Plans have materialized for a project east of Gunnison which would utilize the geothermal resource at Waunita Hot Springs Ranch for its heat- and power-generating potential.
An application filed with Gunnison County proposes a 161,000-square-foot geothermally powered, hydroponic greenhouse to grow natural and organic vegetables on property now owned by the Pringle family. The property is under contract to be purchased by Charles Barr of San Francisco, Calif.
His company, Waunita Ranch LLC, intends to purchase the current ranch, which would be leased to Spring Born Inc., another company owned by Barr, for the purpose of building and operating the greenhouse.
According to the application, Waunita Hot Springs Ranch encompasses approximately 212 acres, eight of which are used for the current guest resort. The greenhouse — itself proposed to occupy the area of nearly three football fields — as well as infrastructure and road access would cover about five acres.
According to the application, the greenhouse’s planned hydroponic growing systems yield eight times the per-acre production and reduce water use by 75 percent as compared to traditional farming. The geothermal resource would support heating of the greenhouse for year-round growing with minimal expense, the applicants say.