Wilderness Workshop to host Homestake Valley hike on Saturday | VailDaily.com

Wilderness Workshop to host Homestake Valley hike on Saturday

Drilling equipment on site in the Homestake Valley on August 13, 2021.
Warren M. Hern/Vail Daily archive

Amid efforts to study a potential reservoir in the Homestake Valley near Red Cliff, Wilderness Workshop is hosting a hike on Saturday to showcase what would be lost in the drowning of the area.

The event will take place downstream from the already existing Homestake Reservoir, which has supplied water to the Front Range cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs since 1967.

In the decades that followed, those cities continued to explore additional water storage development in the area, which was a source of controversy in the 1980s. A plan to put diversion tunnels under the mountains and dams in Cross Creek, East Cross Creek and West Cross Creek was defeated, but the thirsty cities have not given up on efforts to extract more water from the area, where those cities still have water rights.

The Wilderness Workshop representatives who will lead Saturday’s hike will discuss the threat new dams pose to the Homestake Valley, “as well as the generations of activists who fought to protect the valley from previous dam-building efforts,” according to the hike’s sign-up page.

In March of 2021, Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Leanne Veldhuis approved a plan for Aurora and Colorado Springs to conduct drilling and removal of earth in an effort to test the feasibility of a future reservoir.

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Several temporary roads were constructed for the project so vehicles could haul core samples of heavy rock from the area. The core samples weighed as much as 8,600 pounds and came from 10 different locations, where drill rigs dug 150-foot-deep holes.

Sam Feuerborn with Wilderness Workshop said his group has not yet received any information on the results of the effort to study those core samples, but on Saturday, Feuerborn and others will be talking about “some of the future programs that we have in the works for the Homestake Valley.”

For those who aren’t in the loop about the efforts to develop a new reservoir in the Homestake Valley, “we’ll speak to some of the history and where we’re at now,” Feuerborn said. “We’ll be taking in some of the views and looking at the viewshed that could be impacted,” said Sam Feuerborn with Wilderness Workshop.

For those who don’t have their own crampons or snowshoes, Wilderness Workshop will have extras on site. The hike is scheduled to last several hours, “but it’s just an out and back, so depending on your enthusiasm, or appetite for fresh air, you can walk as far as you would like.”

The full hike is expected to be 3-4 miles.

The group plans to meet at the Blodgett Campground near Red Cliff at 10 a.m. Those who would like to join are encouraged to register at Wilderness-Workshop.salsalabs.org.

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