Company wants to gather rocks from forest land
National forests are known for their timber production.
And in the Rocky Mountains, why not for their rock production, too?
The White River National Forest is considering a somewhat unusual proposal to let an Eagle County company collect loose rocks on about 23 acres near Marble for use in construction and landscaping.
The Gallegos Corp. wants to gather the rocks off a talus slope reached from Gunnison County Road 3, across the road from a private airstrip.
Skye Sieber, a National Environmental Policy Act coordinator on the White River National Forest, said the work would be an extension of what Gallegos already has been doing on private land in the area.
“They’ve pretty much gathered all they can in the area downslope,” she said.
Access would be from a private road. Rocks would be gathered by hand, placed on pallets and moved with a forklift onto a truck that would use temporary roads.
The roads would be seeded and regraded after completion. Sieber said the operation might involve about one truck trip per week.
Anywhere from zero to 1,244 tons are expected to be removed per year, with collection continuing for 30 years, subject to renewal of an annual permit.
The U.S. Forest Service plans to charge $13 per ton, a rate based on fair market value for the area.
Sieber said the land in question has a recreation designation under the White River forest plan.
That’s related to the nearby Crystal River’s eligibility for wild and scenic river status based on its designation as a recreation river. But the rock collecting wouldn’t occur in the river corridor, Sieber said.
“It doesn’t alter people’s abilities to visit the area and recreate in the area,” she said.
Frank Gutierrez, division president of Gallegos, said the project would have little public impact.
“We’ve been up there over 10 years, and most of the people never knew we were there,” he said.
Gutierrez said Gallegos is working on a lot of green projects in which customers want rocks obtained within a 500-mile radius. Its quarry near Marble helps meet that need.
The Forest Service plans to release an environmental assessment on the proposal by the end of the year.
Public comments are being accepted and will be most helpful if received by Friday. They should mailed to Skye Sieber, 0094 County Road 244, Rifle, CO, 81650; faxed to 625-2532, or e-mailed to
Call Sieber at 970-625-6864.