We are pleased to share important news regarding recent developments in our 38-year long effort to Save Red Lady. Recently, and as long urged by HCCA, State and Federal officials are seriously looking at a long-term solution that would permanently protect Mt. Emmons from mining and ensure financial viability for the operation of the Water Treatment Plant (WTP). U.S. Energy, the current owner of the WTP needed to treat acid mine drainage only a few miles upstream of Crested Butte, may not be in a solid financial position to continue operating the WTP based on financial statements the company filed this year. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Town of Crested Butte, Gunnison County, and federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service, have been meeting to discuss the WTP and a long-term protection of Mt. Emmons in light of U.S. Energy’s declining financial situation. Last month, EPA and CPDHE invited Freeport-McMoRan to...More Information
Proposed loophole could cause millions of tons of carbon pollution, undermine Obama administration climate goals, and degrade wildlife habitat Denver, CO — National and local conservation groups today condemned a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to continue pressing to open National Forest roadless areas in Colorado to coal mining. In a notice filed today, the Forest Service announced it would move forward by issuing a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposal to pave the way for mining. The proposal would re-open a loophole in the Roadless Rule for national forests in Colorado to enable Arch Coal – the nation’s second largest coal company – to scrape roads and well pads on nearly 20,000 acres of otherwise-protected, publicly-owned National Forest and wildlife habitat in Colorado’s North Fork Valley. The loophole was thrown out by the U.S. District Court of Colorado last year because the Forest Service had failed to consider the climate change impacts of mining as much as 350 million tons of coal in the national forest. (Today’s notice...More Information
The U.S. Forest Service is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to consider and disclose the potential environmental effects of implementing select projects from Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s (CBMR) 2013 Master Development Plan. Issues being considered by the Forest Service include: A Special Use Permit boundary adjustment to include skiable terrain in the Teo Drainage area; Construction of new ski trails and glades in Teo Park and Teo Drainage; Construction of two new lifts (Teo Drainage and Teo Park), and realignment of the existing North Face lift; Installation of additional snowmaking infrastructure; Construction of approximately 2,300 feet of new road and 450 feet of realigned road for construction and maintenance access; and Construction of approximately 15 miles of multi-use and mountain biking trails within the existing permit boundary. The Forest Service is accepting public scoping comments to determine what issues to address in its EIS. We encourage you to attend one of the two public open houses to learn more about this proposal and ask questions. On Wednesday, November 18,...More Information
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 16, 2015 CRESTED BUTTE, COLORADO – Concern for water quality and the uninterrupted operation of a nearly $2 million per-year water treatment plant that treats acid mine drainage in the Upper Gunnison River watershed, continues to rise after the release of U.S. Energy Corp’s (USE’s) third quarter financial statement. USE is the company that owns and operates the water treatment plant on Mt. Emmons above Crested Butte. Over the past year, USE’s financial health has continued to decline due to the dramatic downturn in the price of oil. This past July, the company received a warning that it could be delisted from the NASDAQ stock exchange and recently had its borrowing base with Wells Fargo significantly reduced. This has not gone unnoticed in the Upper Gunnison River Valley. “As U.S. Energy’s finances continue to decline, the community’s concerns about what this means for the necessary water treatment plant’s operation on Mt. Emmons is only heightened,” said Michele Simpson, Executive Director of High Country Conservation Advocates....More Information
HCCA Sues the Forest Service for Failing to Have an Approved Plan of Operations, Financial Assurance Bond, and Public Review for Facility Treating Acid Mine Drainage into Coal Creek Above the Town of Crested Butte Conservation Group Challenges the Forest Service’s Failure to Insure Sufficient Funds are in Place to Cover Costs of U.S. Energy Owned Water Treatment Plant; a Situation that has Become Only More Concerning as U.S. Energy’s Financial Situation Continues to Deteriorate October 5, 2015 CRESTED BUTTE and DENVER, COLORADO – High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA), a nonprofit grassroots conservation organization based in Crested Butte, filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Forest Service in federal district court in Denver for the agency’s failure to have an approved Plan of Operations (PoO) and a bond or financial assurance in place for a Water Treatment Plant (WTP) on Forest Service lands that is owned by U.S. Energy Corp (USE). A PoO and bond are necessary to guarantee that the operation and maintenance of the WTP,...More Information
It’s time once again for the High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) Annual Meeting, Board of Directors election and potluck feast. The meeting will be held on Monday, October 5th, at 6-8 PM at the Queen of All Saints Parish Hall (401 Sopris Avenue) in Crested Butte. Please bring a dish to share of appetizers and desserts – preferably finger food and your own dinnerware. Drinks will be provided. After time to eat, drink and converse with fellow HCCA members, the program will begin with updates by Board and staff. Our special guest speaker is former HCCA Board president, adventurer, educator, and backcountry guide extraordinaire, Billy Rankin, presenting: A Sense of Place, Beauty and Adventure – Locally and Beyond. In addition to serving our community on SAR, EMS, Ski Patrol and Town Council, Billy’s search for beauty and adventure has led him to SE Asia, New Zealand, The French Alps, Alaska, and Iceland. He has traveled the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on six different occasions, spending between 13 and 24 days, and extensively in the Crested Butte backcountry- guiding, patrolling, forecasting...More Information
As a headwaters community with our own legacy of acid mine drainage just west of town on Mt. Emmons (or Red Lady), the recent spill of over 3 million gallons of sludge from the Gold King mine into the Animas River truly hits home. Watching the surreal orange and yellow contamination wind through southwest Colorado evokes flashbacks to when Coal Creek, the pulse of Crested Butte, ran orange. Although we’ve made great progress in cleaning up Coal Creek, our drinking water, community, and local economy are still vulnerable to the negative impacts of acid mine drainage. Recently we’ve also been reminded of our vulnerability as we’ve watched the company that owns the mineral interests on Red Lady―U.S. Energy Corp.―struggle financially. U.S. Energy’s three-decade old water treatment plant treats acid mine drainage that would otherwise drain into Coal Creek. Yet, there’s no financial assurance guaranteeing that the nearly $2 million per year operation will continue uninterrupted. At the same time, Coal Creek still does not meet water quality standards for...More Information
HCCA’s first annual High Country Farm to Table Dinner, a Save Red Lady Campaign benefit, held last week, proved to be an enormous success thanks to some very special sponsors, generous donors, our very gracious guests, an incredibly beautiful location, awesome volunteers, super delicious food and absolutely amazing weather. Keep an eye on our events page for the next one! Sincerest thanks to our sponsors: Elevation Beer, Mountain Spirits Liquor, Big B’s, Town of Mt CB, Children’s Discovery Ranch, RMBL, Donna Walker, First Ascent Coffee Roasters, Mountain Roots Food Project and Rain Crow Farm for providing the essentials. An outstanding silent auction was made possible by the generosity of: Crested Butte Film Festival, Townie Books, Montanya Rum, Big B’s Juices and Hard Cider, Mountain Oven Bakery, CB Nordic, Stone Cottage Winery, Studio 3, Chopwood Mercantile, Monica Ariowitsch and Suzanne Pierson. Our volunteers: musicians Allen Smith and Zach Wolfe, Kate Wessels, Honeydew Murray, Dan Oliver, Ann Gibson, Hilary Henry, Sandy Shea, Claire Karban, Alli Melton, Richard Forbes, Jack Mangan, Brian Smith,...More Information
A FIVE-COURSE FARM FRESH LOCAL ORGANIC EXPERIENCE, our High Country Farm to Table Dinner, on September 9th, introduces a delightful summer menu using the freshest organic and natural ingredients sourced from local farms and exquisitely prepared by the excellent organic chefs at Mountain Oven Bakery. Five delectable courses of haute cuisine are served plein air, in the garden, surrounded by gorgeous meadows and spectacular mountains. Local organic wines and teas accompany your meal. The evening also includes a cash bar and silent auction. This is a benefit for High Country Conservation Advocates’ Red Lady Defense Fund. Tickets are $50 per person. Please call or email us to make a reservation and purchase your tickets. View menu here. Dinner is served promptly at 5:00 pm. Please arrive early to check-in and be seated. Warm clothing, for dining out of doors is encouraged. Click HERE to purchase your tickets...More Information
For years, HCCA and the community, including Town and County governments, have raised concern over the lack of bonding or assurance for the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) that U.S. Energy Corp. (USE), owns and operates on Forest Service land to treat toxic acid mine drainage before it enters Coal Creek, just a few miles upstream from Crested Butte. This concern has received renewed attention as we’ve watched USE’s financial situation deteriorate since last November. Last month the company announced it would reduce general and administrative costs by approximately 20%, including a 15% reduction in work force and a significant cut in annual compensation for the remaining employees. This announcement came on the heels of USE’s First Quarter Report that noted only $4 million in cash and cash equivalents while re-affirming that operating the WTP alone costs $425,000 per quarter―coming in at 1.7 million a year. On July 14, USE received a listing standard notice from NASDAQ for failing to meet the listing requirement of maintaining a minimum bid price of $1 for the previous 30 consecutive business days. Over...More Information
Last month, the Forest Service released its long-awaited Spruce Beetle Sudden Aspen Decline Management Response (SBEADMR) draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). From the beginning, HCCA has pointed out the need to focus on public safety. Removing hazard trees so infrastructure, structures, and communities are protected must be the top priority. These activities must also occur where it truly counts – which is within close proximity to such features – not miles in the backcountry. We need a proposal from the Forest Service that identifies these top priority areas to insure those are addressed first and foremost. SBEADMR is proposed to last for an 8-12 year period and treat up to 120,000 acres of our National Forest lands – all only a single formal environmental analysis process―the process undergoing right now. The Forest Service is proposing that public involvement would occur through an “adaptive management” approach. For HCCA, this does not cure the need and requirement to disclose and analyze impacts as the project is implemented and seriously hamstrings analysis of impacts due to the lack of site-specific impacts being provided. As the proposal currently stands,...More Information
High Country Conservation Advocates protects the health and natural beauty of the land, rivers, and wildlife in and around Gunnison County now and for future generations.
High Country Conservation Advocates | P.O. Box 1066 | Crested Butte, CO 81224 | 970.349.7104
We are so grateful to High Country Citizens’ Alliance for their decades-long commitment to keeping this place special. Special then, special now, and special for those who aren’t here yet.
-Sue and Pat Wallace, Crested Butte
Thank you for your ongoing vigilance to protect Red Lady…. HCCA has been the leader in this effort for so many years and I am grateful for your endless commitment and passion!
-Gail Burford, Crested Butte