Letter: Oppose drilling test wells in the Homestake Valley | VailDaily.com

Letter: Oppose drilling test wells in the Homestake Valley

I’m concerned about the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to approve drilling test wells in the Homestake Valley for the proposed Whitney Reservoir. Drilling test wells, as well as the ultimate goal of constructing a dam, will have significant impacts on wetlands, wilderness, wildlife, and roadless forests in the area.

The Homestake Valley, located between Minturn and Leadville, is a very special place that is beloved by locals and tourists alike. It offers a diverse range of recreational opportunities, such as fishing, camping, four-wheel drive roads to historic places like Holy Cross City, and is an access point to Holy Cross Wilderness whose boundaries would also be affected negatively by this construction.

The Homestake Valley is also home to fens, a special kind of wetland that takes around 10,000 years to form and performs important purification functions in watersheds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls fens “irreplaceable”. The drilling — and future dam — would drain, drown, or otherwise impair these fens. Drilling test wells would also impact wildlife species in the areas, as it would involve clearing trees to create roads and drill pads, possibly affecting the avian breeding season in July.

I feel a deep personal connection to this project, as a member of a nearby community. I understand the water needs of communities on the Front Range that have led utilities to push for this dam, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of a place like this. The Homestake Valley is an extraordinary place that generations of activists have fought to protect. I would invite residents of the Front Range to visit the Homestake Valley to understand what would be lost if this project is approved by the Forest Service. Please join communities on the Western Slope in opposing the Whitney Reservoir.

Shelley Hall

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