To The Editor: Is this property developer littering the river with boulders?

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In the past couple of weeks, I’ve received more than a few requests to look into a Moonridge-area property development not far from Parker Dam, and some accusations that the contractors grading the hillside are allowing rocks and large boulders to land in the Colorado River.

So, the other day I drove up there to see for myself and get some photographs from the other side of the river. The property is pretty big, and is clearly being graded for a large development. It’s a beautiful area and I can see why it would be some prime real estate. As it turns out, the development is being called Ski Alley Resort, incorporated in the state of Arizona back in 2013.

As I was driving away – BOOM! – a huge explosion went off, sending rocks flying in a controlled detonation of the hillside. These guys aren’t wasting any time.

And yes, there are boulders in the water; one in particular that looks like a little island near the shoreline. So what are the laws on this stuff, and who is responsible?

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First, the law: Typically, anything going below the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) – in other words, anything that intrudes into the river beyond the shoreline, like docks, swimming platforms, fishing piers, boat lifts, walls, etc. – requires a federal permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and those permits are issued under pretty strict conditions. So, the developer would definitely have required a permit to put any boulders in the Colorado River.

This means that the real question is: Did the developer have a permit, and do the authorities know what’s going on?

Parker Live spoke with Bill Miller at the United States Army Corps of Engineers, who is the regulator in charge of the river on the Parker Strip.

“The boulders that had fallen into the river did not have a permit. The contractor did not have a permit to allow for such a thing,” Miller said. “However, when those boulders did fall in, it was accidental on their part and they did contact the Corps to request authorization to be able to retrieve the boulders.”

It turns out that this is an ongoing process involving the Corps of Engineers and Ski Alley, where the groups are working together to resolve any issues. The Corps takes the preservation of the Parker Strip pretty seriously, and it seems Ski Alley does too. But they’re not the only ones involved:

“We did work with them to issue them a permit [to remove the boulders], but during that process we discovered that there is other work that had been done on the shoreline of the Colorado River that should also have had a permit from the Corps,” Miller said. “So we’re now working with the Ski Alley personnel to identify exactly how much of an impact was associated with that work and to get them in compliance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The process is ongoing and no additional permits have been issued at this time.”

So, for those worrying about developers running amok, acting outside the law, it seems the Corps is involved and a new development is coming that cares about the area it’s coming to.

And for anyone who would run amok? There are some pretty gnarly penalties, up to a maximum criminal fine of $50,000 per day and imprisonment for up to three years. Ouch.

JW

UPDATE 5/6/2016: Looks like a solution has been found.

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21 comments

  1. Katrina Marie Woodward

    When I saw them building something huge up there it broke my heart. Because I rode the bus every day for 9 years from big river to parker dam when I was in elementary school and seeing them take the whole hillside and seeing their trail where a bobcat was right at the bottom of the river. I hope they didn’t disturb any wildlife up there either :/

  2. Joe Sena

    It’s true, I have pictures

  3. Maggie Alcaida Lee

    Shouldn’t they have been given a “cease and desist order” until all issues are satisfied?

  4. Jim Wooddell

    Accidents just don’t happen, they are caused.

  5. Glad you were there for the big boom!

  6. Angela Nez

    Army Corps of Engineers

  7. Alan Wilson

    I think they should be fined and stop permit issued. They are putting way to much hazardous rock in the river.

  8. Jo Ellen Coleman Smith

    We were there mid October and it was going on. It was awful to see all the crap falling in the river. It’s all about the $$$$$

  9. Lois Jungers

    I’m glad someone is paying attention!! Ty

  10. This development is totally out of control. Damage is being done to local homes from blasts and no return calls from La Paz county Development who issued the grading permit in regards to the damage.

    If the developer “cared” so much, then why didn’t he get a permit vs proceedding with the total destruction of this Mountain and reckless damage and disregard for the river until AZGF reported him to Army Corps? . This article is so weighed to the contractor its not funny and not close to the facts.

  11. I’ve never even met the contractor! This was specifically about the boulder in the river situation, not about anything else that may or may not be going on. (In fact, if you have proof of anything else that’s an ongoing concern, send it over and we’ll take a look.)

  12. Most of the boulders in the water were put there intentionally. If they had a permit they would know that under permit ( if you get one) you can only put in 1 cubic yard of rock per linear foot measured at high water ie 19,000 CFS. The entire rock wall that has been built is in the river WAY beyond those stats. This wasnt an accident and IMO neither was blowing up the Mt into the River.

    Why not so a story on the home damage being done in the neighboring communities. Ceilings and wall cracks happening at an alarming rate. Who going to pay to fix the homes? They didn’t post a bond as I understand it.

  13. As I said, send me something about that and we’ll cover it.

  14. In August they had a generator at the river’s edge pulling water from the river for weeks. I took pictures and video

  15. Question: What about the river water? They’ve had a humongous pump for months sucking river water…are they paying for it? Is that legal? Typically you hire a subcontractor who waters your construction site. Is there a permit from the CORE? That may be a naive question but who else locally regulates that? The representative and his team are in Tuscon if I’m not mistaken.

  16. Kendra V. Hamel

    They are ruining the landscape! That’s one of the nicest stretches of land right before the damn.

  17. Why doesn’t everyone quit whining about things that they don’t know about (like if he has permits,etc…) and try and be great full that someone is bringing in money and jobs etc… For the locals!!! God knows you could use it!!!

  18. If they are blasting the mountain, they should also have a permit from ADOT with traffic control to stop vehicles from entering at the time of the explosion.

  19. Talk to the HOA at Polonysian shores 1&2 they have made several complaints.
    Tried twice to get ahold of the insurance company of the developers with no return calls?
    They have cement Dock damage they can show you!!
    Also give you information on who they tried to contact .

  20. this is a rock and it should say a rock this rock wall look like hell and if that a fix give me a break without the boulders it is a cool look I would sell the boulders to the landscaper butt now the donkey out of the gate

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