According to the DEIS (Draft Feasibility Report / Environmental Impact Statement, page ES-2) Chatfield State Park is used at a rate of 1.6 million visitor days per year. With habitats ranging from wetlands to semi-arid prairie, the park is a major resource for urban and suburban residents seeking outside recreation and a much-needed connection with nature. Located less than 25 miles from downtown Denver, the park’s wildlife includes deer, elk, porcupines, beaver, racoons, coyotes, occasional mountain lions and black bears, a variety of smaller mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians, and 350 species of resident and migratory birds. The Chatfield Reservoir Storage Reallocation Project would subject 587 acres of habitat that supports this rich variety of wildlife to devastating changes from periodic flooding (DEIS, Table 4-2) and grooming required to protect water quality (DEIS, Table 2-9). Some experts believe raising the water level 12 feet in Chatfield State Park is the most environmentally destructive of the four alternative plans for water storage considered in detail in the DEIS.
Our Plum Creek Habitat and South Platte Habitat pages describe some of the habitat that would be flooded. Changes brought about by flooding would almost certainly reduce the quantity and variety of wildlife within the park. Some of the DEIS’s suggestions for mitigating these potential losses are discussed on our Mitigation page.
Huge losses of opportunities to enjoy wildlife would not be the only loss for Park visitors. Some others are discussed on our Human Impacts page.
We recognize that balancing the need for water storage with other human needs is challenging. However, we feel that the suggestions on our Alternatives page should explored in more depth before destroying a portion of one of Colorado’s most popular state parks.