty and rich history. 

“This is not a mining community,” Godes said. “This a threat that we are fighting.”

Credit Molly Dove / Aspen Public Radio

Glenwood Springs director of tourism Lisa Langer held back tears while she talked about how mining has negatively affected other regions in the state. She does not want tourists seeing dust from the mine clouding the air. 

“It’s a big deal,” she said. “It would impact us severely here.”

Mayor Godes says a threat to Glenwood Springs is a threat to the whole Roaring Fork Valley. Neighboring towns and counties have passed resolutions in support of the efforts against Rocky Mountain Resources. Godes said everyone fighting together is the best strategy to win the war.