The Johnstone Inn Christmas tree is once again shining bright all the way to the top thanks to San Miguel Power. We would like to extend a special thank you to Mike Morlang and Bart Reams for replacing bulbs and restringing strands, and to Jim Hubbs for bringing the big rig up from Nucla. Our evening strolls down main street are even more beautiful due to your generous efforts.
With warm thanks,
The Herrick Family
Forest Service Sets Record Straight on Silver Pick Basin
I appreciate the attention the Telluride Watch has devoted to the issues within Silver Pick Basin. So much has occurred in the past two years that it has become more challenging to separate and understand what has been proposed and what has actually happened.
A follow-up letter by Steve Johnson demonstrated a high level of concern, but included some misinformation. In particular:
"…a permit [was issued]…for modification to Silver Pick Road to allow travel by gold mining core drilling equipment and ore haulers."
The Forest Service sent a road use permit to Mr. Nichols in May of this year. It gave him permission to use a public road for private land access. It authorizes minor road maintenance only. The description of the work on page 1 of the permit states "No improvements or reconstruction to the road template (prism), ditching, culverts, drainage facilities, grading or rocking is provided for…" Supplemental page 1, clause 2-1 states "No mining equipment traffic, i.e., ore trucks, crawlers, loaders, other heavy equipment shall be permitted on the roadway on the Forest Service segments."
"…the applicant has announced plans to bring this equipment into Elk Creek Basin for a major mining operation at this location that may ultimately connect to Silver Pick Basin."
Mr. Nichols is subject to State and Federal approval processes. Proclaiming intent does not necessarily mean the Forest Service will allow the proposal.
"The Forest Service made the decision to approve changes to Silver Pick Road without public comment or environmental review."
The Forest Service issued a routine road use permit for residential access and exploratory drilling, with no authorization for road construction, reconstruction or improvements.
"San Miguel County also claims jurisdiction over this portion of the Silver Pick Road, but it was not consulted by the United States Forest Service prior to issuing the permit."
The Board of County Commissioners was notified on May 1.
"The permit required that work be performed and completed this September."
The permit was never signed by Mr. Nichols and has expired.
"Mr. Nichols…has requested a multi-year permit."
The Forest Service has not received a road use application with this information.
"Since Andy's article went to press, the Western Mining Action Project (WMAP), which represents the Telluride Mountain Club, Colorado Mountain Club, and Sheep Mountain Alliance among others, announced that the Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre Forest Supervisor's office [sic] has stated that the Forest Service will perform an environmental assessment this winter to evaluate issues with respect to the road modifications before issuance of a final permit."
Mr. Nichols will have to submit an application and demonstrate that his proposal is reasonable use of public land before an environmental assessment will be considered.
"The Telluride Mountain Club has asked the San Miguel County Board of County Commissioners to conduct a work session with the goal of getting the County and the Forest Service to agree to future coordination on permits to work on Silver Pick Road on stretches where both the Forest Service and County claim jurisdiction."
This is planned for late January or early February 2007.
Finally, I commend the work the Telluride Mountain Club, the Colorado Mountain Club and The Access Fund are doing to re-establish the traditional access to Wilson Peak. This, of course, is another issue! I believe we will all benefit by working together to provide accurate information and make it available to users.
In Case of Emergency
The Telluride Institute would like to thank all the Noel Night shoppers who stopped and purchased emergency kits and supplies for themselves and as gifts for friends and family. The unfortunate incidents on the West Coast show just how important it is to be prepared.
We will continue to offer a range of emergency kits and products throughout the holiday season and beyond. If you didn't get a chance to stop by Noel Night, please call 728-8312 for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd like to see every one of us ready for the emergencies we're likely to encounter, including being cut off by avalanche or severe weather, earthquakes and mudslides.
Special thanks to Jennifer Dinsmore, our San Miguel County Emergency Manager for all her help with this project. It's good to know we have her skills working to help us in case a disaster strikes.