Concurrent reclamation practices earn site major award

In December, the quarry in Golden, Colorado, was honored with the Outstanding Concurrent Reclamation accolade as a part of the Colorado Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s (CSSGA) 2022 Jack Starner Reclamation Awards program.

The awards, which the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board sponsors, celebrate outstanding reclamation of aggregate and construction material operations and further the collection and dissemination of information about successful reclamation techniques, according to CSSGA.

Director of Natural Resources James Sharn said it was a great honor to receive the award as it acknowledges the fantastic determination of the many people who work to restore the land during and after the quarry’s use.

“The award recognizes the hard work, pride and dedication of Martin Marietta employees who care about how they return the land to nature and the community,” Sharn said. “This is demonstrated in both the wildlife that utilizes the reclaimed ground and the many favorable comments we get from the surrounding community.”

The awards, put on annually by CSSGA, are in the memory of Jack Starner, who served on the Mined Land Reclamation Board and provided valuable guidance to the industry, local government and the environmental community in mined land reclamation.

And this is not the first time Martin Marietta has won awards for reclamation from CSSGA.

In recent years, the Parkdale Quarry team won the Enhancement of Reclamation through Community and Stakeholder Engagement Award, and the Taft Hill Sand and Gravel team Martin Marietta’s Specification Aggregates (Spec Agg) Quarry was recently recognized for its successful concurrent reclamation efforts. won the Outstanding Community Outreach and Education in the Benefits of Reclamation of Mined Lands recognition.

Sharn said honors like these are only made possible due to the continued dedication of those operating the quarries.

“All credit goes to operations,” he said. 

Luke Riemenschneider, plant manager at Spec Agg, agreed.

“It feels good because the crew here is constantly putting in the hard effort to reclaim this land, so to see the folks in the industry recognize them is just spectacular,” he said. “For us, reclamation is a daily agenda item. It is all about our guys doing the work, and it is great to have an upper management team that allows us to take this work so seriously.”

The Spec Agg team reclaims land concurrently to ensure the grounds are refreshed in specific areas while work continues in other areas.

“Spec Agg’s reclamation is unique in that all, or most, of the reclamation is performed concurrently with mining activities,” said Jeff Lines, area production manager. “Most operations wait until all mining is completed, or nearly completed, before beginning reclamation. When the Spec Agg crew mines along the boundary of the pit, dirt is immediately placed back in the mined void – many times within just a few weeks after being mined.”

Award winners are determined by a panel of experts who select sites that display outstanding environmental efforts. Russ Means, minerals program director for the Active Mines program at Colorado’s Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, serves on the panel and is the primary contact point for submissions. He said it is no surprise that Spec Agg was nominated – and ultimately selected – for this honor.

“The work Martin Marietta does to create a suitable environment for the wildlife here is amazing,” he said. “I’ve been out there many times and have seen elk, deer, birds, and other animals use the land, which is important for our area.”

He added that seeing a company that takes the reclamation process earnestly and seriously is powerful.

“Driving in the state and seeing previous sites along the I-70 corridor, there are some ugly scars that they left behind before there were any reclamation laws in place. But, with Martin Marietta, you’d have to look hard to see any residual impact. And really, that is quite incredible,” Means said.

That’s a fact Riemenschneider is incredibly proud of.

“Community and the visual impact we have is our top priority,” he said. “You can see our work from the interstate; people hike and bike on the trails we recreated. It’s great because people will come here on tour, and they’ll leave saying, ‘wow, I didn’t even know you all were here.’”

Means said Martin Marietta took over the quarry – which has been operating since 1974 – in 2011 and that the site has since become a “flagship example” of restoring the land to natural topography.

“We have around 1,400 total permitted sites here in Colorado, and we are constantly looking toward Spec Agg as an example of how every operation should operate,” he said. “This quarry goes far and above in their reclamation techniques, and it is our wish that all other quarries would operate to the same level as theirs.”