Wildlife area in Windsor to be closed for gravel mining
Residents will no longer be able to access the Frank State Wildlife Area located about two miles east of Interstate 25 within the Town of Windsor. The gravel company, Hall-Irwin Construction, owns a significant portion of the area — about 116 acres — and will start mining on the land this summer.
The mining and reclamation process will take up to five years to complete, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The organization sent the release Friday after the Windsor Beacon requested information about some access points to the wildlife area being fenced off.
"There's not really anything in dispute. It's just them (Hall-Irwin) exercising their right to the property," Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said. "This is not uncommon. Throughout the state, a lot of conservation areas have evolved from places that used to be rock mining gravel pits."
Hall-Irwin and the company performing the mining, Bestway Concrete and Aggregate, did not respond to the Windsor Beacon's request for a comment.
Windsor resident Rebecca Bickham and her four children live in the Ridge West community just southwest of the Frank State Wildlife Area. Bickham and her family frequently kayak, fish and recreate on the land, and she was disappointed no community meetings were held to discuss its closing.
"I think one of the things that's most startling about seeing Frank State Wildlife Area being converted is that we bought our home because the Poudre River Trail and the conservation area were nearby," Bickham said. "I'm shocked that a state wildlife area is not a protected area."
The Poudre River Trail and the portion of the wildlife area south of the Poudre River will not be closed as the mining project gets underway. Larimer and Weld counties also have 24 other state wildlife areas that are open to recreation including angling and hunting.
After the mining project is complete, Windsor and the state will decide who should take care of the area. The town is pursuing the ability to monitor and maintain the property for hunting, fishing and wildlife-related recreation.
Part of the land the Frank State Wildlife Area sits on has been owned by Hall-Irwin since 1995, said Melissa Chew, Windsor's director of parks, recreation and culture. Some mining has been done already in the area but not as much as possible.
"When these conservation easements were granted years ago, they were granted with the idea that gravel mining was a reserved right, she said. "Through the reclamation process, you create additional wildlife habitats and/or recreational opportunities."
Hall-Irwin will drain the ponds on the property, mine for as much gravel as possible, and then restore Frank State Wildlife Area. The area encompasses about 374 acres, Chew said.