Save the Homestake Valley Rally set for Saturday in Red Cliff | VailDaily.com
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Save the Homestake Valley Rally set for Saturday in Red Cliff

The rally will leave from Mango’s at 11:30 a.m. and march to the Red Cliff Bridge

Homestake Creek seen below Homestake Reservoir south of Red Cliff. The U.S. Forest Service in March approved an application from the cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs for geotechnical drilling in the Homestake Valley. The approval is one step closer to a new dam and reservoir.
Chris Dillmann/cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Wilderness Workshop is hosting a Save the Homestake Valley Rally on Saturday morning in Red Cliff in opposition to the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of test well drilling in the area.

The Forest Service in March approved an application from the cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs for geotechnical drilling in the Homestake Valley, one of the first steps toward building a new dam and reservoir on Homestake Creek.

Opponents of the decision claim that constructing a new dam and reservoir would destroy the wildlife and wetlands of the valley and could inundate the Holy Cross Wilderness.



The U.S. Forest service, in approving the proposal from the cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs on March 22, was careful to point out that the approval only allows the cities to drill bore samples, not construct a dam.

“Our analysis and approval only apply to the limited geotechnical investigations,” Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Leanne Veldhuis said in the March 22 announcement. “If we were to receive a proposal for a reservoir in the future, it would be subject to a detailed environmental review with multiple opportunities for public involvement.”

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In opposition to the decision, Wilderness Workshop and other conservation organizations in early July threatened legal action against the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to Warren Hern, a longtime defender of the area who founded the Holy Cross Wilderness Defense Fund, told the Vail Daily in July that the approved drilling of 10 bore samples up to 150 feet deep in an area of national forest are of illegal intent. Hern said the drilling represents the first step in an effort that would, if realized, encroach into the Holy Cross Wilderness area.

Along with the Holy Cross Wilderness Defense Fund and Wilderness Workshop, the letter threatening legal action is signed by WildEarth Guardians, Colorado Headwaters, Save the Colorado and the Colorado Chapter of the Sierra Club. It issues both federal agencies a 60-day notice of intent to sue for violating section 7 of the Endangered Species Act regarding the special-use permit for the Whitney Creek Geotechnical Investigation in the White River National Forest.

Peter Hart, staff attorney at Wilderness Workshop, said the true impacts to listed species, including lynx and cutthroat trout, haven’t been adequately considered or disclosed in the Forest Service’s analysis.

“After reviewing the record, it’s clear that the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to comply with the Endangered Species Act,” Hart said Wednesday.

The rally, according to a release from Wilderness Workshop, is “to show that community members, elected officials, local businesses, and environmental groups are united with a clear message: No new dams in the Homestake Valley!”

“The public is invited to join this day of action in Red Cliff to learn more about the proposed dam and reservoir, make creative signs showcasing their love of the Homestake Valley, and then join a rally through town,” the release states.

A sign-making and information session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at Mango’s Mountain Grill on Eagle Street. Mango’s kitchen will open at 9 a.m. and breakfast will be available for purchase.

The rally will begin at 11:30 a.m. and go to 1 p.m., leaving from Mango’s and marching to the Red Cliff Bridge. Participants can expect a route of 1.5 miles total.

Wilderness Workshop is encouraging those interested in participating to register in advance or RSVP on Facebook. Email erin@wildernessworkshop.org with any questions about the event.

IF YOU GO …

What: Save the Homestake Valley Rally

Where: The rally will leave from Mango’s Mountain Grill in Red Cliff and march to the Red Cliff Bridge

When: Starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with a sign-making and information session before the rally leaves at 11:30 a.m.

More info: WildernessWorkshop.org

 


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