Summit County looks at new uses for landfill site
Summit County, CO Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado – Used to be the dump was the place that you, well, dumped your trash.
No so anymore, at least not in Summit County, where local officials are considering a slew of other uses for the 465-acre parcel on the shale bluffs above the Snake River.
“There might be a better place for garbage,” said assistant county manager Thad Noll, explaining that the county commissioners will tour the property in early August in advance of the rezoning process. During the tour, the commissioners will hear about some of the other activities already occurring on the property, as well as some possible new uses that could be proposed in the future.
Sometime after the site visit, the county – like any other property owner – will formally apply for the rezoning, leading to series of public hearings with the Snake River planning commission and a decision by the county commissioners.
Already now, local recycling experts have started a commercial composting operation on part of the property, converting wood chips from beetle-killed trees to a potent soil enhancer. Until recently, Breckenridge Nordic Center operator Gene Dayton was running a log-lathing operation at the landfill, while other areas are being used for motorized recreation and even as a shooting and archery range.
“We’re going to look at it all and try to figure out what should be out there,” Noll said. “The rezoning won’t specify where things should be, only what could go on. Subsequent proposals for other uses would be subject to a site-specific review upon application,” he added.
There could be plenty of room for various activities. At present, only about 80 acres are being used for garbage, although another large garbage “cell” is slated to open later this year.
Some of the ideas that have surfaced include an area for community gardens, as well as a site for wind turbines. An ongoing study of wind conditions in the area may show that the location is suitable for local generation of electricity.
“Theoretically, you couldn’t put a wind farm there right now,” Noll said. “Before we start using it bit by bit, we want to take a look at the whole area.”
Parts of the huge landfill parcel encompass scenic brush-covered hillsides, aspen groves and fringes of forest, mostly lodgepole pine stands that have been killed by pine beetles.
With intensive management of waste, including targeted recycling and composting, officials hope to extend the life of the landfill and reduce the need to develop new areas for disposal. If those efforts are successful, some of the property could be preserved for other, more valuable, uses.
“There probably aren’t too many people that want to see dump trucks rolling through the sage fields,” Noll said.
Part of the management equation includes the recent controversial proposal to develop a system of motorized trails on Tenderfoot Mountain. A local group of riders is working with the U.S. Forest Service to come up with a trail plan that addresses community concerns about damage to wetlands, noise, impacts on wildlife and trail safety issues.
Much of the trail system would be on National Forest land, but the current trailhead for motorized use is on county property. Through the rezoning, the county could consider whether motorized use is appropriate on part of the landfill parcel, Noll said.