From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):
The Fremont County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a conditional use permit request from Zephyr Minerals Ltd. to expand its gold exploration area southwest of here…
Among the 24 conditions of the approval require Zephyr to get sufficient water to the drill site and avoid disturbance of ground within 500 feet of Grape Creek, Bell said.
The company would expand the current 593 exploration area by 1,169 acres for a total of 1,762 acres. The Colorado State Land Trust board last April OK’d exploration on a parcel in the Grape Creek/Horseshoe Mountain area, just southwest of Canon City’s Temple Canyon Park.
“I feel like they (Colorado State Land Board) made it pretty tough on them. They have to helicopter water in,” Tim Payne, commissioner, said.
Commissioner Dwayne McFall said land use issues are the hardest for the commission to address because there are residents who are both for and against them.
Zephyr currently is conducting exploration just west of the Dawson Ranch neighborhood in the Dawson Peak area. The new exploration area would be to the west of that —on U.S. Bureau of Land Management Land — and Zephyr has another application pending with that agency.
Exploration would impact less than 2% of the permitted area, according to the application. The disturbance area would be about 3 acres.
Exploration would be done in two phases, including an airborne magnetic and electromagnetic geophysical survey. The second phase would be “traditional core drilling to test targets generated by the airborne survey,” according to the application.
From The Cañon City Daily Record (Carrie Canterbury):
The expansion will add acreage to the west of the current boundary of the CUP. The application was approved by a majority vote by the Fremont County Planning Commission in January and was tabled by the county commissioners Feb. 11 to allow the board more time to compile findings…
During the February meeting, Will Felderhof, the executive chairman and director for Zephyr Minerals, said his company has demonstrated during the last eight years that they’ve been doing everything correctly, that they are committed to doing things properly and they are committed to following all of the rules and regulations.
The board heard from 13 people during a public hearing Feb. 11. Of those, 10 were against the expansion, two were neutral and one was in favor.
Gary Peterson, the chairman of the Royal Gorge Preservation Project, said the CUP expansion request “is an operational part of the process that leads to the development of a full-blown mining operation that has the potential to propel our community into just another dirty little mining community … ”
Others speaking in opposition shared concerns about water, noise, access and imposition the expansion could have on wildlife.
Findings presented Tuesday state that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management have expertise regarding the potential disruption of wildlife in the area and the lighting proposed for the drill site is minimal and does not exceed the amount that is necessary for the operations.
The board prohibits the applicant from conducting drill operations without a source of water to use in the process, which may require the use of a helicopter or other means without the use of roadways or other vehicular traffic.