By Daniel Smith
Mining was a big part of Fairplay’s past, but a recent mine expansion off Colo. Hwy. 9 has residents divided over its benefits versus concerns over environmental harm and change to the town’s character.
In addition, the fact that Discovery Channel’s “Gold Rush” reality TV series has been filming and aiding miners’ financing exacerbates the divisions.
A group of concerned residents, Save Park County (saveparkcountyco.org), alleges that Park County commissioners ignored citizens’ concerns, and questions whether proper procedures were followed in granting an expansion of the current mining operation by High Speed Mining, aided by the television show’s money from sponsors, including Volvo.
The group claims the county ignored the advice of its own planning commission when it approved rezoning an additional 28-acre, heavily wooded area zoned residential and dotted with homes for mining in August.
Save Park County’s co-chair, Fairplay businessman Trevor Messa, says the group filed a so-called 106 action, seeking an injunction to stop the mining and rezoning because of what they feel is an obvious incompatibility issue. The injunction was thrown out, due to procedural errors, Messa says, by a district judge who was formerly the county attorney.