Peak & Prairie

Rocky Mountain Chapter's
Online Newsletter
February / March 1998


Wildlands Update...
Wilderness and Public Lands News
compiled by Mark Pearson and Jean Smith, Chapter Wilderness and Ecosystem Mapping Co-chairs

Arapaho-Roosevelt Final Forest Plan Released
While waiting for detailed analysis of the Arapahoe-Roosevelt plan, a few statistics provide food for thought. The theme of Alternative B, the selected plan, "is balance. No element of the ecosystem, including human use, would receive substantially greater emphasis than any other... We would try to create an even distribution of recreation uses and commodity activities... [and] intend to maintain or improve biodiversity while allowing some changes in the less fragile ecosystems... The theme of Alternative H, conceptualized by the Colorado Environmental Coalition, is managing for natural ecological processes -- protecting the greater ecosystem from the worst effects of human use and letting it evolve relatively unhindered, as it has done for countless centuries. It does so by recommending larger portions for wilderness protection, increasing nonmotorized recreation possibilities, and protecting areas to ensure the continued existence of all native species of fish, plants and wildlife."


Arapahoe-Roosevelt Final Plan:
Comparison of Management Alternatives *
Alt. B Alt. H
Wilderness 295,733 295,733
Recomm'd Wilderness 8,810 259,363
Existing Core Areas 9,065 152,762
Restored Core Areas 0 31,338
Corridors 0 57,741
Limited Use Areas 0 114,512
Research Natural Areas 11,285 0
Flora & fauna 332,554 50,627
Backcountry Rec'n 131,184 23,850
Motorized Bkctry Rec'n 29,911 47,112
Dispersed Rec'n 107,478 90,208
Dev'd Rec'n Complexes 3,213 15,415
Ski-based Resorts 16,527 9,101
Dispersed Rec'n-Forest Prod.    135,038 0
Forest products 9,227 0

* Not all categories are included.



AMAX Revisited
In 1981 concerned citizens in Crested Butte won a battle against Cyprus-AMAX, the nation's largest mining company. Now the community must again fight the proposed molybdenum mine on Mt. Emmons. AMAX plans to divert 30 cfs from the Slate River just below Oh-Be-Joyful area, build a dam in Elk Creek and build large tailings pits in Ohio Creek. High Country Citizens' Alliance (HCCA) says, " A giant mine in the Crested Butte area must not harm the precious assets which are the foundation of our community. We won't tolerate a boom/bust mining camp economy... We cannot accept rivers polluted by heavy metals or sediment. We don't want to see a giant mine put ranchers out of business. We won't allow the mine to harm our wildlife. We need to protect the Slate River wetlands from severe reduction in their water supply." (Excerpted from High country Report, Fall 1997)

BLM Continues Review of Wilderness Qualities
Following last summer's roads analysis of Vermillion Basin, Pinyon Ridge, Yampa, Bangs Canyon, South Shale Ridge and Castle Peak proposed wildernesses, BLM will now look at other wilderness values of the areas. Vicki Mercer, Uncompahgre Group chair and spokesperson for the Mesa County Wilderness Coalition, reports that BLM's Grand Junction Area Office says the next step - a summary of the Resource Management Plan (RMP) directives for the six areas - is expected to occur in late January. A 60-day period will be provided for people to comment on: 1) what values people think are important, and 2) whether the current RMPs protect values or whether they need to amend them. If a BLM Manager subsequently decides to amend an RMP, the decision will be open to a whole new public process.

Your input will be critical! The original BLM inventory found these areas unsuitable for wilderness - it is time to make it clear that the low elevation habitat, rugged beauty and opportunities for solitude are of primary importance to Colorado's citizens. If you are on the Chapter's ConsCom or Wilderness list server, email alerts will be sent. Or contact Jean Smith, Mark Pearson or Vicki Mercer for a mailed alert.

Utah Wilderness Reinventory
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) reports that the summer reinventory found 97% of the proposed wildernesses still retain their wilderness qualities. Some areas, however, have suffered: a new road in Dark Canyon unit, a limestone quarry in the San Juan River unit, recreational use around Moab, unregulated wood gathering in Cedar Mesa and radio towers on a peak in the Joshua Tree unit. At the same time, additional wilderness potential was discovered in Pilot Peak, Red and Blue Canyons, Central Price River and Lockhart Basin. Discovering is not protecting, however; so SUWA filed an appeal in December to block BLM's approval of an exploratory oil well in Lockhart Basin. The mineral lease, held by Denver's Legacy Energy Corporation is near a spring used by bighorn sheep. In the meantime, the Red Rock Wilderness Bill, which would protect 5.7 million acres, now has 130 Congressional cosponsors from both parties.

$2 for a Wolf
Fifty-two years ago, the last wild wolf in the Southern Rockies was killed near the Colorado-New Mexico border. The $2 per pelt bounty suited a pioneer mentality that demanded the complete extirpation of wolves. Today, societal values have shifted significantly - most people want wolves returned to the hunting grounds of their ancestors - yet Colorado's bounty remains! A 1992 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study found that Colorado has room for more than 1,000 wolves. USFWS has highlighted the bounty law as a sign of political hostility toward wolves. So SINAPU, Colorado's wolf recovery organization, is mounting a campaign in the 1998 General Assembly to repeal the bounty. (Excerpted from Southern Rockies Wolf Update, November, 1997)

What You Can Do:

HCCA: PO Box 1066, Crested Butte CO 81224; 970-349-7104;

SINAPU: PO Box 3243, Boulder CO 80307; 303-447-8655;;

SUWA: 1471 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City UT 84105; 801-486-3161;

Vicki Mercer: 970-464-0502;

Mark Pearson: 970-259-6181;

Jean Smith: 303-388-3378;