MONTROSE, Colo. (KREX) — Monday night the Montrose County commissioners held a special meeting to discuss a potential gravel pit on Franklin Mesa. Over 300 people showed up to listen to the Commissioners question Leadership Circle LLC’s proposed gravel pit plan.

What is the Montrose gravel pit debate all about?

If you live in Grand Junction or anywhere else on the Western Slope there’s a good chance you don’t know anything about the proposed gravel mining operation up on Franklin Mesa, which is northwest of Montrose.

It’s a large deposite, high quality material and a relativily un-populated haul route directly to the highway.

Matt Miles, sole land owner, Leadership Circle LLC

Matt Miles is the property owner who wants to build a gravel mining operation on the land highlighted below. Right now there’s a very small gravel pit on the land, but the proposed gravel pit would be over 100 acres.

A map that highlights Miles’ land and where the gravel pit would be.

We’re very concerned about it because this area is subject to landslides.

Bob Stechert, President of the Eagle Heights Homeowners Association

Bob Stechert lives in the Eagle Heights subdivision, right on Lone Eagle road. He told KREX many of the homes in Eagle Heights are built on shakey soil, to begin with. Stechert and his neighbors are concerned a gravel mining operation on the mesa could compromise their homes. The USGS landslide survey shows most of Eagle Heights in a level 2 probable landslide area.

The yellow area is a level two probable landslide area.

Landslides were only one of the concerns Montrose Citizens raised to KREX.

What happened at the Montrose County Commissioner’s meeting?

Well, first of all, it was a special hearing, but County Commissioners questioned Miles and his team about their gravel pit plan. They raised many of the concerns people living by the gravel pit had. Starting with the transportation of trucks, to which a member of Miles’ team answered, “[the roads] were designed for trucks of the size and number that could result from this use.” Then concerns about the dust and particles that arise during the mining process. One woman who attended the meeting told KREX she had concerns about the dust affecting her health, as she has a prior condition. In a Zoom interview on Tuesday, Miles told KREX, “we will be very careful to mitigate any fugitive dust or odors.”

Then, of course, the all-important landslide issue. Engineer and Owner of Lambert & Associates Daniel Lambert said during the meeting, “It is my opinion that the proposed gravel mining operation will not negatively impact the theoretical stability of the slopes.” Lambert & Associates completed a subsurface conditions study of the land the proposed gravel pit would be on. But not everyone agrees with that statement. Stechert told KREX both the U.S. and Colorado Geological Survey, “identified the sides of the slopes here as being subject to landslides and unstable soil.” Also, in a letter to the Montrose County Commissioners Mike Henderson, a professor of mining engineering at Colorado School of Mines disagrees with Lambert & Associates’ claim because in their survey they were not asked to evaluate any geological hazards.

A list of the services provided by Lambert & Associates in the Dec. 2022 report.

What’s next?

So who’s right? Well, that’s up to the Montrose County Commissioners to decide after they finish questioning Miles and his company about their proposed plan, which will continue on March 27th. The public is welcome to attend.