EPA orders Elam Construction to mitigate damage to Yampa River Wetlands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a compliance order to Elam Construction, and 4B Land and Livestock for impacts to wetlands at the gravel mine site adjacent to the Yampa River, according to a news release issued by the EPA on Tuesday afternoon.

The EPA reports the companies’ actions were conducted without a required Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Elam, a Grand Junction-based company, operates at 1848 E. First St. on land owned by 4B, a company owned by Scott and Sheila Brennise, of Craig.

The EPA’s order requires Elam Construction, and 4B Land and Livestock to develop and implement a mitigation plan that compensates for impacts to the wetlands.

While specific projects have not been determined, the EPA may consider proposals to restore, create, enhance or preserve wetlands, according to the release.

Prior to undertaking the work, the companies must submit the plan to the agency for approval.

Sheila Brennise said Tuesday that Elam, as the lessee of the land, is responsible for the violation as well as the mitigation.

A spokesperson for Elam could not be reached by press time Tuesday.

In October 2009, the corps conducted an inspection at Elam’s Craig site and observed that multiple piles of excavated shale material, as well as a portion of a berm created to keep flood flows out of the gravel pit, had been placed within an area that contained delineated wetlands, according to the release. The corps determined the area of impacted wetlands as .78 of an acre.

A mining plan submitted to the corps on behalf of the parties indicated the intent to mine gravel in the wetlands without the placement of any fill, thereby avoiding the need for a Clean Water Act permit, according to the release.

Subsequent communications from the corps stated that wetlands existed at the site and the discharge of dredged or fill material during mining was likely.

According to the EPA, Elam Construction has had experience with the act and the Corps permitting program since 1980, including three prior permits and at least one known prior violation.

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