This letter was submitted by our chapter on March 28, 2020.
March 28, 2020
TO: Amy Titterington, Geologist and AML Coordinator
South Park Ranger District, USFS
P.O. Box 219; 320 US Highway 285
Fairplay CO 80440
RE: Public Comment submission for Oro Vista #1, #2, #3 (Oro Vista Claim Block) Mine Proposal, 12 miles north of Buena Vista, Colorado.
Dear Ms. Titterington,
The following comments are from the local Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Our mission is to conserve, protect, restore and reconnect Colorado’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. The upper Arkansas River is our home river and includes the longest stretch of Gold Medal water in the entire state – 102 miles from the Lake Fork confluence just below Leadville downstream to the Highway 50 bridge near Parkdale. The river is a powerful economic generator for the valley and the State of Colorado.
The upper Arkansas River is heavily utilized and appreciated by thousands each year for a variety of water-related activities including, but not limited to, high quality angling for both walk-wade and float fishing, white water rafting on the most rafted river in the U.S., hiking on the nature trails and camping at approved sites adjacent to the river. The riparian areas and a healthy water source are important to support the large numbers and variety of plants and animals in the valley. All potentially negative impacts to this watershed should be carefully and thoroughly evaluated prior to approval. Allowing activities and operations with limited benefit for a very few at the expense of the large body of appropriate users is not acceptable. No location or scale of in-stream suction dredging and hand auger drilling operation is appropriate for this river.
There is significant potential to cause immediate up and downstream degradation of river channel habitat. There is no plan included in this proposal that provides for the required fish passage. Extracting target metals in dredging operations causes surface and ground water to be highly altered. Destabilizing large amounts of river channel substrates often brings non-target impacts to downstream reaches, ultimately creating future negative issues for consumptive users, recreational users and aquatic organisms like fish and macroinvertebrates.
There are State and Federal water quality standards that are publicly available and applicable to the proposed site and conformance with these standards must be enforced. A systematic sediment management and extensive reclamation plan must be provided for but are not included in the application.
The Oro Vista Claim Block would set a dangerous precedent for our beloved river. CPC-TU strongly opposes this application and would ask that USFS not approve it. Thank you for your consideration.
Collegiate Peaks Chapter – Trout Unlimited