ROYAL GORGE PRESERVATION PROJECT
P.O. BOX 173
CANON CITY, COLORADO 81215
February 25, 2019
Royal Gorge Association of Realtors
611 Greenwood Avenue
Canon City, Colorado 81212
Attn: Pam Gaunt, Association Executive
Dear Ms. Gaunt;
It is respectfully requested that you bring the following information to the attention of the Association of Realtors at the upcoming meeting for their consideration and support.
The Royal Gorge Preservation Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created to protect and educate the public regarding the value of tourism in the Royal Gorge area as a viable public goal and to preserve the natural beauty of the Royal Gorge region from environmentally destructive human activity.
Our Board has adopted this statement of mission in support of the various boards and entities within the Royal Gorge region that are committed to sustaining and enhancing the economic viability and natural beauty of our community. Conversely, we are committed to oppose those forces that would disrupt, denigrate or cause lasting harm to the progress currently being made.
In this regard, the Royal Gorge Preservation Project has taken the position that Zephyr Minerals, Ltd. falls clearly within the category of “environmentally destructive human activity.” Zephyr Minerals executives and some members of our community have extolled the economic virtues of their proposed mining operation. Stock sales have been the motivation for some, all while a substantive percentage of our population remains apathetic or unaware of the destructive effects that an active gold mine would bring to us.
There are numerous reasons why people who live in a rural residential area would not want a hard rock (gold) mining operation nearby. In our case the mining operation would be located adjacent to our city limits to the southwest (Dawson Ranch) and directly visible from Canon City. Potential problems include declining property values. No one wants to live near an operational gold mine (or one that is dormant or abandoned, for that matter). No one wants to deal with heavy truck traffic on a daily basis, 24/7 industrial lighting, the smoke and noise inherent in ore processing, greatly heightened danger from fire, and the catastrophic potential of a one million-ton tailings pond located approximately 600 feet above the Arkansas River, just to name a few of the disadvantages. As the desirability of an area decreases, so too do property values.
Other factors that would work to depreciate property values include vehicular traffic. At a Zephyr open meeting in Canon City on May 17, 2017, a Zephyr spokesperson stated that one truck would haul ore every seven or eight days. In 2019, in a written statement to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requesting access to mining property across BLM land, Will Felderhof, Executive Chairman of Zephyr Minerals, Ltd., stated the potential for twenty haul trucks per day accessing mining property in addition to a myriad of other vehicular traffic. Additional factors include the permanent visual impact a mine would have; air pollution caused by wind, blasting, drilling and rock crushing; groundwater contamination; surface water contamination; noise (crushing, blasting, etc. that would be heard well within city limits); dangerous precedents (once mining begins, further degradation follows); and the continuing expansion of mining activity once the permitting process is established.
An Association of Realtors decision not to favor the continuing development of a community gold mine would positively impact the economics and aesthetics of our community. Our current emphasis on tourism and recreation in general represents the future growth of Fremont County. A mine, regardless of its ownership, represents singular corporate greed with little or nothing to offer our community except a legacy of ugliness and environmental destruction that will live with us in perpetuity.
Your willingness to decide in the interest of community progress in lieu of the consequences of stepping backward in time will be appreciated.
Royal Gorge Preservation Project
An approximate seven foot deep trench on the mining site, yet to be reclaimed.
POSTED: 12/06/2018 03:38:41 PM MST. Daily Record
The involvement of Zephyr Minerals Ltd. in our community appears to be growing ever more grim. Having a working mine in our community's back yard would be ugly and environmentally destructive. Now it appears that we are looking toward contending with an oil and gas lease contiguous with the Dawson Ranch subdivision. The fact that the oil and gas lease was "anonymously" nominated for lease from the BLM, and that the proposed lease is directly adjacent to Zephyr's mining claims, is an apparent coincidence worth of further investigation.
If all of this wasn't enough, Zephyr Minerals Ltd. has now proposed a new mineral lease from the Colorado State Land Board encompassing Grape Creek and adjoining Temple Canyon Park. Interestingly, this proposed lease (640 acres) is located directly to the west of the Zephyr claims and includes the Grape Creek floodplain.
It's time for our county leaders, especially our Fremont County Commissioners, to speak out about this. The prospect of turning back the clock on our community at the expense of progress fueled by tourism is imminent. The odor of barnyard is becoming prevalent.
It is an accepted psychological principle that every man speaks from his (her) own frame of reference. The views/opinions expressed in this 'corner' are mine, but designed to capture the views/opinions of others in our community. Let me be clear regarding my frame of reference. I do not want a gold mine in my back yard! Not just my actual back yard, but the back yard of my community. Mining companies do what they do for their profit . Community residents that want to preserve the beauty of their physical surroundings, while encouraging a local economy comprised of businesses that blend with and support the Arkansas corridor theme, do what they do to support that goal.
The recent meeting with Zephyr Minerals, Ltd. at 523 Main Street in Canon City clearly expressed that sentiment. Verbal opposition from attendees gave a clear indication of marked opposition to Zephyr's mining plan, suggesting that our residents are ready for this reality show to leave town. In that meeting, Mr. Felderhof, Executive Chairman and Director of Zephyr, stated that he had personally invested $500,000.00 in the Zephyr project. A meeting participant stated that the investment that he had in his home, in the now looming shadow of the mine, exceeded that of Mr. Felderhof's. Multiply this times the investments of the myriad of homeowners that have bought or built in Canon City for its small town ambiance and scenic beauty, unaware that a backyard gold mine was in their future.
Further articles will address and express viewpoints believed to be pertinent to the welfare and growth of our community. A back yard gold mine does not fit this bill. Stay tuned!
The proposed Zephyr Minerals gold mine, brought to you primarily by an outdated and obsolete mining law signed by President U.S. Grant in 1872, is apparently going to be the first mine in recorded history that will have nothing but beneficial impacts on a nearby community and its surrounding environment. In a Canon City Daily Record article by Carie Canterbury, dated September 21, 2018, Will Felderhoff, executive chairman and director for Zephyr Minerals, says he is positive that the nearby mine will actually drive home prices up in the nearby Dawson Ranch subdivision. Rob Brown, executive director for Fremont Economic Development Corporation, states that he is, “…very confident that if managed properly, it will not be any type of blight on our local view plane.”
It’s good to be reassured that there will not be the usual problems that have historically been associated with other mines. Apparently there will be no high volume of overburden or waste rock with possible toxic substances; no acid mine drainage; no potential for soil and sediment erosion; no airborne emissions resulting from operational activities; no possibility of the mercury found in gold ore and associated waste materials being spread to Dawson Ranch, Evelyn Drive and Wolf Park homes, with the prevailing winds out of the southwest; no noise pollution from vehicle engines, loading and unloading of rock into steel dumpers, blasting, transport, crushing, grinding and stockpiling; no vibrations affecting nearby homes as a result of blasting or the many types of equipment used in mining operations; no possible visual impact on the mountain and hills that serve as a scenic back drop for Canon City; no increased wildfire occurrences usually associated with increased mine and personnel traffic; no problems at all associated with twenty ton ore trucks using Temple Canyon Road and Highway 115 at a rate of twenty (according to a right-of-way application filed with the BLM) per day, seven days a week; no light pollution from the high wattage working lamps burning throughout the nighttime hours; no impacts on nearby home and property values; and absolutely no impact on the recreational biking and hiking trails used by an increasing number of tourists to the area.
Mr. Brown, astoundingly, also says that, “…it’s a balancing act between the benefits that they can bring, the potential liabilities associated with those benefits and how we choose to welcome them as a community and then manage them as a community.’ So again, I am reassured by his statement that the “balancing act” and management that will be required relative to this proposed mine is up to the community, not the BLM, Fremont County or the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, none of whose permitting history indicates that they have ever seen a mine permit application or plan of operations that they didn’t like.
Mr. Brown, who appears to be one of Zephyr Minerals’ primary cheerleaders and spokespersons, states that he is somewhat disappointed in how Zephyr has been treated by some members of the community. He didn’t expound on what particular treatment disappointed him, but I assume he is referring to some negative comments regarding the proposed mine. Mr. Brown seems to have forgotten that Canon City and Fremont County are both actually part of the United States and as such, its citizens are still entitled to some freedom of expression. So as citizens of these United States, I encourage those with any concerns over a foreign firm mining on our public lands (and being totally exempt from paying any royalties back to our government) to express those concerns to your Fremont County Commissioners, City Council members, State Senators, State Representative, and your Homeowners Association. Attend any and all public meetings relative to Zephyr and speak your mind. Once the mine is permitted and active, it’s too late to become concerned.
Bio: Paul Tanner worked forty plus years for the USFS and BLM in six different states and held a variety of positions including twenty-two years as a Field Manager. Other positions included Forester, Surface Protection Specialist (oil shale as well as oil and gas), Realty Specialist and Natural Resource Specialist (oil and gas permitting).
Mt. Polley tailings pond breach in British Columbia that emptied into a river with salmon.
By Steve Kaverman
Special to the Daily Record
POSTED: 08/01/2018 02:39:28 PM MDT
The prospect of Zephyr Minerals, or any corporation operating a gold mine, whether underground or on the surface, on the edge of Cañon City, is unimaginable. Residents of the region and anyone downstream of Cañon City on the Arkansas River should be concerned, and alert.
Ask 100 (or 1,000) area residents or visitors: "What makes the Royal Gorge Region and Cañon City such a desirable place live, visit, sightsee and enjoy outdoor recreation?" No one will respond, "Because we love the rock quarry just west of town. That big, rocky scar is just lovely. We'd like to see more operations like it."
That prediction is even more certain than, "Because we're so proud of our heritage as a prison town. Prisons are such a great draw for tourism."
Or, ask anyone, yes anyone ... "Do you think starting a wildfire next to the Dawson Ranch neighborhood, to create a few temporary jobs, and get rid of all those trees would be a good idea?"
Of course, no one (except the quarry operators) would be in favor of expanding to areas not already affected - or planned to be. Of course, no one would like to return to the reputation of being, 'just a prison town'. Of course, no one would be in favor of starting a wildfire because extinguishing it creates jobs, or because wildfires destroy the forest, wreck property values, and ruin the scenic landscapes we all enjoy.
Allowing a gold mine on the edge of town, whether underground or on the surface, would be just as bad for our community as a bigger rock quarry, more prisons, or a landscape forever changed by a wildfire. Yet, there are those in the community who support the idea. The prospect of doing any more damage that has been, and will already be done to the mountainside by exploration presently underway should be prevented.
Thankfully, Cañon City has potential and better options. Factors such as rock quarries and prisons, or events as destructive as wildfires which have detracted from our community, are being overshadowed by a new image, and a more attractive future. They have been eclipsed by new economic development spurred by tourism, and all the facets of outdoor recreation this region offers. We are redefining ourselves, and the future of tourism, tech, and other modern, attractive and sustainable businesses offer a bright future.
As a leading advocate for tourism and leisure travel on a local, regional and state level, I can confidently say that in the Royal Gorge Region, that is what we should be banking on, and striving to develop. Consider what tourism alone does for our region. In 2017, tourism-related spending in Fremont County was $71.0 million dollars, up from $64.8 million in 2016. Earnings increased to $18.1 million from $16.4. Employment rose to 897 from 825. Local tax revenue was up to $2.7 million from $2.3 million, and state tax revenue collected in the county increased to $2.0 million from $1.9.
Tourism is one of the most powerful drivers of Colorado's economy, creating jobs faster than any other industry sector, and the Royal Gorge Region is ideally positioned to capitalize on that potential. More importantly, tourism brings economic benefits without destroying our priceless landscapes and scenic views. It attracts, rather than drives away visitors who spend money in all sorts of businesses, from lodging to restaurants, galleries, gas stations, gift and grocery stores.
So please, stop to consider what is at risk by trading a modern, attractive, sustainable future, for a step backward. Don't make the trade for a gold mine that will destroy the natural beauty our region can bank on, invest in and enjoy for generations to come. A gold mine would be an unfortunate legacy we will regret, and be apologizing for into the next century.
Visit www.zapzephyr.com for more information. Without your concern, voice and action, we risk losing what we have worked so hard for. We risk losing the natural beauty we cherish.