Conservation Committee


October 3rd, 2007

THOSE PRESENT: Kirk Cunningham, Todd Sanford, Bettina Mattesen, Linda Batlin

The topic of discussion was Boulder Ranger District National Forest management issues and how the IPG should deal with them. Mostly due to Bettina’s personal research of Forest Service actions, some local problems were identified:

• Reconstruction of the dam on Red Dear Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, in the Peaceful Valley area. Red Dear Lake serves in part as a storage reservoir predating the Wilderness designation, and regular maintenance of the dam is allowed as a “valid existing right”. However, Bettina believes that we need to monitor this work so that undue damage is not done to the Wilderness resource in the process. For example, supplies must be helicoptered into the site, but some of the workmen will be camped out in the area for a while.

• Gordon Gulch, on the west side of Boulder, is an access and egress point from the Sugarloaf Fire Mitigation project on Forest land. The road constructed by the contractor exceeds greatly in size and impacts what was described in the EA of the project. The road has in turn served as staging area for newly-created OHV tracks and other problems. The Forest Service failed to properly monitor the implementation of the project, reminiscent of what happened in the Magnolia Rd area south of Boulder Creek

• Ancelin property access. This property is located in the South Boulder Creek drainage east of Colorado 72. The owner owns land next to the railroad line but is not allowed to access his land over that line, so he is asking the Forest Service to allow him to build an access road through an isolated parcel of Forest land. The land has some significant habitat values and should not be disturbed.

• Proposal to build a house on a mining patent near Lost Lake and the Hesse Trailhead for the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The mining claim is an odd-shaped piece of land midway up the slope south of the Hesse Trailhead. The owner would like to build a road over part of the Lost Lake trail and then through old-growth timber to the patent. Most of the road would be newly constructed on Forest land. Both the Forest Service and Boulder County are resisting this proposal.

• Abandoned uranium mines in Boulder County. The EPA has a list of 32 abandoned uranium mines in Boulder County and over 3000 state-wide, most of which are located in existing mining districts, but some may be on public land away from other developments. Given the soaring price of uranium ore (which has already resulted in a contentious proposal to mine uranium by in-situ leaching in Weld County east of Fort Collins), there I some possibility that these old mine sites will be reactivated with possibly bad consequences for water quality. Kirk and Todd are researching the list to map the mines’ locations.

We discussed with Bettina how she would like to interact with the IPG Forest Committee and she said that she would like to remain an independent agent for now. We anticipate working with her as she locates more trouble spots on National Forest land.

In other Conservation Committee issue areas, Deirdre Butler, the IPG Wildlife Chair, is working with Sinapu and In Defense of Animals to tighten up the City of Boulder’s rules about trash disposal, to help reduce the large number of “problem bears” that have been killed in Boulder and throughout the state this year because they have raided urban trash.

Kirk Cunningham
Conservation Chair