Board of County Commissioners' Speech
This speech was shared at the Board of County Commissioners' meeting for Archuleta County, Feb 2023, on behalf of the Upper San Juan River Allies.
A Better Process Is Needed
Hi, my name is Tony Baker. I am a full-time resident of San Juan
River Village community. Thank you for allowing me to speak.
There have been numerous objections to the proposed gravel pit on
Jackson Mountain is less than 2,000 feet from the San Juan River Village
community. I agree with those who oppose the pit due to health, safety,
wildlife, and economic concerns that have been enumerated, but I want
to bring up something else before the commissioners that should be of
vital concern to everyone. I want to expand on conversations we had
over commissioners weeks ago where we identified the need for
strategic planning in our county. The strategy/process that has been
used by Archuleta County in selecting the three recent potential gravel
pit sites is obviously broken and, more aptly, non-existent.
The sites were selected in private and kept quiet. Once the affected
public finally became aware of the sites, they were understandably
frustrated with really no recourse other than to seek legal assistance
and go to battle. The amount of time and money spent to try to head off
these behind-the-scenes gravel pit site selections shouldn't have to
happen. We spent many hours protecting those affected in our community.
There needs to be a reasonable, transparent, and forward-looking
process by the county to find viable gravel sources now and into the
No one is arguing the need for gravel for adequate road maintenance. I
believe this recent attempt to put a gravel pit on Jackson Mountain
within the SJRV neighborhood will eventually fail. With this latest failed
attempt, I hope that Archuleta County Commissioners will finally come
together and initiate a strategic planning process that enlists public
input, and yes, even public debate over the criteria for selection. The
criteria should include not just access to a cheaper gravel source but,
proximity to neighborhoods, impact on wildlife, impact on public safety,
and a thorough cost-benefit analysis.
In 1997 there was a comprehensive study by Ft Lewis College in
conjunction with NFS and Archuleta County to assess and rank the
sources of gravel within the county. Maybe the county and NFS should
re-enlist the college to assist in updating this 3rd party study as a
starting point while including the added dimension of proximity to
neighborhoods, wildlife, and traffic safety, and whatever criteria are determined to be appropriate. We suggest getting public input on the
criteria for selecting a gravel pit and weighing the alternatives publicly. Let's learn from these failures and put the effort in to create a process
going forward. I call upon the members of this board to take the next
hard steps in creating a transparent process for selecting the next
gravel pit sites. Thank you again for your time and consideration.