CB open house first of many engagement opportunities
[ By Mark Reaman ]
The Mt. Emmons Mining Company (MEMC) held a public open house at the Crested Butte town hall last week to gather some feedback on steps being taken to eventually eliminate the potential for further mining on Mt. Emmons while protecting water quality in Coal Creek. Efforts are underway to facilitate a federal land trade allowing MEMC (a subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan) to easier control water treatment plant improvements and also implement a mineral withdrawal to eliminate mining on Red Lady.
About 45 people attended the event and seven MEMC representatives were there to answer questions from the public and record feedback.
“We received general questions from attendees about how MEMC will address the community’s interest in permanently extinguishing commercial mining from the Keystone Mine and establish permanent recreational access to the top of Mt. Emmons,” explained Freeport-McMoRan external communications manager Jim Telle. “This will occur in coordination with the Crested Butte Land Trust for certain of the lands proposed to be acquired as part of the land exchange. A wide variety of questions focused on the land exchange, the proposed conservation easement, the mineral extinguishment agreement, and water needs associated with the site were discussed.”
Telle said MEMC received positive input regarding the lands the USFS will receive in the proposed exchange. While much of the traded land is over Ohio Pass by Carbon Mountain and not in the Crested Butte watershed, he said watershed boundaries are but one of many factors utilized in selecting lands for an exchange.
“MEMC worked with the U.S. Forest Service to include lands that meet USFS exchange criteria and administrative priorities,” he said. “We received formal acceptance of the project proposal in mid-February and are working within the U.S. Forest Service feasibility analysis process. These are USFS requirements prior to the commencement of any formal exchange processes.”
The hope is to complete the land exchange in early 2023. Under the federal land exchange process, the next steps are completion, review and approval of the feasibility analysis, which then would enable the formal ‘Agreement to Initiate the Land Exchange’ to occur. “We are hopeful that occurs by mid-2022,” said Telle. “MEMC has committed to a robust stakeholder engagement process to include a series of future events in Crested Butte and Gunnison as the process continues. Events will be advertised in the newspaper.”