Comments on the Chatfield Reallocation Mitigation Company’s Open House, May 30, 2017
From the Audubon Society of Greater Denver
The Proposed Mitigation is Better, But Our Basic Concerns Remain
In a 2.5 hour session on the evening of May 30, 2017, the entity known as the Chatfield Reallocation Mitigation Company presented current plans for mitigation of the Chatfield Reallocation project. It was a very slick presentation with good visuals and experts to answer questions, and it answered some of the concerns we have voiced for years. However, there was no opportunity for the public to submit comments.
- More of the mitigation will occur in Chatfield State Park.
- Wetlands mitigation has been moved from the uplands into the riparian zones.
- Severe downcutting on Plum Creek will be addressed.
However, our basic concerns remain:
- There will be a net loss of habitat, since what is destroyed at Chatfield State Park will not be replaced; the off-site conservation easements protecting riparian habitat protect EXISTING areas and no new riparian habitat is being created.
- There will be a net loss of accessible recreation lands. We will lose riparian areas and lake shore in Chatfield State Park that are open to the public to inundation or conversion to mud flats; the mitigation lands put into conservation easements will not be open to the public.
- The Corps of Engineers has refused to consider less-damaging practicable alternatives.
- The Corps has manipulated the project documents to avoid compliance with the Clean Water Act’s requirement that they choose “the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative.” Instead, they chose the MOST damaging.
- The Corps has determined that the “dependable” yield of the project – how much water it will provide in severe drought years – is 0. We fail to see why so much money should be spent for a project that cannot deliver a dependable yield.
- Because the providers have very junior water rights, they will only be able to store additional water in Chatfield 3 years out of 10, according to the Corps of Engineers’ calculations. Most of the time the fluctuation zone will be dry with great possibilities for dust and noxious weeds.
- There is still uncertainty about the fate of the mature cottonwoods in the Park.
The visuals for the recreational mitigation have been posted on www.chatfieldreallocation.org. As of June 5, the environmental mitigation visuals, the schedule of work and the Ecological Function Unit calculations used to plan the environmental mitigation had NOT been posted for future reference.