SPECIAL EAGLE POST 

At EAGLE SUMMIT WILDERNESS ALLIANCE
  
WE ADVOCATE
 

BEFORE WE BEGIN:
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23 November 2019
Dear *|FNAME|*

Greetings!

Thank you for your support of EWSA! Below are timely updates about the 6 campaigns that compose the ESWA Advocacy Portfolio. If you value Wilderness, we hope that you will also support these campaigns. They are:
1. The CORE Act - 400,000 acres protected
2. Buck Berlairmont - stop luxury development in WRNF
3. Lower Blue Residents United - stop open pit mine in unspoiled ranch country
4. Homestake III - protect the Homestake Valley from front range thirst
5. Rename the Gore Range - to the Nuchu Range (Ute word for "Ute")
6. East Vail Bighorn Sheep - protect their habitat

We begin with an introduction by Currie Craven, our co-founder 26 years ago, longtime President, and inspiration for our annual Award for Wilderness Stewardship.
INTRODUCTION
Currie Craven

Historical background: When Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness (now ESWA) was founded in 1994, advocacy was identified as one of our operating principles. We quickly entered a world of competing visions of responsible and sustainable use on our local public lands. Our nascent group of Wilderness enthusiasts became involved in decision making at the county and federal level. Public processes regarding motorized use on designated or undesignated routes and FENW inclusion in the White River National Forest land use planning (Forest Plan) meant learning issues and concerns, attending public meetings, participating in Summit County and USFS task forces, and crafting position papers and comments for public input. Countless phone calls, research, and outreach to other organizations, and more than a few brainstorming and brew-consuming sessions ensued. 
 
Early on, we learned the importance of networking with like-minded conservationists and experts. Our involvement introduced us to dedicated individuals whose official positions may not have encouraged public participation but were willing coaches and guides. Having friends who could provide a tip when conservation values were threatened has been essential to our success. Also critical were relationships with members of the media who were generally pleased to have sources for stories about highly visible and sometimes contentious topics.
 
As we have evolved from FENW to ESWA, our happy band of Wilderness lovers has broadened the group’s perspective on and awareness of matters of concern beyond our original geographic area of interest. This newsletter will address our current Advocacy campaigns. I encourage ESWA members to bring new matters to the Board’s attention. 
 
Looking ahead: Of particular interest to me are land-use proposals that have precedent-setting potential or negative implications for the integrity and strength of the Wilderness Act. For instance, in this time of unique wildland fire risk, communities are seeking proactive mitigation measures, such as the proposed forest management actions near Vail in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. While worthy, reaction to increased fire danger should not be hasty and must include thoughtful approaches that can work within the scope of the Wilderness Act, minimizing mechanical treatments and encouraging natural processes such as prescribed burns. Enabling legislation must be specific, have limited scope, and include sunset provisions. 
 
I hope ESWA will be included as a stakeholder whose “place at the table” will be ensured.
1. CORE Act
Susie Kincade


CORE Act Passes House, Awaits Senate Hearing. 
 
The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act gained momentum in 2020, and passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in September! The NDAA is "must pass" legislation; it has moved on to the Senate with the CORE Act included in one of two public lands amendments which together will designate almost 1.3 million acres of wilderness and more than 1,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers in Colorado, California, and Washington. 
 
The CORE Act is a prominent component of the NDAA, with 400,000 acres, including 100,000 in the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act – the back yard of ESWA. The proposed 28,000-acre Camp Hale National Historic Landscape surrounding the historic WWII training camp is seen as a key connection between public lands legislation and the NDAA. Our veteran supporters have been working overtime to send that message to Congress! 
 
In October, supporters took a 3-day virtual visit to Capitol Hill, lobbying Senators and House Reps enthusiastically for the CORE Act’s inclusion in the NDAA. On November 12, the coalition organized a Day of Action for Coloradans to send to their elected officials messages to support for CORE. This action will be followed on Wednesday, Nov. 18 with the bill’s first Senate hearing in front of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Catch the show live - 12:30 PM MST on Wednesday, Nov. 18 and hear Rep. Neguse and Senator Bennet make our case. Click HERE.
  
The Core Act seems to be rounding the corner toward home in 2021, thanks to champions Senator Bennet, Representatives Joe Neguse (left) and Jason Crow (notably also a veteran), as well as the many citizens and grassroots organizations like ESWA that have written letters of support and helped keep up the drumbeat to protect these precious public lands.

We look forward to working closely with Senator John Hickenlooper in 2021 to move the CORE Act across the finish line!  As we do, please take every opportunity to write your letter of support to your local paper, and let our champions know you appreciate their dedication to passing the CORE Act. 
2. BUCK BERLAIMONT
Peter Hart
Wilderness Workshop

 In September, the Forest Service issued a Draft Decision approving new road access across the White River National Forest to facilitate development of the proposed Berlaimont Estates luxury homes. Wilderness Workshop and many of our partners and local activists opposed the decision through the formal objection process, which concluded on November 9. The Forest Service will now review all of the objections and consider whether to make additional changes before issuing a Final Decision.
 
The Forest Service’s Draft Decision would approve a new paved road across national forest land in the heart of some of Eagle County’s best remaining wildlife habitat. The road would access a 680-acre private inholding deep inside the forest, zigzagging through prime deer and elk winter range and bisecting an important migration corridor, in order to create a new luxury subdivision high above the community of Edwards. The Forest Service has recognized the importance of this wildlife habitat and currently has seasonal closures in place to protect outstanding winter habitat. Those seasonal closures would be eliminated by authorizing the new paved road, undermining protections that the agency itself previously found necessary.
 
The road is unnecessary and unreasonable – the Berlaimont Estates developer is a private land speculator who knowingly purchased a limited-access parcel more than a decade ago. The Forest Service is not legally required to provide the type of access that the developer is seeking with this proposal. And yet, the Forest Service is moving forward with a decision that would result in degradation of some of the last best winter wildlife habitat in the valley at a time when populations are in steep decline.
 
We will continue the fight to Buck Berlaimont. Click HERE to learn more about the Draft Decision and the impacts this project would have on wildlife in the White River National Forest.
[Peter Hart also wrote a detailed essay for an ESWA newsletter. - Ed]
3. LOWER BLUE RESIDENTS UNITED
John Fielder
BACKGROUND: In 2018, Lower Blue valley resident Julie Hillyard sold her beautiful 80-acre ranch to Peak Materials (formerly LG Everest), operators of the Maryland Creek gravel/aggregate mine north of Silverthorne. The ranch property is 10 miles north of Silverthorne, just south of Ute Pass Road, and lies nestled between the Blue RIver (near its confluence with Slate Creek) and Route 9. Peak plans to mine aggregate at the Hillyard site and truck it to Maryland Creek for processing - up to 230 truck trips per day.
Peak Materials ultimately must gain approval from Summit County, as well as Colorado Mine Land Reclamation Board, a citizen board. 
In August, 2020 Peak applied for a permit from Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (CDRMS), which soon received 150 letters asking to testify against the mine at a hearing. As a result, CDRMS has classified the application as "Complex" and has extended the review period and delayed the hearing until 2021.

LBRU and its expert witnesses will be at the hearing to talk about the myriad adverse impacts of the mine on the Blue River and its fishery, local water well water quality and quantity, wildlife, highway traffic, and the overall inadequacy of Peak's reclamation plan. You can follow events HERE.
4. RENAME THE GORE RANGE
Karn Stiegelmeier
Chair, Board of County Commissioners, Summit County
BACKGROUND: The campaign to rename the Gore Range, led by Karn Stiegelmeier, began several years ago. George Gore was really, really bad. These mountains lie in the heart of the homeland of the original inhabitants, the Ute Indians, whose stewardship preserved the area for thousands of years. Read all the history HERE.

UPDATE: I wish I could say we are ready to celebrate a name change for our beautiful mountain range to Nuchu Range to honor the Utes who resided here for thousands of years before being marched out to reservations in Utah (Nuchu means "Ute" in their language). Lord Gore’s 1850’s activities were the antithesis of our stewardship values. The mountain men, the Native Americans, and the US Cavalry who helped guide Gore - all were finally disgusted by his killing spree of wastefulness, leaving thousands of elk, deer, buffalo, bears and other wildlife to waste, ignoring the local indigenous people who depended on these animals for their survival.
 
Unfortunately, this is a long bureaucratic process, even though the current name (Gore Range) fails to meet the basic naming criteria of the USGS. Our application has been received by the national Board of Geographic Names. They will send a packet of information to the Colorado Naming Board. At present, the State Board is meeting on its bylaws, process and protocols. The expectation is they will actually begin considering the 18 proposals early in 2021. I have been pushing for our proposal to be first to be considered because it seems very straightforward and less controversial than others.
5. HOMESTAKE III - STOP WHITNEY RESERVOIR
Mike Browning
Chair, ESWA

The Holy Cross Wilderness is again being threatened by a new reservoir project proposed by the Cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs. The Cities want to build a new reservoir on Homestake Creek called Whitney Reservoir. The existing Homestake Reservoir was built in 1968 before the creation of the Holy Cross Wilderness and holds 43,600 acre feet of water. The proposed reservoir would hold up to 20,000 additional acre feet and further scar the gorgeous Homestake Creek Valley, inundate additional wetlands and fens, and destroy other critical wildlife habitat. The project would also require that up to 497 acres of currently in the Holy Cross Wilderness be de-designated – removed from the Wilderness Area.
 
The Cities are currently seeking a special use permit to drill geophysical holes to determine the suitability of various potential dam sites. Some of these holes, and the access to them, would cross existing wetlands and fens. ESWA is working withl groups like Holy Cross Wilderness Defense Fund (HCWDF), Colorado Headwaters, the Sierra Club, and WildEarth Guardians to oppose this requested permit, and will vigorously oppose any subsequent permits that may be sought in connection with this project. The local community and environmental groups defeated a similar project in the 1970’s (Homestake II) and we will make every effort to defeat this new proposed “Homestake III.” For further information, see the recent ESWA eNewsletter by the HCWDF founder Warren Hern, as well as ESWA’s website.
6. SAVE THE EAST VAIL BIGHORN SHEEP
WINTER BIGHORN SEEK HABITAT IN EAST VAIL
 Mike Browning
Chair, ESWA

The area just north of the East Vail Exit on I-70 is critical bighorn sheep winter habitat. The land is currently being proposed for a housing development by a private entity. ESWA and other local groups are supporting a plan to instead protect this area for the bighorn sheep. The proposal currently under consideration would have the Town acquire the East Vail parcel from the developer in exchange for other land owned by the Town that is more suitable for development. On July 20, 2020, ESWA provided comments to the Vail Town Council in support of the land swap. ESWA will continue to monitor this matter closely.
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