Owner of illegal gravel pit hit with quarter-million dollar fine
A Collbran gravel pit owner is to pay a $255,000 fine as part of a settlement agreement over allegations it was partially operating on federal land without permission, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
Currier Gravel Pit is to pay that amount after the office filed a trespassing case against it on suspicion of operating a 9-acre mining pit on Bureau of Land Management property near Collbran, said John Walsh, U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado.
The office said the company and its current owner, Merial I. Currier, operated the pit without obtaining the necessary authority from the BLM to remove and sell sand and gravel.
The company had been doing it since 1991 until the practice was ended in 2010, Walsh said.
“The BLM manages the public’s land for the benefit of the public,” said John Mehlhoff, acting BLM state director. “This settlement reaffirms the importance of people understanding where public land boundaries are and having the proper permits to operate on public land.”
Walsh and Mehlhoff said the company also constructed a 4-acre reservoir on the Collbran land.
Walsh said the company had removed an estimated 153,000 tons of sand and gravel, more than 300 million pounds, and sold it over that time.
In addition to the settlement amount, the agreement also calls on the company to ensure that reclamation is performed for the damage to the land, and to withdraw an Interior Board of Land appeal contesting the BLM’s ownership of the land.
The company has denied allegations that it trespassed on BLM land, and the settlement shouldn’t be construed as an admission of liability, wrongdoing or guilt, Walsh’s office said.