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PikeView Quarry begins the final step of reclamation, planting 31,000 trees

Posted at 7:46 AM, Apr 26, 2024

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The final phase of reclamation is underway at the PikeView Quarry on the northwest side of Colorado Springs. Mayor Yemi Mobolade visited the site for the first time Thursday and saw the first trees planted on land that used to be a working mine.

Sixteen years after the first slide at the PikeView Quarry indicated a need for a change, the owner of the quarry, Ron Gidwitz planted a Ponderosa Pine on the site — a ceremonial start of the final phase of the reclamation of this land. Only 31, 444 more trees to go.

The work to reclaim this quarry fell into three phases. The first was to fill a 200-foot hole to stabilize the mountain and rebuild the slope from the bottom up. To prevent future slides, engineers with Stantec created underground trench drains that allow water to flow through the mountain to the Douglas Watershed. Then crews added 150 feet of slope. Now we're at the final step — covering the scar with topsoil and working with the Department of Forestry, a contractor will plant native trees, shrubs and grasses by hand to blend into the natural landscape.

Jerry Schnabel works for Castle Aggregates, a subsidiary of Riverbend Industries. He has overseen the transformation here for more than two decades.

"It's pleasant to see the mayor up here and support this. In our first meeting, he thought it was, you know, on the 10-year horizon. It's really going to be a one-year horizon," Schanbel said.

Once the trees and shrubs are in, Riverbend has to monitor its site for a year before asking the state and Division of Mine Safety to check the work is done. That's when it can offer these 150 acres to the city as a donation of park land.

"If at that point in time, our city leadership accepts it, then we'll move forward the public process so that we can start to understand what that opportunity might be and hear the concerns the vision, the ideas, and really just a wide spectrum of that from the community," David Deitemeyer, the city's landscape architect, said the popular choice in a 2014 survey was to turn this into a mountain bike park. But he said it'll be a while before we know what this land will turn into.

"What we can tell you though, is that the recreation within Colorado Springs has increased in use the demand for trails, parks, sporting areas, open spaces, all of that has significantly increased. And so we need to find those opportunities to enhance recreational opportunities in Colorado Springs," Deitemeyer said.

Standing with a view of the quarry his family has owned for 50 years behind him, Gidwitz commented on how the relationship between the quarry and the city has been one of love and hate. The limestone mined here built the city. But residents residents who lived nearby have long complained about the explosions on the property and the dirt and dust the trucks generated going to and from the quarry. He hopes that now it is being reclaimed by his company with the goal of donating the land, it can now be looked upon with love.

"This is going to be an extraordinary piece of work that will look as natural as it could possibly be and we would guess that many of the big horn sheep that have made homes here over the years will continue to propogate themselves and hopefully not eat our foilage… at least not until it's grown to maturity," Gidwitz said.

Planting begins Friday and is expected to wrap up by the Fourth of July. A team of 25 laborers will begin working in pairs to plant shrubs, grasses and trees over the next few months. It will likely be a year before they start to fill in and residents will be able to tell a difference from looking at the quarry from a distance.

Final phase of reclamation begins at the PikeView Quarry