© Kelly Cox/post IndependentEvan Gould with Gould Construction shows off handfuls of the rich peat moss that the company hauled in from the Ziegler Reservoir excavation site in Snowmass Village. The company started out with 6,000 cubic yards for sale to gardeners, and still has 4,500 cubic yards available at its location south of Glenwood Springs.
It probably won't grow prehistoric mastodons or mammoths, but peat moss from the Ziegler Reservoir excavation site just might help produce a whopper crop of garden vegetables.

Glenwood Springs-based Gould Construction is selling peat soil excavated from the construction site, which became one of the world's largest fossil finds last fall after the preserved bones of numerous prehistoric mammals were discovered.

Before the find, Gould, which was the initial contractor on the construction site, was in charge of excavating and disposing of the material, explained Evan Gould, trucking supervisor and safety director for the company.

Most of that "material" was rich, black high-elevation peat moss. The deeper layers of the reservoir site ended up holding a virtual motherlode of ice age fossils. Thousands have since been removed and preserved by scientists working with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Rather than simply get rid of the dirt that was part of Gould's initial work, the company decided to make the peat moss available for sale to local gardeners and landscapers.

"This stuff is great for flower beds, gardens, any place where you want to grow things," Evan Gould said. "If you like to buy locally, and buy all-organic stuff that you know exactly where it came from, this is the best."

Last Tuesday, Gould set up a stand at the Glenwood Downtown Market, where sold $2 sample bags of the peat moss.

"We thought it would be fun to get down to the farmer's market and see if anyone is interested," Gould said. "By doing that, we figure we can get people to want more."

He said some people refer to the Snowmass peat as "dino dirt," "mammoth peat," or "black gold."

The company initially trucked about 6,000 cubic yards of the peat to its facility outside Glenwood Springs. They've since sold about 1,500 yards, leaving some 4,500 yards of the material left to sell.

Larger-scale gardeners or landscapers can purchase the peat moss for $25 per yard plus trucking costs if someone wants it delivered, or $35 per yard if they can haul it themselves, Gould said. Their own trucks can handle a load of about 10 yards, he said.

A screen plant is also set up on site to screen out rocks and, well, who knows what.

"So far we've been pretty much just word of mouth, but it's starting to catch on," he said. "Going to the farmer's market was really our only marketing scheme."

Gould said the company has sold top soil from some of its excavation sites in the past, "but this job was a once-in-a-lifetime thing," he said. "If we have something worth selling, rather than just get rid of it, we'll sell it."