Conservation Committee

Minutes

March 7, 2007

1. INTRODUCTIONS.

Present were Kirk Cunningham, Linda Batlin, Bev Baker, Wayne Schnell, Deirdre Butler, Mark Skumanich, Todd Sanford, and Jabe Hickey. Jabe has been attending meetings of other IPG committees and has a general interest in conservation.

2. WILDLIFE COMMITTEE REPORT - Deirdre Butler.

* Recent duck deaths at the Denver Metro Wastewater Plant and other places. There is still no certainty about what killed nearly 800 northern shoveler and gadwall ducks, despite numerous tests by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the CDOW and other agencies.. The only certainly is that they were not able to produce water-proofing for their feathers.

* Hearings about wolf protection under the ESA in Wyoming. The Wyoming hearing had a good turnout by pro-wolf people (30 to 8 among those who spoke), and the same was true in Idaho. The deadline for written comments is April 9th. Kirk will send out another alert for soliciting written comments. Emial letters are discouraged in favor of mailed or faxed letters.

* Mountain lion hunter education. Last fall, the Sierra Club, Sinapu and other groups asked the CDOW to establish a course for mountain lion hunters so that they could more readily tell the difference between male and female animals. This course was finally offered this spring.

* Because of Deirdre’s increased responsibilities with her work and with Sierra Club business, she is asking for assistance with wildlife issues. For example, meetings of the CDOW’s new Conservation Forum could use more attendance by Sierra Club members. The Conservation Forum meetings are usually held on a Saturday at the CDOW headquarters at 6060 North Broadway in Denver.

3. NATIONAL FOREST ISSUES - Todd Sanford

* Once again, the Forest Service has proposed selling several hundred thousand acres of National Forest land in the US to help support rural school districts affected by reductions in forest products output. Todd has been looking for more specific info about the local sale parcels on the Web without much success. He does not expect that the legislation supporting the Forest Service proposal will succeed any better than it did last time.

* Todd is attending meetings sponsored by the Boulder Ranger District to plan for restoration projects this coming warm season. Most of these projects involve restoring damage caused by off-road vehicle use, and so the chief players are the organized OHV groups. However, he is letting people know that the IPG is interested in helping out.

4. OPEN SPACE UPDATE - Wayne Schnell

* Wayne attended the January 23rd public meeting sponsored by the Mountain Parks and Open Space Dept.on the Trail Study Area Process. He thought that the meeting was chaotic and not very productive, with all the interest groups just spouting their usual concerns, and the city staff doing what they wanted to do in the end, anyway. The Trail Study Area Process most recently dealt with the open space areas south and west of Doughty Draw, and some new trails were recommended that might have some wildlife impacts. City Council approved those changes. Several other Trail Study Areas will be the subject of future discussions.

* Wayne discussed some observations he made on a recent trip to Alaska of the attitudes of local people to tourism and oil developments, not many of which were positive

* Wayne recently saw a documentary called “Resorting to Madness,” about ski area developments, which he thought was very effective. He is writing a book about the development of ski towns and their propensity to emphasize real estate development over skiing as time goes on. He circulated a recent newspaper article illustrating how major ski resorts, in this case Vail, indulge in “greenwashing” new development. On that topic, Kirk brought up the fact that the Chapter is now considering what position to take on the proposed Eclipse Snow Park development around the town of St. Marys (of St. Mary’s Glacier fame) and just east of the boundary of the James Peak Wilderness. The development is being proposed by Michael Coors and other investors. Its impacts would be on local road and water infrastructure, on wildlife migration corridors, and indirectly possibly on the wilderness.

* Mary Skumanich mentioned that a new organization, Friends of Boulder Open Space, has been formed to advocate for greater protection of natural values in Boulder’s open space system.

5. PROPOSALS FOR A CONSERVATION COMMITTEE PROJECT - Kirk Cunningham

The purpose of such a project is to complement the IPG’s overall 2007 goal of working on energy conservation and renewable, chiefly through its “Cool Cities” campaign. Here are two ideas, one a sure thing, but short term, and one much riskier, but longer term:

a) Short term: Tree planting at Sawhill Ponds Open Space, Saturday, April 21. We have done this for several years, usually on the first Saturday of April, but this year closer to Earth Day. Staff assistance and cuttings will be supplied by the City.

b) Long term: Kirk presented an idea for a “citizen action for carbon removal” campaign, involving horticultural charcoal, to get feedback from those present. The idea is that charcoal formed from biomass, when converted under certain conditions to energy fuels and charcoal, can be used as a soil amendment that removes net carbon from the atmosphere for a very long time, since carbon in elemental form does not participate in the usual carbon cycles. Two questions that need to be answered before this idea becomes viable are, first, is horticultural charcoal a useful soil amendment for soils in the Boulder area, and second, can we get a supply of this material which is produced in a sustainable manner. Anyone wanting more info about this idea should contact Kirk at kmcunnin@juno.com.

c) Improving the efficiency of city of Boulder vehicles. Mary Skumanich observed that many city vehicles doing errands around town were over-size and powered for the tasks they were involved with. We need to inquire with the city to see if they are addressing this issues as part of their Kyoto energy use reduction efforts. Kirk said that he would contact Sierra Club and other members following the City’s program.

d) How can the IPG interact with CU’s energy conservation campaign? There was not very much knowledge about this on the part of meeting participants.

6. PARTICIPATION IN IPG MARCH APPEAL FUND-RAISER.

Every year, the national Sierra Club gives us a one-month window in which we can send out a funding appeal to all our Chapter members. Once the appeal is mailed out, Groups like ours can call our members (actually only likely donors) to remind them of the mailing and get a pledge. Those people who give our callers pledges can give up to half their contribution to the Indian Peaks Group. This is our major Group fund-raiser each year - last year it netted us about $5000. Each Group Committee has been asked to take part as much as they can in the calling. The calling will occur at the Sierra Club office in this building several days next week and the week after. Please help out if you can. The Chapter has found that a personal call helps increase the level of giving.

7. MISCELLANEOUS

A) Pesticides. Kirk has been working with an informal group affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Citizens for Pesticide Reform, on reducing the use of toxic chemical pesticides and herbicides in Boulder County. Recently, an issue arose about nuisance mosquito problems at Stazio Ballfields and other recreation areas in east Boulder next to open space wetlands. We encouraged city staff to not give in to demands of playing field users to spray the fields and surrounding wetlands with insecticide, but rather use a (more-or-less) mosquito-specific biological insecticide called bacillus thuringiensis in the wetalnds to reduce adult mosquito numbers. Recently, as reported in the Camera, the City Council voted to support a pilot program to take this approach. Hopefully, we can encourage the County to use less toxic pesticide on their lands in the future.

B) Want to know what positions the national Sierra Club is taking on bills? Go to
http://www.sierraclub.org/legislativetracker/

C) Want to know what positions the Rocky Mountain Chapter has taken on pending Colorado Legislature bills? Contact Kirk at kmcunnin@juno.com, and I will send you the current list.

D) STILL TIME TO COMMENT ON THE PIKE-SAN ISABEL NATIONAL FOREST DRAFT PLAN

A Quick Note to Help Protect the Pike San Isabel National Forest Can Go a Long Way!!

Please take a moment and send a quick note to the US Forest Service and let them know how you would like to see the Pike San Isabel National Forest managed for the next 15 20 years. This is your opportunity to let the Forest Service how important wildlands, wildlife habitat, clean water, and opportunities for quiet recreation are to you! Please make sure your comments are received by March 31, 2007!!

The Pike San Isabel National Forest is revising their Land Management Plan and the US Forest Service would like to hear from local citizens about what needs to change on the forest. The new Pike San Isabel Forest Land Management Plan will be the guiding vision document outlining how
the Forest Service will manage these 2.2 million acres of public land for the next 15 20 years. It will set the goals, objectives and general policy for the Forest Service. Therefore, it is critical to speak out for the lands we love!

How You Can Help - - -

If you have not been able to attend one of the open houses (or even if you have), then it is not too late to express your thoughts to the Forest Service staff. But, the deadline to submit written comments on this first round of public input is approaching! Written comments must be received by the US Forest Service by March 30th, 2007.

Please send written comments by snail mail, email or fax to the following:

Email Comments to: r2_psicc_webmail@fs.fed.us

Written comments to:
Pike San Isabel National Forest
Attn: Forest Plan Revision Team
2840 Kachina Drive
Pueblo, CO 81008

Fax Comments to:719 553 1440

Suggested Talking Points for your written comments:
* Protect and expand opportunities for quiet recreation. The vast majority of forest users want to experience natural sights, sounds, and smells.
* Manage all forms of recreational use in the forest in a balanced way so as to preserve the recreational experience of all users, but with the ultimate goal of achieving healthy and fully functioning ecosystems.
* Recommend that all citizen proposed wilderness areas be included in the plan and managed to protect wilderness values.
* Protect wildlife, including their seasonal and migration habitat, from increased disturbances, and work to decrease habitat fragmentation and resource degradation.
* Protect 100% of the official Inventoried Roadless Areas. Additionally, the official inventory should be updated to include citizen proposed roadless areas.
* Develop a detailed Wildland Fire Use Plan, which focuses fuels treatment projects in the wildland urban interface or other appropriate locations to protect human life and property.
* Manage for healthy ecosystems and watersheds that sustain robust local economies, ensure high water quality, provide clean air, and improve the quality of life

Background

These last few weeks have been incredibly exciting with the Pike and San Isabel National Forest now fully engaged in the first phase of the forest plan revision process. The Forest Service is in the process of wrapping up the first set of public open houses around the forest, but written
comments are being accepted by March 30, 2007. Hundreds, if not thousands, have people have attended these first round of meetings to gather input from public citizens regarding what they feel needs to change on the forest (or what is working well on the forest currently and therefore does not need to change).

For more information

For more information about the Pike San Isabel National Forest, the forest plan process and the meetings, visit the official US Forest Service website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/

For more information about the Wild Connections Conservation Plan, a science based plan designed to protect biological diversity and ecosystem health in the Pike San Isabel National Forest, please contact:

Upper Arkansas and South Platte Project
1420 Pinewood Road, Florissant CO 80816
email: wildconnections@wildconnections.org
Phone: 719.686.5905
Web: www.wildconnections.org