Golden Mine blasting plan raises fossil concerns

Deborah Grigsby
dgrigsby@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/2/22

A local environmental group has always suspected there’s been more to the Dakota Hogback than just clay — and they might be right. There could be prehistoric turtle tracks and other paleontological artifacts.

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Golden Mine blasting plan raises fossil concerns

Posted

A local environmental group has always suspected there’s been more to the Dakota Hogback than just clay — and they might be right.

There could be prehistoric turtle tracks and other paleontological artifacts.

The Denver Brick Company, which applied last year to expand operations at its Golden Mine, has now come under a spotlight for its plan to conduct blasting operations along the Dakota Hogback, just north of the City of Golden.

And that has the attention of more than just locals.

It has the attention of state archeologists.

Protect the Hogback board member Mike Rawluk said his group was aware the company intended to expand its mining operation but not, until recently, to use blasting techniques to extract clay.

Rawluk said Protect the Hogback has exchanged correspondence with History Colorado regarding ancient fossils in the area of the Golden Mine and the possible risk presented to them by blasting.

He said a letter to the State Land Board from State Archaeologist Dr. Holly Kathryn Norton suggests interest in the scientific value of the area. In the letter, Norton recommends special efforts such as casting and collection be accomplished should the company engage in any blasting or mining expansion activities that would create ground disturbances within 50 feet of identified paleontological locations.

The exact locations of such sites are protected by law and not made public to prevent damage and looting.

Rawluk says he is hopeful the state will continue its efforts to prevent any undiscovered fossils and ancient artifacts from being disturbed or destroyed.

The Dakota Hogback is located just north of the city on Highway 93, across from the North Table Mountain recreation area.

In 2011, then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated the 19-acre Golden Fossil Areas west and north of Golden as a national natural landmark. As a result, the area is now known as the Morrison-Golden Fossil Areas National Natural Landmark.

“The Golden Fossil Areas are among the most important paleontological sites in the Front Range and the western United States,” the statement said. “They are known internationally as the only sites in the world to have produced a number of unique fossil footprints representing reptiles, birds, and mammals.”

Protect the Hogback was granted a hearing with the State Land Board on March 31 but was notified a few days prior that the hearing would be delayed for the third time.

In a letter to the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, Environmental Alternatives, Inc. requested the decision date for the mining permit be delayed from March 31 to May 31, 2022.

No reason was given in the letter.

If you’d like to learn more about Protect the Hogback and the proposed Golden Mine expansion, Rawluk said the Cannonball Creek Brewery is hosting a social event for the group, noon to 5 p.m. on May 14 at 393 Washington Ave. in Golden.

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