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Plan to expand Chatfield Reservoir will destroy too much habitat
The purpose of this e-mail is state my opposition to the plan to expand the water storage at Chatfield Reservoir, detailed in the document titled “Draft Chatfield Reservoir Storage Reallocation Feasibility Report /Environmental Impact Statement.”
The reason for my judgement can be briefly stated: Chatfield State Park is an outstanding and unique outdoor recreational resource on the edge of a large urban and suburban area. It is Colorado’s most visited state park. The report calls for the flooding of most of its recreational areas and provides no detailed plan for what will replace it. In addition, the much larger water-level fluctuations called for in the plan indicate a place of natural beauty and home to natural plants and animals will be turned into a place of death, smell and ugliness — like many other Colorado reservoirs after draw-down.
I live close to Chatfield State Park and go there for recreation, averaging once a week. I love to hike the trails, with my favorites being the cottonwood forest along the South Platte River to the south of the park bridge. I sometimes fish for rainbow and brown trout in the river along this trail. I see deer, hawks, kingfishers, many types of water birds, heron and occasional bald eagles, as well as many migrating bird species. I can see the work of beavers about a mile down the trail as I rest by sitting on trees they have cut down. I’ve seen the prints of mountain lion here and have seen what was left of their deer kills. I’ve heard from rangers and fellow hikers of black bear in this area. I also enjoy the trail up Plum Creek, and in winter, the points with the sandy shores near the marina that have a much lighter snow cover. In summer, I enjoy taking my 2- and 5-year-old granddaughters to the Chatfield swim beach. Sitting on a beach chair watching them build in the sand or enjoy the clear, cool water is a joy — but this joy is greatly enhanced by the beautiful views of the shores with their trees, foothills, tan cliffs and the water birds that provide continual activity. My favorite birds are the majestic white pelicans, which seem to base their colony in the shallows on the south side of the lake. I have taught my children to fish in the two big ponds south of the big lake. I live close enough to Chatfield to occasionally enjoy, from my back deck, the serene beauty of the colorful hot-air balloons as they ascend from their base in Chatfield.
I tell you all of the above because the report document lays out a plan to flood everything mentioned above! In addition, there is nothing detailed as to what it will be replaced with except oblivion and ugliness.
I also am a person who frequently fishes Chatfield Reservior in the ice-free months using my fishing boat. Chatfield is one of the finest small-mouth bass and walleye fisheries in the state. In fact, it is a main source for walleye eggs for the state hatchery system. In addition, Chatfield is a fine rainbow trout fishery and also provides other species. Close to the metro Denver area, it is certainly one of the top lake and river fisheries. The report document calls for flooding a large area, which could improve the fishery, but it also calls for very large water-level fluctuations that could be very detrimental to the natural cycles that now govern this great fishing resource (in addition to reducing its beauty). It is unreasonable for government to destroy something good without knowing its implications. Some sort of detailed analysis of the impact on the fishery, which this report lacks, is needed before it is destroyed.
It is clear that the draft report is focused on a different issue than that of my comments. The problem is presented as to what is the best alternative to increase water storage for municipal and agricultural use. Relative to that objective, the report looks reasonable in choosing the Chatfield alternative. However, the report advocates the destruction of beauty, recreation possibilities and wildlife habitat, and offers no detailed plan or cost for that destruction.
Jack C. Warner