Alligators nab award for reclamation efforts at mine |

Alligators nab award for reclamation efforts at mine

Christine McManus
Special to the DailyPhotos of the Everist Materials gravel mine taken after the reclamation project show depleted ground transformed into a thriving wetland. Everist Materials, located north of Silverthorne, used plastic green alligators to scare away animals wanting to feast on the wetland plants.

SUMMIT COUNTY – A gravel mining operation north of Silverthorne has caught the attention of state officials for its use of alligators.

Engineers with the Colorado Division of Minerals and Geology said Everist Materials went “above and beyond” state requirements with reclamation efforts at a former gravel mine.

As part of mined land reclamation efforts, the inflatable, plastic green alligators scared away geese and ducks that wanted to feast on young wetland plants.

The mining company recently received a state-level award for its manmade wetlands near the Blue River north of Silverthorne.

Gravel mining employees of Everist Materials placed the alligators in the manmade wetlands between Highway 9 and the Blue River north of Silverthorne. The alligators were just one part of the effort to reclaim 31 acres of the 63-acre gravel-mining site since operations stopped six years ago. Hydrologists designed drainage systems to collect water and create ponds and wetlands.

“The Division of Wildlife gave us permission to use shotgun blasts to try to scare the geese away, but it wasn’t working,” said Greg Norwick, president of Everist Materials. “So we bought about 20 plastic alligators and tethered them down in strategic locations. It worked pretty well.”

About 50,000 wetlands plants in containers, 72 trees and 1,400 pounds of seeds were planted.

Now geese, deer, coyotes, smaller mammals, song birds and several species of fish have made use of the reclaimed land, said Erica Crosby, environmental protection specialist with the Division of Minerals and Geology.

The site is east of Everist’s current operations, which are on the west side of Highway 9. In about 15 years, Everist’s current gravel mining operation on 220 acres west of Highway 9 will also be reclaimed and possibly subdivided for houses on 17- to 35-acre lots.

Everist Company president Tom Everist said he might apply for annexation into Silverthorne, where he might be able to build one house per five acres.

On the already reclaimed land east of Highway 9, three buildings or houses eventually might be built on seven of the 63 acres. One house is under construction by the new owner of the property, Randy Winegard. The remaining acreage is ponds.

Everist Materials is waiting for final approval of its 31-acre reclamation project from the Army Corps of Engineers and Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board.

The Jack Starner Memorial Award is presented annually by the state to the best reclamation effort in the gravel mining industry.

The award is named for a mining operation owner who was on the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board. The award was presented to Everist Materials Nov. 14 at a conference of the Colorado Rock Products Association in Vail.

Everist Materials submitted one of the four nominations for the award.

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