This document summarizes the key environmental issues associated with the rezoning in Clear Creek County, case # RZ2006-0004, resolution #07-50 (signed January 31, 2007) which is needed to allow Mr. Michael Coors to construct, open, and operate his proposed Eclipse Snow Park (Eclipse) in the Saint Mary's area, Idaho Springs, Clear Creek County (the County), CO.
This document has been prepared by Heather Ulrich on behalf of concerned citizens of the County for review by the Sierra Club to assist the club in deciding if, and in what manner, they can and will be involved in this issue. The environmental issues are those identified by the citizens as relevant, and may not be a complete list of all concerns. As the Sierra Club reviews this information, we would ask the following.
Has the Sierra Club been involved in other cases similar to this one? That is, have you:
offered support in the past to stop development of a ski/snowboard park, in particular in the State of Colorado ?
been involved at the level of a rezoning decision, in particular, for a ski/snowboard park?
In general, does the Sierra Club:
have particular interest in the proposed land exchange between the Forest Service and Coors/Eclipse?
have particular interest in the (related to the land exchange) promises of a James Peak Wilderness trail head?
have a particular interest in the possible environmental effects that the proposed Eclipse operation may have, in particular, on the James Peak Wilderness?
have general interest in all of the environmental concerns?
If there is an interest in any or all of the above items (or others), what type of support could the Sierra Club offer to the citizens of the Count
The Saint Mary's Glacier area and the James Peak Wilderness Area are treasures that deserve protection – treasures for the County, the State of Colorado , and the nation. We look forward to any and all help that the Sierra Club can provide to the citizens of Clear Creek County to protect this beautiful and environmentally vulnerable area.
This document is divided into the following sections.
Environmental issues – a summary of some of the key issues, including:
Proposed Land Exchange with the U.S. Forest Service
The James Peak Wilderness
Water for Snowmaking
Wildlife (including noise and lights)
Alpine Tundra and Bristlecone Pine
1. The Players
Here is a summary of relevant “players” at the County, concerned citizens, and the Sierra Club.
1.1 Clear Creek County
Relevant staff, etc at Clear Creek County include the following. All have the following mailing address, unless otherwise noted.
P. O. Box 2000
Georgetown CO 80444
Mr. Frederick Rollenhagen, Planning Director
Clear Creek County Planning Department
Mr. Robert Loeffler
Mr. Tim Allen (Road & Bridge)
Division Director, Public Works
3549 County Road 312
PO Box 362
Dumont , CO 80436
Mr. Tim Vogel, Director (I think)
Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)
Joan Drury - Chairman
Mark (and Donna) Kline
889 Fall River Road
Idaho Springs Co 80452
303.237.8090 or 303.980.6993
MDK Properties LLC
7999 West 16th Ave
Lakewood Co 80214
Heather (and Marshall) Ulrich
515 Brook Drive
Idaho Springs , CO 80452
303-567-0727 or 720-320-2613
Jan (and Bart) Ziman
2895 Fall River Road
Idaho Springs , CO 80452
3792 Fall River Road
Idaho Springs , CO 80452
1.3 Sierra Club
Wilderness Co-Chair, Indian Peaks Group, Sierra Club
P.O Box 873
Nederland , CO 80466
977 7th St .
Boulder CO 80302
Rich Levy, Co-Chair
Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter
**city, ST zip**
Sus an LeFever, Director
Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter
1536 Wynkoop Street , 4C
Denver , CO 80202
2. Zoning Change Overview
The requested zoning change is to Commercial – Outdoor/Recreation:
“providing for commercial/ recreational activities that are directly associated with outdoor recreation.” The C-OR designation allows for the Permitted Principal Use of “1. Alpine ski/cross-country ski and snowboard area.”
The change is for various parcels of various zoning designations, something like this: (there is more than a bit of confusion here). See Figures 1 and 2.
MR-5 mountain residential, large lot 3 parcels (40 acres)
R-1 residential single family units 4 parcels (4-6 acres)
R-2 residential two family units 9 parcels (10 acres)
M-1 mining one district 48 parcels (220 acres)
M-2 mining two district 1 parcel (lumped with the M-1 lots)
C-1 commercial one district 3 parcels (12 acres)
Because residential development is allowed on M-1 parcels, 275 acres are currently zoned/would allow residential development. Only 12 acres would allow some commercial development.
Figures 1 and 2. Current zoning and proposed rezoning – all to C-OR. Note the significant amount of surrounding, and “in holdings,” of Forest Service land, zoned NR-PC.
Adjacent Zoning/Characteristics of the Area
As shown on Figure 1 the areas adjacent to Mr. Coors' property (mostly the scattered blue areas in the upper left and the small orange commercial section) are zoned as:
NR-PC Natural Resource/Preservation all of the light green areas [Forest Service]
R-1 Residential Single Family units the purple area, known as St. Mary's/Winterland
R-2 Residential Two-Family units the light pink area, known as Alice
Figure 3. Zoning in and adjacent to the proposed ESP – all adjacent, and in-holding, land is zoned NR-PC (the Forest Service land), R-1, and R-2, with no buffer zones.
This clearly shows that the intended use of the surrounding area is for preservation and residential uses; NOT to support a commercial snowboard park. This is especially relevant because there is NO buffer zon e between the residential areas and the area proposed for rezoning to allow ESP. There is also NO buffer zone between the NR-PC area (Forest Service land) and the proposed Eclipse operation which would have significant impacts on the environment. This area is also a gateway to the St. James Wilderness Area.
2.1 Proposed Eclipse Operations
In general, Eclipse is proposing to develop a ski and snowboard terrain park resort. Winter operations are proposed from mid-November through April from 10 to 10. They are also investigating summer operation (as summarized below), including the possibility of year-round skiing. The park would require snowmaking (initially proposed as 42 acres, but possibly increased to 60 acres requiring snowmaking coverage). They “may host approximately 65,000 guests per season… [and] visitation for summer uses will not exceed the winter use. The target market is 10 to 30 year-olds, with 250 weekday guests, 600 to 1,200 weekend guests, and 1,200 guests on “peak days” projected.
Summer Operations – 130,000 Visitors a Year
All of the documents prepared by Eclipse from the start, including their application for rezoning, have clearly stated that summer operations are proposed.
“ESP is also investigating the option of a summer ski operation. ESP may host terrain park camps from April through mid-June” and goes on to say:
“ESP is developing a variety of concepts for summer recreation opportunities; visitation for summer uses will not exceed winter use.” and later says
“As long as ESP has adequate snow and public interest, ESP will remain open into the summer months.” [This is their hope of year-round skiing]
With winter use estimated at 65,000 + (possibly as many, but not exceed) 65,000 in the SUMMER = 130,000 visits.
The only thing that is *somewhat* new regarding summer is Coors stating on his forum http://www.eclipsesnow.com/forums/eclipse_forum/viewtopic.php?t=5&highlight=mtb
"We have been seriously considering MTB for the summertimes [sic]. I agree its popularity has increased significantly and what they are doing at Whistler is a good indication of that."
This is the first and only (as far as I know) mention of mountain biking specifically for the summer. But summer OPERATIONS have always been a part of the proposal/business plan for Eclipse.
The possibility of year-round skiing and summer operations, including the possibility of mountain bike trails, present serious environmental concerns.
Daily Night Operations
Just a quick note here that the original proposal states “Projected Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (will vary by season)” The Initial traffic analysis says “Eclipse is proposed to operate daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. with a night skiing session.
Now, in some statements, Coors/Eclipse is trying to say that they will “probably” only have night skiing on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
2.2 Current Rezoning Status
The rezoning resolution #07-50, signed on 01-31-07 is CONTINGENT upon Eclipse combing all of the relevant parcels together to provide “access” to what is proposed as commercial property; and upon Eclipse passing development review. Several “mitigation measures” have been identified, although “mitigation” may not be limited to:
traffic impacts on Fall River Road
Clear Creek EMS reimbursements
Clear Creek Fire authority, and possible donation of land for a fire response equipment
Sheriff's office – limited to parking only
See Section 3.5.3 for information regarding problems with the proposed wildlife mitigation measures.
In addition to “mitigation measures” that are supposed to be addressed during development review, there is a *possibility* that the rezoning issue may be re-opened for public comment, and the BOCC may have to revote on the rezoning. The specifics of this possibility cannot be discussed at this time, but it should be something that the Sierra Club is aware of.
3. Environmental Issues
The proposed Eclipse Snow Park would utilize Anchor Gulch, the little bowl that forms the drainage for Silver Creek just 1/3 mile from St. Mary's Glacier itself. Silver Creek then flows into Fall River and on into Clear Creek. Eclipse also proposes to have the area include the alpine tundra terrain above and to the north of Anchor Gulch, above St. Mary's Lake , as shown in Figure 4. The treeline areas in both locations have ancient stands of bristlecone pine, and both areas serve as key wildlife habitat. The surrounding area, zoned as Natural Resource – Preservation/Conservation District (NR-PC) for good reason, is also the gateway to the James Peak Wilderness Area.
If allowed, Eclipse Snow Park would lead to damage to the watershed, displacement wildlife, and the destruction of key wildlife habitats and wilderness areas. There would likely be damage to the fragile alpine tundra and ancient bristlecone pine forests. In addition, there are significant concerns regarding pollution, noise, lights, and water.
3.1 Proposed Land Exchange with the U.S. Forest Service
In their proposal for rezoning, Coors/Eclipse stated that they had initiate discussions with the F orest Service:
“related to approximately 93 acres of Nation Forest System land surrounding the ESP private property. ESP and the USFS are presently discussing options that would allow ESP to operate on the adjacent 93 acres. [Through SUP]… Another option being pursued is a land exchange that would trade approximately 93 acres of now National Forest for other private holdings within the basin.”
As is quite obvious from the maps (Figures 1 and 2) due to the in-holdings and surrounding land that is owned by the Forest Service, this land exchange would be absolutely necessary for Eclipse to be able to operate.
As a part of this land exchange, Coors/Eclipse states that Eclipse Snow Park (ESP) willing construct a trailhead for the James Peak Wilderness Area. See Section 3.2 for more information.
3.1.1 October 25, 2006 Letter
Mr. Daniel A. Lovato, District Ranger, Forest Service, Clear Creek Ranger district, Eclipse is proposing exchanging 97.2 acres of federal lands for 56.6 acres of private lands. Here is a relevant paragraph from the 10-25-06 letter from Coors/Eclipse to the Forest Service:
“ Eclipse Snow Park proposes to exchange approximately 97.2 acres of federal lands in the Arapaho / Roosevelt National Forests for approximately 56.6 acres of non-federal (private) lands. The exchange will be completed on the basis of equal values based on current fair market value appraisals, not equal acres, as determined by real estate appraisals. If the lands proposed for exchange are not equal in value, the proponent may make them equal by cash payment not to exceed 25 percent of the federal land value. All federal and private lands proposed for exchange are located within Clear Creek County , Colorado .”
We question if this exchange would be in the best interest of the public.
The 10/25/06 letter to Lavato, signed by states that they have acquired 293.3 acres (68 parcels) [Note – this is different than the rezoning resolution that was signed] that:
“The concept plan for the resort is comprised of two ski lifts, 177 acres of skiing terrain, a new guest services building, and expanded parking lot, a small maintenance building, and all appropriate public service utilities. The proposed land exchange involved lands located in the Yankee Hill Geographic Area, as identified in the Arapaho / Roosevelt Land and Resource Management Plan. More specifically, parcels ESP proposed for exchanges are found in Management Area 8.22 – Ski Based Resorts – Existing and Potential.”
Note that they do not admit to or mention their plans for summer operations.
The letter closes saying
“Please contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss the next steps and strategies necessary for us to formally initiate the land exchange process. Our consultant, SE Group, is also prepared to meet with you at your convenience to clarify any project components. Please contact Kent Sharp with SE Group at 970.668.3398. ESP looks forward to working with you and your staff to improve the recreation experience available on private lands and to improve the management efficiencies on public lands.”
3.1.2 Legislative Approach?
One other thing that was in the file as an e-mail from Tom Tancredo's office about the proposed land exchange. It's dated 06/22/2006 from MacArthur “Mac” Zimmerman, Legislative Director, Representative Tom Tancredo ( Colorado – 6) 202/225/7882. It is addressed to Rice D. Cables, Rs Regional Forester, US Forest Services (303) 275-5451 firstname.lastname@example.org . It reads:
Rick, I wanted to make you aware of a land exchange we are pursuing in Clear Creek county. Not sure if you've been approached about it or not but I wanted to put it on your radar screen. Michael Coors is the one making he proposal. He is seeking the exchange to open a snow park. I've talked briefly (as has Michael I believe) with Lisa Subcasky in the Arapaho Roosevelt. her [sic] number is 970.295.6656.
Michael and CO. will probably be contacting you in the next week or so to talk in more detail about the proposal, but I wanted to give you a heads up on it if you weren't [sic] already aware.
Along the Tancredo lines… there is a 07/06/2006 memo/e-mail from Lisa M Subcasky /R2/USDAFS to Steven Rinella, Daniel Lavato, and Tim Sutton with the USFS re: Eclipse Snow Peak [sic] LEX – Michael Coors. This included:
“On May 30, I received a telephone call from Mack, Congressman Tancredo's Office – DC . He wanted to know what level of contact the forest has had with Coors, et al, because he was contact about doing a legislated land exchange. I told Mack that we had initial discussed with Coors, et all and they did not think they had enough non-Federal land to propose a land exchange. Mack said the Coors, et all, was interested in getting an appraisal done what would I recommend. I told him since the FS does not have formal proposal for a land exchange that would be the first thing and tat we would have to through the process (feasibility, etc).
The 7/6 memo states that there was a meeting on 07/05/06 with Daniel Lavato with Lisa Subcasky conferenced in. Michael Coors, Kent Sharp, Scott McGinnis, and Andy Speilman were present for Eclipse. The FS told them that “the district does not have the lands staff” to work on the exchange, and told them that "this exchange is not in our program of work this year.” They also explained that “The FS likes to start out with 100% propend financing; however, it is a negotiated process (they didn't like that – they want the FS to pay for it all). They wanted time frames. All we said we would do is if we received a proposal we could do ‘an initial' review in four weeks to see if it is an exchange where would [we] would proceed with doing the feasibility…however, the feasibility report would take longer since it required title commitment, LDV's etc. They requested a copy of an ATI and the steps involved in a land exchange. I sent them a copy yesterday.”
Thus, presumably, the 10/25/06 letter to Lovato from Michael Coors.
3.1.3 Earlier E-Mails to Lavato
In October 2006, Marshall Ulrich exchanged a number of e-mails with Mr. Lavoto regarding Eclipse and the possibility of a land exchange. These e-mails are a part of the Forest Service files on this issue, as obtained through FOIA. See Attachment 2 for a complete copy of this e-mail string.
3.2 James Peak Wilderness Area
In August 2002, the James Peak Wilderness Area was officially dedicated. Congress designated the 14,000-acre area, which straddles the Continental Divide and includes area in Clear Creek County adjacent to the area proposed for rezoning to allow commercial use. The legislation prohibits mining, timber cutting, new road building, and land exchanges in the area.
The James Peak Wilderness Area is an alpine wonderland with sweeping views, several majestic peaks, and numerous sparkling lakes. This high-elevation wildland forms the headwaters for the Fraser River , South Boulder Creek, and North and West Forks of Clear Creek. This area provides habitat for elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, black bear, and ptarmigan. The area's mixture of alpine meadows and forests also provides outstanding habitat for several imperiled species including the Canada lynx (a state endangered and federally threatened species), wolverine, northern goshawk, pine marten, and boreal toad.
In addition to its ecological values, the James Peak area, located only 1½ hours from Denver , provides excellent opportunities for recreation and solitude for many Coloradans. This spectacular place clearly deserves protection, and the land adjacent to the Wilderness Area is much better left zoned as it is; not rezoned for a commercial operation with its associated noise, lights, and activities.
As a part of this land exchange with the Forest Service (see Section 3.1), Coors/Eclipse states that Eclipse Snow Park (ESP) willing construct a trailhead for the James Peak Wilderness Area, as stated in their 10-25-06 letter:
“As a portion of our development, ESP, through this land exchange, would be willing to develop and provide the aforementioned required trailhead facilities and service as well as allow access across private property held by ESP to provide public access [sic – “to”] the James Peak Wilderness area. This trailhead would be located on private land currently under ESP ownership, or on land acquired through the proposed land exchange. This would rectify the current problematic situation of the general public parking along Fall River Road and other private lands to access St. Mary's Glacier.”
They go on to say that:
“ESPC will assist the Forest Service in consulting with Clear Creek County commissioners and with local residents to gather information on the appropriate location of facilities and services, as well as the appropriate measures for emergency and law enforcement access, public health, and concerns of impeded access by local residents.”
How this trailhead and parking area would be managed and separated from parking only for Eclipse patrons is not clear. Whether or not Eclipse would provide separate toilet and trash facilities (and maintain them) specifically and only for those entering the Wilderness area is also not clear.
3.3 Water for Snowmaking
The proposed 300-acre proposed Eclipse commercial operation could have a significant negative effect on St. Mary's Lake (also called the Glacier Lake ) and the St. Mary's region in general. Eclipse has said that they are have initiated negotiations to obtain (or lease) water rights from Saint Mary's Lake that are currently held by Coors Brewing. The capacity of the lake is 47.6 acre feet, and Coors Brewing has rights to 44 acre feet. The use is defined as industrial, and the point of diversion is in Golden, at the brewery.
Typically, the brewery releases their 44 acre feet of water (largely to meet downstream and augmentation requirements) in small amounts throughout the summer and into September and October. The water released from Saint Mary's Lake flows into Lake Quivara in the Saint Mary's area. Water rights in Lake Quivara , as well as Silver Lake , are owned by the Saint Mary's Glacier Water and Sewer District (the District), which supplies water and sewer services to the communities of Ali ce and Saint Mary's. The District does not use the water in Lake Quivara for drinking water, but rather uses this water to meet downstream and augmentation requirements. For decades the District has relied on water released from Saint Mary's Lake to refill Lake Quivara , and thus allow the District to meet its legal downstream and augmentation requirements. Typically, by the end of October, the ice cap is formed on Saint Mary's Lake , and the head gate is closed, allowing the lake to refill over the winter and spring.
There are a number of concerns regarding the possibility of using water from Saint Mary's Lake for snowmaking at the proposed Eclipse Snow Park . Coors Brewing currently has these rights for industrial uses with the point of diversion at Golden.
Is it appropriate (or even possible) to change this use from industrial to snowmaking?
Can the point of diversion be changed (or should it be changed) from Golden to allow artificial snowmaking/blowing of snow on the slopes of the proposed Eclipse site?
If 44 acre feet of water is taken out of Saint Mary's lake (capacity 47.6 acre feet) in the middle of the winter and after the ice cap is formed, will this (almost or entirely) drain the lake? What will happen to the fish and other life in the lake?
If 44 acre feet of water is diverted/used for snow making at the Eclipse site, what will happen to the downstream watershed when the snow melts in the spring? Will there be flooding, increased sedimentation, and/or damage to the downstream riparian environment, including Fall River and Clear Creek?
Snowmaking is considered a (at least somewhat) consumptive use. What is the plan for replacement (augmentation) of this water back into the system? Where will Eclipse get water rights for this required augmentation?
If 44 acre feet of water is taken out of Saint Mary's lake (capacity 47.6 acre feet) in the middle of the winter, after the head gate has been closed, what will happen in the spring regarding water available to be released down stream, including into Lake Quivara ? The District has relied on this water to refill Lake Quivara for decades. Without this springtime refilling of Lake Quivara , how will the District be able to meet their legal downstream and augmentation requirements?
In addition, Fall River is a riparian habitat and as a primary watershed, we have the obligation to be good stewards. With the increase in traffic volumes and change in drainage patterns, the watershed would be subject to greater levels of water pollution and other possible effects.
The Colorado Department of Wildlife (DOW) expressed concerns that the increase in run-off as a result of this development could potentially have an adverse affect on the water quality of the aquatic resources around the project for the life of the development. Pollutants from additional vehicles as a result of this development will likely be drained into the surrounding aquatic systems. Additional pollutants from fertilizers, chemical and petroleum spills, ice-melt and others, could also be introduced into the environment surrounding the development. The affect of these pollutants could potentially have long-term negative impacts on water quality and vegetation without mitigation.
Jan Ziman has additional watershed information – some of which is included in Attachment 3.
The area proposed for Eclipse is home to many large and small species, including primary habitat for Colorado 's bighorn sheep and habitat for the state endangered and federally threatened lynx. The area's mixture of alpine meadows and forests also provides outstanding habitat for other several imperiled species including wolverine, northern goshawk, pine marten, and boreal toad.
If the rezoning is approved, the natural wildlife would pay the price in loss of habitat, significantly increased disturbance, and increased vulnerability to accidents due to traffic volume on Fall River Road . They will suffer with increased air pollution as will our lakes and streams, which will collect these pollutants and send them downstream. The natural vegetation would also suffer damage from airborne pollutants, clearing, and grooming activities, thereby affecting the watershed properties of the area. All of these factors would greatly impact wildlife in the area.
Other wildlife populations identified by the DOW as abundant include, but are not limited to; elk, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, coyote, red fox, and a variety of smaller mammals. Moose may occasionally be found in the area, and the population will likely be increasing with the establishment of a small herd in Clear Creek County as animals migrate from Middle Park and South Park . Additionally, the property is in the overall range for elk, mule deer, black bear and mountain lion. It is in close proximity to overall range for Bighorn Sheep, White-tailed Ptarmigan and an elk production area, and maybe used by these species from time to time.
There are a number of avian species that may use the habitat on the property and a sample of those birds include: red-tailed hawk, northern goshawk, white-tailed ptarmigan, dusky grouse, broad-tailed hummingbird, chickadee, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, northern flicker, nuthatch, stellar's jay, mountain bluebird, and red-winged blackbird. Many of these birds are currently or could potentially use this parcel of land for nesting habitat during the spring and summer months
In addition to disturbance during the winter months, proposed summer operations, possibly including summer skiing, training camps, and mountain biking, would cause additional disturbance to wildlife species; especially since p0oeople will commonly create informal trails throughout a mountain area, cris-crossing mountain sides, wetlands, and other natural areas, spreading out and increasing the overall disturbance and impact to the land.
Snow making and snow grooming are a concern for noise, both for wildlife and local residents. The St. Mary's area is located in a closed canyon, where sounds easily carry and are echoed within the walls of the surrounding mountains and rock cliffs. With no buffer zone between the proposed Eclipse site and the homes at St. Mary's, additional noise from snow making and grooming as well as snowmobiles used, at a minimum, by area staff, would disrupt everyone in the neighborhood, including wildlife. Add to this the fact that these activities would take place at night, likely well after 10 p.m., and the problem is that much more significant.
Eclipse has said that they will not have music played from loudspeakers on the slopes, but what about in the public areas? And, what about the PA system and radios in cars parked in the parking lot? In addition, there are discussions of summer skiing and rumors of summer concerts (which are permitted under the newly rewritten C-OR zoning definition). Many of the citizens moved to Saint Mary's because of the peace and tranquility, and wildlife certainly is not adapted to music (or voices) over loud speakers, or to outdoor concerts.
With night skiing/boarding proposed to be allowed at Eclipse, either until 9 or 10 p.m., lights would be needed. In addition, lights would be needed for nighttime snowmaking and grooming. This will have a negative effect wildlife as well as the local neighborhood where enjoyment of the night sky is one of the pleasures many residents enjoy.
The County Master Plan states the need to update County regulations regarding sensitivity to environmental conditions or night lighting associated with a site. The County should be proactive in this area, and not allow rezoning which would bring bright lights to this remote mountain area – affecting residents and wildlife.
The DOW stated that the impact of a functioning ski resort will be significantly increased by longer operating hours and artificial light and noise. Wildlife populations that are subject to any kind of disturbance (hunting, recreation, traffic, etc.) benefit from resting periods and disturbance-free time. Increasing that disturbance by extended time, light and noise will result in less wildlife usage, in general, in the immediate and adjacent areas around the property.
3.5.3 Potential Problems with Proposed Wildlife Mitigation
The *problem* with wildlife mitigation is that the resolution identifies the “Plant Fish, And Wildlife Summary Report” (paid for by Coors) prepared by the Western Ecoystems, Inc dated January 23, 2007 – and this report is based on “winter only” operations, which is NOT what Eclipse is proposing. (Apparently Eclipse mis-informed Western Ecosystems about the proposed year-round operations).
Wildlife mitigation also points to measures identified by the Colorado Division of Wildlife in their response dated October 3, 2006 (see Attachment 1 for a draft of this response dated September 15, 2006) from Reid DeWalt, Wildlife Manager. However, they do NOT include additional measures presented (and read into the record) by DOW personnel at the January 31, 2007 meeting, including:
increased probability of road kills on Fall River Road (in particular Big Horn Sheep and Mule Deer),
the possibility of the boreal toad existing on the Eclipse property or adjacent (current) Forest Service property, and
the possibility of green back cutthroat trout in affected waterways.
3.6 Alpine Tundra and Bristlecone Pine
A significant portion of the area proposed for Eclipse is above treeline, in alpine tundra. Because of the small number of plant species and the fragility of the food chains in tundra regions, natural or mechanical damage to any element of the habitat affects the whole ecosystem. What effects would skier/snowboarder and, most significantly, operation of heavy grooming machines, have on this fragile environment?
There are also stands of bristlecone pine in the area proposed for rezoning. Bristlecone pines are protected in a number of national parks such as the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of California. The sheer age and beauty of these trees, which may have been seedlings at the time of the pharaohs, inspires awe and protection. Vandalism is a new threat that these ancients face, especially if the proposed rezoning area is open to large numbers of the target market: people 10 to 30 years of age.
Thank you for your interest and for any possible help you may be able to provide to the citizens of Clear Creek County to protect this beautiful and environmentally vulnerable area. The Saint Mary's Glacier area and the James Peak Wilderness are treasures that deserve protection. Treasures for the County, the State of Colorado , and the nation.
cc: Kirk Cunningham, Richard Levy Sus an LeFever
Mark Kline, Jan Ziman, and Christy Nealon
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