trespasser fined $255,000 for unauthorized removal and sale of sand and gravel from public land
DENVER – Today, the United States Attorney for the District of Colorado, John F. Walsh, announces the recovery of $255,000 as part of a settlement of allegations that Merial I. Currier and Currier Gravel Pit, Inc. operated a gravel mining pit on public land, without obtaining authorization from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The United States alleges that Currier trespassed on BLM-administered land, as follows. Between 1991 and 2010, Currier operated a 9-acre gravel mining pit on BLM-administered public land near Collbran, Colorado, located in the NE1/4 of the SE1/4 of Section 12, Township 9 South, Range 93 West of the Sixth Principal Meridian, Colorado. Currier operated this pit without ever obtaining the necessary authorization from the BLM to remove and sell sand and gravel from the pit. Currier removed an estimated 153,439 short tons of sand and gravel -- over 300 million pounds -- and sold it. The United States alleges Currier or her predecessor in interest, Carleton Currier, also constructed a 4-acre reservoir on BLM land near Colbran, again without any permission or authorization from the BLM.
“Taking minerals from public land without a permit harms the people of the United States,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “If you do it, there will be swift and certain consequences.”
“The BLM manages the public’s land for the benefit of the public. This settlement reaffirms the importance of people understanding where public land boundaries are and having the proper permits to operate on public land,” said Colorado Acting Assoc. State Director John Mehlhoff.
A settlement was reached whereby Currier will pay $255,000 for the estimated 153,439 short tons of sand and gravel that Currier removed and sold. In addition to the monetary settlement, Currier also agreed to ensure that reclamation is performed for the damaged land and to dismiss an appeal contesting the United States’ ownership of the trespassed land that she had previously filed with the Interior Board of Land Appeals.
Currier has denied the allegations of trespass. The settlement agreement shall not be construed as an admission of liability, wrongdoing, or guilt on the part of Currier.
This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Rocque.