Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate
Drilling near Holy Cross Wilderness conflicts with Biden’s new policies
The letter warns that the investigative drilling proposed along Homestake Creek in Eagle County, Colorado could dewater and destroy valuable wetlands. In addition, the exploration will lay the foundation for a destructive reservoir that would inundate hundreds of acres in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area while stealing more water from the Colorado River to the thirsty front range for use by the Cities of Colorado Springs and Aurora.
“Taking any more water from the Colorado River is climate denial at its finest,” said Jen Pelz, the Wild Rivers Program Director at WildEarth Guardians. “Acting on climate means restoring water to, not mining water from, western rivers. This reservoir project has no place in the warming West.”
The letter from WildEarth Guardians, the Colorado Chapter of the Sierra Club, Save the Colorado, Colorado Headwaters, and Wilderness Workshop is in response to the February 1, 2021 Memorandum of Chris French, the Acting Under Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Environment. That memo instructed the U.S. Forest Service to identify and submit a list of projects meeting certain criteria to the Acting Under Secretary for additional review to determine if the projects are aligned with the newly issued policies of the Biden Administration.
“This proposed project and the anticipated dam and reservoir could have significant impacts on wetlands, wilderness, wildlife, and roadless forests,” said Will Roush, Executive Director at Wilderness Workshop. “This project deserves additional review under NEPA then what is currently contemplated by the Forest Service with a categorial exclusion.”
The groups urge the Forest Service to defer any decision on the special use permit and include the Whitney Creek investigation in the agency actions identified and submitted for review by the Acting Under Secretary by February 12, 2021.
“It’s a new day for the country and we encourage the Acting Under Secretary to slow down and carefully review the reckless policies of the Trump Administration to ensure we protect the White River National Forest, the Holy Cross Wilderness, and the local economies that are vital to the western slope of Colorado,” added Pelz. “This project at a minimum requires a comprehensive environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act prior to any disturbance of the fragile headwater rivers and wetlands.”
“In his leadership to turn back Trump’s environmental wrecking ball, President Biden should add this destructive Whitney Creek dam project to the list that requires a long and careful review to ensure Colorado’s high-country creeks and wetlands are protected,” said Gary Wockner, Executive Director, Save The Colorado.