ESWA Opposes Homestake III, the proposed Whitney Reservoir Project in the Holy Cross Wilderness
Our beloved Homestake Valley in the Holy Cross Wilderness is again at risk. The Cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs are seeking to build what we’re calling “Homestake III,” another huge reservoir in the Homestake Valley to take even more of our West Slope water to slake Front Range thirst for new lawns, buildings, and golf courses. This so-called Whitney Reservoir Project would require up to 500 acres to be removed from the Wilderness!
Background: Despite opposition from ESWA and other groups, in March 2021 the Forest Service approved drilling test wells in the Homestake Valley to evaluate the feasibility of constructing a new dam and reservoir. The new dam and reservoir would destroy rare fen wetlands and other valuable public land resources. Aurora and Colorado Springs completed test drilling activities on private land in 2020 and will be drilling on Forest Service land in August 2021 -- after which they’ll develop a proposal for constructing a new dam and reservoir. For more background, see these articles:
What ESWA has done so far: ESWA filed formal objections to the proposed test drilling. ESWA is working closely with other groups to actively oppose the proposed Homestake III/Whitney Reservoir project, and we are part of a coalition with Wilderness Workshop and WildEarth Guardians to fight the dam. On July 7, partner conservation groups, including Wilderness Workshop, filed a Notice of Intent to sue the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service over the agencies’ failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act when they approved drilling test wells.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Let your elected representatives know you oppose any new reservoir projects in the Holy Cross Wilderness, including the Homestake III/Whitney Reservoir project; some talking points here.
Sign Wilderness Workshop’s Petition opposing the dam, and share it - over 1,000 people have signed!
What’s all the fuss about FENS? Fens are peat-forming wetlands that depend on groundwater input, require thousands of years to develop, and are hotspots of biodiversity. Fens play a key role in ensuring that streams and rivers continue to flow after snow melts. As climate warming leads to earlier melting, depleting surface water in the Colorado River and other waterways, natural wetlands are increasingly essential to preserving life. The benefits of fens become even clearer as the West endures record heat, wildfires, and drought.
Fens near Whitney Creek along Homestake Creek, where the US Forest Service granted Aurora and Colorado Springs permission to drill test bores to determine viability of a new reservoir.