To Whom It May Concern
September 7, 2017
by Concerned Homeowners of Park County
We, the Concerned Homeowners of Park County, are not against mining. One cannot be a member of society today without understanding the need for mining to supply the items prevalent in our modern lifestyle. We support responsible mining. We trust and hope that mining is done responsibly everywhere to supply the needed materials for the goods that we purchase and use. We cannot speak to mines we have not seen, but we can to the operations here in our county. The large and expanding operations here in South Park are not consistent with responsible mining.
People say that mining is part of our heritage and therefore these new operations are simply an extension of our past. There are two errors with that argument. First, people, communities, and towns grow and change. Just because something is part of the past does not mean it belongs in the present or future. Human history is littered with many meaningful examples of shifting and progressing values and priorities. This is further illustrated with our knowledge of this community. In our combined decades here, we have not encountered a single person who moved here to mine and know only a few who are involved in the industry. Mining, while still here and a small piece of the community, is no longer an integral part of South Park.
Secondly, our mining history involved burros and pick axes. Mining with machinery that can flatten an acre in less than a day right next to a home is not part of the heritage of Park County. Technology has progressed the industry to where it is no longer compatible with residential areas of our county. This was not an issue in the past, with remote mountain mining operations and few full-time, long-term residents.
The County Commissioners recently rezoned a parcel of land from "residential" to "mining". The miners then petitioned for a hard rock mining permit. We have three concerns with this decision. First, the precedent set with the change in zoning is troubling. With over 2000 mining claims in this county, we are all at risk to lose all that we have worked for with our land, home values, to say nothing of the lifestyle and ecology that brought many of us here to live and work in the mountains. Second, the Commissioners went against the recommendations of the County Planning Department, the Planning Commission, and the wishes of the community by granting this rezoning, and made this decision under unclear priorities. Lastly, hard rock mining is different from placer mining. The changed permit and rezone allows the miners to utilize extensive blasting and different chemicals, changing the nature of their operation to more aggressive and invasive methods, which could lead to additional unforeseen complications.
This escalation in mining in our residential areas increases long and short term risks to the community. Some of the risks include surface water pollution, groundwater pollution, air pollution from dust and machinery, noise pollution, scarred landscape, disrupted wildlife patterns, decreased property values, decreased tourism, and reduced recreational opportunities, all of which make for significant negative changes in the quality of life for the residents of Park County. The miners will collect their gold, enjoy their television glory, and move on, leaving us to pick up the pieces of our community.
If you have read this far, thank you, and please consider a Donation or Get Involved - we welcome your contribution of money and/or time. Let's fight for our county, our way of life and the futures of our children.