Federal regulators say operations can continue at a northwest Colorado coal mine under a plan that calls for the company to donate land for the greater sage grouse.
Lee Boughey, a spokesman for the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, said that the Interior Department is allowing the Colowyo Coal Company to continue working reserves in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties first leased from the Bureau of Land Management in 1982.
Colowyo Coal is a subsidiary of Tri-State, which supplies dozens of electric cooperatives and public power districts in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.
As part of the approved plan, Tri-State donated to Colorado 4,543 acres as habitat for the ground-dwelling bird whose numbers are declining. Boughey says the federal government's approval preserves more than 200 mining jobs.
The Colowyo Mine is one of the state’s largest surface coal production operations, according to Elk Ridge Mining and Reclamation. The mine produces over two million tons of low sulfur, subbituminous coal annually. Personnel at the mine use both draglines and truck and shovel operations for removing the overburden and extracting the coal.