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
Join us for our summer installation of the Environmental Possibilities Series on select Sundays throughout the summer at The Guild, in Crested Butte. These FREE presentations and inspired discussions are brought to you in collaboration from High Country Conservation Advocates and Western State Colorado University. All are welcome. Please join us. On July 26th, Melanie Armstrong, Assistant Professor in the Masters of Environmental Management Program at Western State Colorado University and author of Germ Wars: The Politics of Nature and America’s Landscape of Fear, will present: “Environmental Micro[be]-management: How big ideas about small creatures are shaping our world,” from 5-6 pm. Melanie teaches courses on Integrative Land Management and Sustainable & Resilient Communities in the Master in Environmental Management Program (MEM) at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison. On August 23rd, Jonathan Coop, Assistant Professor in Biology and Environment & Sustainability, will present “The end of the world as we know it: Thresholds of resilience and transformation in ecological systems.” His teaching and research interests revolve around the ecology, conservation, and restoration of plant communities and landscapes in the southern...More Information
Water conservation is a hot topic at the local level. Mt. Crested Butte Water & Sanitation District (the District) is the first municipal provider to create a Water Conservation Plan in our region. The Water Conservation Draft Plan covers a range of topics and includes information on how the District uses water. The draft Plan discusses the challenges that the District may face when meeting peak demands in the future and considers goals and strategies for water conservation and efficiency. Get your comments in before 4:30 pm on July 22nd. Draft copies of the plan are available HERE or at the District’s offices at 100 Gothic Road, Mt. Crested...More Information
The second draft of the Colorado Water Plan has been released this week! With this release we should have even greater insight on how our policymakers will address key water resources issues, including protections for our rivers. If you have not yet weighed in on how you would like to see water used and protected on the Western Slope, now is your chance to do so! Public comments will be accepted online HERE until September 17th. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) will also be holding public hearings across the state to collect input. To address issues in the Gunnison River Basin the CWCB will be soliciting public comment in Montrose on July 21st at 6 pm. Click here for more information. Don’t miss these opportunities to ensure that your voice helps shape the final...More Information
The BLM and Forest Service are accepting public comments on an Environmental Assessment (EA) for up to 25 new natural gas wells in northern Gunnison County. The proposed wells, located within and adjacent to beautiful and wildlife-rich public lands, would require fracking, miles of new pipeline and road construction, and significant water use. Furthermore, the wells would be developed by Gunnison Energy and SG Interests, two companies previously charged with alleged collusion and that paid a hefty fine to settle those allegations. High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) and Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC) urge you to help us protect this sensitive landscape by submitting comments and concerns to the BLM. The EA for this proposal has several major faults and shortcomings which pose a serious threat to your public lands, water resources, wildlife and environment. To make sure that these resources are properly protected in the Upper North Fork Valley, the BLM and Forest Service need to hear from you! Written and emailed comments must be received no...More Information
Here at HCCA we’re passionate about supporting our native fish populations, including the Colorado Cutthroat. In recent decades cutthroat populations in Colorado have been dramatically reduced by mining, logging, road construction, introduction of other fish species, loss of habitat due to dewatering, and hybridization with other forms of cutthroat trout. Schaefer Creek in the North Fork of the Gunnison is home to a 96% genetically pure native Colorado Cutthroat population. Because this population is more than 90% genetically pure it is considered a Conservation Population. Indeed, the United States Forest Service has noted that the Schaefer Creek population is of “greatest conservation significance” in the Gunnison Uncompahgre National Forest. Last January the USFS submitted a proposal encouraging the CWCB to appropriate an instream flow on Schaefer Creek to protect this population. HCCA has joined the state hearing process in support of the proposal. For more information on what HCCA is doing to help protect these crucial fisheries follow our posts on instream...More Information
Long-anticipated Timber Project EIS Released: It’s Worse Than We Expected Earlier this month, the Forest Service released the long anticipated Spruce Beetle Sudden Aspen Decline Management Response (SBEADMR) draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public comment. This unruly proposal is for an 8-12 year period and could cover up to 120,000 acres of our National Forest lands. SBEADMR is forest-wide proposal―meaning it would span the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests―and up to half of the covered acreage is slated to be in the Gunnison National Forest. What HCCA finds alarming is the way it seems to undercut legitimate public comment and objection periods, site-specific analysis, and discounts negative impacts to Canada lynx habitat. In fact, it proposed cuts that could be greater than 40 acres in important Lynx Analyses Units. Because lynx habitat requires snags for denning habitat and their prey, as well as over-story coverage, this is particularly concerning. Moreover, despite hundreds of miles of poorly aligned roads, the Forest Service is proposing yet more new...More Information
In June, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the environmental community a reason to celebrate when it issued a new Clean Water Rule that will protect our smaller streams and stop polluters from taking advantage of regulatory loopholes. The Clean Water Rule clarifies the type of water bodies that can be regulated by the EPA and includes ephemeral and intermittent streams, ditches, lakes and wetlands that contribute flows to major rivers. It resolves regulatory uncertainty over whether or not a body of water could be regulated by the EPA and will decrease the amount of time that the EPA spends litigating these decisions. The EPA will now be able to spend more time addressing its primary purpose: protecting our environment from pollution. One of the very reasons this rulemaking was necessary was to close loopholes taken advantage of by industry. Polluters had changed their discharge practices to avoid regulation by dumping pollutants into non-navigable tributaries. Because the tributaries themselves were often considered “non-navigable”, the polluter could legally dump waste into...More Information
HCCA Hikes are here! Join us each Wednesday this summer, starting this week, for an outstanding backcountry experience. Click here for the 2015 schedule of the High Country Conservation Advocates’ 23rd year of Don Baker Legacy Hikes. We’ll be visiting some of our favorite places, and some new ones, sharing the beauty of our backcountry along with the importance of HCCA’s work to protect it. These free hikes are our way of connecting with you in settings we all treasure. Your participation makes them a success, as well as aiding the success of our Public Lands, Water and Save Red Lady programs! We enjoy sharing knowledge and getting to know you on the trail. More info. Hike schedule...More Information
Bulldozing roads for coal mining would damage wildlife, increase climate change emissions The U.S Forest Service received an avalanche of protest from more than 100,000 people Friday, urging the agency to reject a proposal to allow Arch Coal to bulldoze dozens of miles of roads through pristine national forest in Colorado’s backcountry. Almost 5,000 signatures were submitted from Colorado residents. Thank you for taking action and engaging on this issue at both the County and Forest Service level! National and local conservation groups are calling on the U.S. Forest Service to abandon a move to revive a loophole to the Colorado Roadless Rule, announced last month. The loophole paves the way for Arch Coal to expand its underground West Elk mine in an area where crucial wildlife reside. Under the proposal,dozens of miles of road could be bulldozed across 19,000 acres of publicly owned roadless forest, destroying habitat for black bear and elk, goshawk and lynx. Oxbow—recently cited with building roads and drill pads beyond its permitted area—could also...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