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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

future.


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.

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