The Holy Cross Wilderness (HCW) is again under threat by the Cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs. You will recall that in the 1980’s these Cities proposed to build additional reservoirs and increase their diversion of water from the HCW. ESWA (then FENW) and others successfully derailed those plans, but the Cities are back with a new proposal.
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 HCW. As a first step, they have applied to the USFS 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 HCW. This is a direct assault on the HCW and a dangerous precedent for all Wilderness Areas in the nation.
A detailed Proposal from CO Headwaters to protect this key resource is HERE.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: The USFS 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. ESWA has already submitted comments - read them HERE - but encourages you to submit individual comments. SUBMIT COMMENTS TO USFS HERE
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.
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.
The work to be done under the proposed SUP/CE would cause significant damage to an ecologically unique and sensitive area, popular with outdoor recreationalists.
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.
ESWA will work with The Wilderness Society, the Holy Cross Wilderness Defense Fund, Colorado Headwaters, and other like-minded organizations to oppose the Cities’ proposed plans. We will keep you apprised of significant developments and opportunities to have your voices heard. Your continued support of ESWA is an important way that you can make a difference. Memberships and donations can be made via ESWA’s website.
WE NEED TO ACT NOW TO LET THE CITIES, THE USFS, AND OTHER PERMITTING AUTHORITIES KNOW THAT THIS NEW THREAT TO THE HCW WILL BE ACTIVELY OPPOSED.
Make a donation to ESWA
Make a difference!
Join us for our next Planning Meeting Thursday July 11, 5:30PM
via Zoom or in an outdoor park. Check website