Gold, silver mining plan makes Ouray County commissioners nervous

Ouray County commissioners are wary of a plan to conduct exploratory gold and silver drilling in one of the most scenic areas of Colorado – Yankee Boy Basin near both the San Juan Mountain towns of Telluride and Ouray.

Yankee Boy Basin
Yankee Boy Basin

The Telluride Watch reported this week the Mt. Sneffels Mining Co., already operating the Ruby Trust Mine on private land in the area, has filed a notice of intent with both the state and the U.S. Forest Service to conduct a three-year exploratory drilling operation on 145 acres of private land and 550 acres of unpatented mining claims on Forest Service land in the famous basin and nearby Sneffels Creek drainage.

Intended to assess the feasibility of expanding the existing mine, the exploration would occur on the south side of spectacular 14,150-foot Mount Sneffels, which is on the eastern edge of the more than 16,000-acre Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area.

“This could potentially be a very contentious and interesting issue to a number of people, particularly to the City of Ouray, because it could be a disruption for a period of three to four years of the tourism activity up in Yankee Boy Basin,” Ouray County commissioner Keith Meinert said.

Yankee Boy Basin has a long mining history but in modern times is more famous for backcountry skiing, wildlife and wildflower photography, hiking and Jeeping. Mount Sneffels, named for a mountain in the Jules Verne novel “A Journey to the Center of the Earth,” is one of the most iconic peaks in all of Colorado and very familiar to anyone driving to the ski town of Telluride.

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