Conservation Committee

Minutes

February 4 2009

THOSE PRESENT: Kirk Cunningham and Jim Gallo, with Deirdre Butler and Bill Ikler submitting reports (see below)

1. BOULDER COUNTY BIOMASS SORT YARD/ AIR CURTAIN BURNER - Bill Ikler, IPG Wilderness Chair

There was a site meeting on this project in Nederland last week, and here’s what I learned:

Boulder County wants to establish an area in this part of the County for a Sorting Yard and Air Curtain Burner, like the one in Allenspark. The rationale from BoCo is, in an effort to help private landowners deal with a multitude of dead, hazardous trees caused by extensive beetle-kill in the area, Boulder County plans to open a community-use facility next summer in the Nederland area that will accept limbed trees and branches at no cost to residents.

The air curtain burner would be shuttled back and forth between the Allenpark site and the Nederland area site. They need a flat, 3-5 acre parcel for this project. Boulder County says they have explored all private parcels that qualify and all have fallen through. BoCo contacted the Forest Service and the best the FS will do is a 1 year lease and the County needs approx. 5 years.

The only sites BoCo is considering are a 35 acre Open Space parcel on Ridge Road near Nederland that was purchased by the Town of Nederland and transferred to BoCo as part of the Mud Lake deal. The other site is in the Reynolds Ranch Open Space off Magnolia Rd. There were several residents speaking in opposition to the Ridge Road site, objecting that every objectionable facility gets sited there, and a couple spoke against the Reynolds site.

The pros and cons and Q and A's of the two sites are listed in the BoCo website here: www.bouldercounty.org/foresthealth/pdf/NederlandCommunityMeetingNotes012609.pdf
maps of the proposed sites are available here:
www.bouldercounty.org/foresthealth/pdf/CommunityBiomassSitesNederland1.pdf

Several attendees of the meeting suggested that the County re-contact the Guercios about a parcel they own near the Rainbow Lakes Road. One couple said they would sue the County if it proceeds with the Ridge Rd. site. Several people spoke about using the Open Space sites for the project would be a breach of faith with those who voted for Open Space, and a breach of Open Space in general. I personally believe that BoCo is steering towards the Ridge Rd. site, and that the Reynold site is a straw dog.

At some point, it might be constructive for our Cons Comm to discuss the philosophical questions- Should Open Space be changed to accommodate non-conforming uses? Does the Pine Beetle Epidemic make any difference in our thinking?

I will e-mail Ryan, BoCo's point man, with your idea to truck the wood and limbs to Boulder to use as fuel. (His response follows).


“ Bill and others,

Great questions, thanks for asking. The County Biomass heating plant located out in Longmont at our Parks and Open Space headquarters actually already has enough of a supply of wood chips to run their system. As I am sure you are aware, Parks and Open Space does a lot of large scale forestry projects each summer. The byproducts that they produce in their own in house projects easily fills their demand for chips. Even with their biomass heating plant they end up with extra byproducts from their forestry work. We are hoping to get the biomass heating plant in Nederland back on line as well as hopefully getting more biomass heating facilities operating in the County. These facilities are a great way to reutilize our local forest products.

To answer your other questions about free firewood. One reason for setting up our sort yards is to find higher uses for these wood byproducts that normally go to waste. We are working with Peak to Peak wood, a collaborative entity to find/develop local markets for all this wood. If we gave away free fire wood we would be doing two things we are trying to avoid. First, there are already established firewood companies in Boulder County and we don't want to run them out of business by giving away free wood. Second, we want to find the highest end use possible for these materials.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have other questions.

Cheers,
Ryan Ludlow
Forestry Education and Outreach Coordinator”

2. NEW DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING THE ROLLINS PASS ROAD AND ASSOCIATED WILDERNESS IMPACTS - Bill Ikler, IPG Wilderness Chair

Recent e-mails Kirk has forwarded to me indicate that an ORV group wants to re-open the Wagon Road that the FS closed near Yankee Doodle Lake. The Wagon Road bypasses the closed section of Rollins Pass Rd. near Needle's Eye Tunnel. According to an article I read in the local paper, the re-opening of the Pass Road (not the Wagon Road) is a priority of the Gilpin County Commissioners. While the James Peak Wilderness Act allows for this, the Commissioners would still have to come up with the $$ to re-open Needle's Eye, mega-$$ to open the trestles, and the co-operation of the less-than-enthusiastic BoCo Commissioners, and FS.

I think that if the ORV group wants to get the closures removed, they need to deal with the FS, which I think will be an uphill battle, and that the Sierra Club should monitor the situation, but not comment for now.

3. DAM RECONSTRUCTION WORK IN THE INDIAN PEAKS WILDERNESS - Kirk Cunningham

We received information that the Forest Service would allow some repair work to be done on the dam on Lake Isabelle in the Brainard Lake portion of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Obviously, a potential issue might be negative impacts to the visitor experience, use of mechanized equipment, and the use of trails to haul such equipment. I asked Anne Vickery of the Indian Peaks Working Group what her understanding of this project was, and here is her reply:

“I had a long talk with Glen Cook at the FS. He said that a helicopter would be used to drop materials at the dam site. There would be no mechanized equipment on the ground except maybe a generator for oxygen. The work would be done at the pad at the dam. Someone has to go inside the pipe or conduit that leads out of the lake thus the oxygen. The project should not affect the trail in any way. The Regional office is still assessing the cultural and environmental effects and that document will be out sometime. Glen will let me know and I will pass it on. The work was supposed to happen this summer, but will take place next summer I don't know the timing. Probably when the lake is low. I said IPWA was very interested in the details. If you have any more specific questions, let me know.”

4. BIRD STRIKES ON BUILDINGS LIGHTED AT NIGHT - AN ENERGY WASTE AND WILDLIFE HAZARD ISSUE - Deirdre Butler, IPG Wildlife Chair

Deirdre is interested in enlisting volunteer help from people concerned about the fact the many tall buildings in Boulder and elsewhere keep room lights on at night when no one is present. Not only does this waste energy, but the lighted windows attract birds, which collide with them and are injured or killed outright. Audubon Society in Boulder is leading a campaign on this issue. If this interests you, please contact Deirdre at deirdre@cogico.com. Here are some questions and responses between Deirdre and Steve Jones, head of Boulder Audubon:

Deirdre to Steve: Do you have any information about the incidence of birds flying into lit windows at night?! One of our members raised this question and to be honest I have never heard of it before. The idea is that lights should be turned off at night, especially in high-rise buildings, as they represent a hazard to birds migrating at night and flying into lit windows.

Steve’s response: That's a good question, and we've already spoken with the Boulder climate change plan coordinator and a couple of City Council members about doing something about this. I've attached our fact sheet/position paper. Turns out about half a billion birds are killed annually from crashing into buildings and towers. Lights confuse and disorient them. When Toronto introduced a program to dim or turn off skyscraper lights at night, I believe they reduced bird mortalities by something like 90%. It would be great if you could help us with this effort by contacting individual City Council members and perhaps presenting to the environmental board. Although council has discussed incentive plans to reduce energy use in privately-owned buildings, this issue really hasn't made it onto their radar screen yet. And there's no reason why the city of Boulder, which touts itself as progressive, shouldn't be doing something about this right now.

Kirk Cunningham, IPG Conservation Chair