Hi Friends of the Colorado River!
The Colorado River and the Holy Cross Wilderness, just west of Denver, are again under threat by the Cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs. Recall, a few months ago, we ask you to contact Congressman Joe Neguse and encourage him to engage with the U.S. Forest Service to disallow building a dam in and near the Wilderness Area that would further drain the headwaters of the Colorado River. Well, the U.S. Forest Service didn’t listen to you or to Congressman Neguse’s opposition.
The Cities are now proposing to construct a new reservoir called Whitney Reservoir to store additional water diverted from Homestake Creek and its tributaries in the Holy Cross Wilderness. As a first step, they have applied to the U.S. Forest Service for a special use permit to drill geotechnical test holes up to 150 feet deep at ten different sites to determine the best location for the dam for the new proposed reservoir. The work would include constructing new roads to access the drill sites.
To develop the reservoir project, the Cities have proposed that approximately 500 acres of land near the proposed reservoir be taken out of the Holy Cross Wilderness. This is a direct assault on the Wilderness Area and a dangerous precedent for all Wilderness Areas across the nation. Further, if the project is built, it could drain nearly 10 billion gallons of water/year out of the headwaters of the Colorado River.
The US Forest Service is accepting comments on the proposed special use permit, and the cities’ attempt to avoid an environmental analysis of their geotechnical work and road building by means of a “Categorical Exclusion”. THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT COMMENTS IS JUNE 30, 2020. We are submitting longer legal comments, but you can submit your own comments similar to the ideas below.
YOU CAN SUBMIT COMMENTS ON THE U.S. Forest Service website here: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=58221
To assist you in preparing your comments, below are some talking points you may wish to consider: Note: Be sure to include at least the first bullet point in your comments. If it’s easier, you can copy/paste the comments below into the Forest Service website
- I strongly oppose the requested special use permit (SUP) and related Categorical Exclusion (CE) for geotechnical investigations in connection with Homestake Partners’ proposed transmountain diversion of water from Homestake Creek in the Holy Cross Wilderness for the Whitney Reservoir project.
- The requested SUP/CE would allow for up to a year of drilling, road construction, and cross-country travel by vehicles and equipment within the White River National Forest in support of the proposed reservoir and diversion project.
- I oppose both the SUP/CE and the underlying proposed Whitney Reservoir project.
- Diverting even more water out of the headwaters of the Colorado River is a terrible idea.
- The proposed work also is a critical step in advancing the Whitney Reservoir project, which would require making a Wilderness boundary “adjustment” to reduce the Holy Cross Wilderness by almost 500 acres. I oppose reduction of any federal Wilderness Areas, and especially the unique Holy Cross Wilderness which is already being dewatered by the Homestake Partners.
- I am deeply concerned about the Whitney Reservoir project’s impact on the environment and the complex fen wetlands. These wetlands are some of the finest of their type in the entire White River National Forest. Reclamation and restoration of complex fen wetlands has not been proven to be possible.
- The communities of Aurora and Colorado Springs should take action to reduce their water needs, and not destroy our Wilderness and rivers.
- Thank You for contacting the U.S. Forest Service and for protecting the Colorado River!