County Commissioner Heidi Albritton said that “Plan A” should be to realign County Road 361 passing through the old mining camp so as to route traffic away from the historic buildings that have been the target of vandalism over the past year.
The road can’t be rerouted, however, until or unless the county can convince Federal Resources, Corp. to cooperate. And as Commissioner Mike Fedel noted at a recent meeting where the matter was first broached, “That pond’s been poisoned by past legal action,” referring to a 2007 law suit where the county successfully asserted that County Road 361 is a public right of way after Federal Resources put a gate across it to keep the public out of the deserted mining camp that it owns.
The heavily traveled road provides a popular short cut to Imogene Pass.
Fedel had been tasked with contacting Federal Resources CEO Scott Butters to discuss the matter, but Fedel was not present at the work session due to a conflicting meeting. In the meantime, those present discussed other options that could be put into effect immediately to stem the tide of destruction faced by the historic buildings, before the summer jeeping season gets fully underway.
Meeting attendees included a representative of a regional four-wheeler enthusiast group, the Ouray County Historical Society, the Ouray County Road and Bridge Department, and a county resident who has taken an interest in the matter on behalf of some private donors who wish to remain anonymous while helping to save the historic buildings.
The group agreed to immediately implement a multi-faceted action plan that includes signage, hidden surveillance cameras, improved fencing and other physical deterrents along the county right of way to discourage motorists from trespassing and damaging the buildings.
The matter of signage remains a sticky one, due to the fact that Federal Resources owns the buildings and the land they sit on. Federal Resources has indicated it has no interest in stabilizing, improving or maintaining the structures. Thus, it would not be appropriate for the county to put up “No Trespassing” signs for (or on) property it does not own.
The Ouray County Historical Society proposed putting up some interpretive signage along County Road 361 at overlooks on either side of the lower Camp Bird Mine to help people understand and respect the historic nature of the site, to emphasize that it is private property, and to encourage those who witness acts of vandalism to contact the Ouray County Sheriff Department.
Commissioner Lynn Padgett suggested augmenting this plan by creating physical deterrents to public access to the area – for example, limiting proximal parking areas.
Members of the group will conduct a site visit to the lower Camp Bird Mine this Thursday, June 7 to finalize the details of their plan.