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Stop the destruction about to happen at Chatfield State Park

This petition had 3,803 supporters

I am a Coloradoan, a wildlife and nature photographer, a Colorado State Parks pass holder and someone who cares about saving open spaces for wildlife.  My goal in writing this is to stop an act by lawmakers that will destroy land in the park that animals rely on, and that people like myself use to have contact with nature and wildlife; land that is dwindling as development creeps in an around Chatfield.  I believe this project is moving forward without knowledge of the bulk of general public, including people who recreate there as it has had very little media coverage.  Chatfield State Park, one of Colorado’s most visited State Parks, is threatened by proposed changes that would destroy much of its woodlands and riparian habitat and heavily impact the activities of Park visitors. A consortium of water districts has requested to store additional water in Chatfield Reservoir. The maximum storage level of the Reservoir would be increased by 12 feet, expanding its footprint significantly. Perhaps worse, routine water levels in the reservoir would fluctuate by as much as 21 feet. Swim beach facilities would have to be moved. Woodlands would be inundated. The floating marina would have to be re-anchored to accommodate the larger water level fluctuations. Shady picnic sites in areas to be flooded would have to be moved to higher treeless locations.

As Plum Creek enters Chatfield Reservoir, there are tall bushes along the Creek shore and trees further away. Depending on the water level and season, sheltered pools provide for a variety of wildlife. South along the Creek less than 100 yards, larger trees close in on the water. Many patches of thick, bushy undergrowth grow among the trees further to the south and west. Open meadow areas lying west of Plum Creek, add ready access to nighttime feeding to the daytime shelter of the riparian area. Resident and migrating birds depend on the Plum Creek area, as do a multitude of other animals. Under the planned Reallocation, the habitat within the maximum floodplain along Plum Creek would be sacrificed to preserve water quality and the mature trees would likely die with periodic flooding.  Many animals live there including Whitetail and Mule Deer, Elk, Coyotes, Raccoons, Mountain Lions, Bears, Porcupines, and a multitude of birds live and or migrate through the park.

Because the consortium owns very junior water rights, water would only approach the maximum level in extremely wet years. Many years the reservoir would be maintained close to its current level. At low water levels, the swim beach facilities would be more than 600 feet from the water’s edge. Rich woodland and riparian habitat along Plum Creek and the South Platte River would be flooded during wet years and transformed into mud flats much of the time. Visitors would have fewer wild birds and other animals to observe and fewer opportunities for contact with nature.  

There are alternatives to destroying the park.  The Draft Feasibility Report / Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) explores only four alternatives in detail: “No Action” (storage of water in a to-be-constructed Penley Reservoir and downstream gravel pits), “Least Cost” (continuing to use non-renewable non-tributary ground water for upstream users and storing water for downstream users in gravel pits), Alternative 3 (raising the storage level of Chatfiled Reservoir by 12 feet), and Alternative 4 (raising the storage level of Chatfield Reservoir by 5 feet, using gravel pits for additional storage, and continuing to use non-tributary ground water).


The DEIS does not appear to give other water storage alternatives for water supply serious, objective consideration. Aquifer storage/recharge, concerted efforts to increase water conservation, storing water in gravel pits, and storage in the existing Rueter-Hess Reservoir are briefly mentioned and dismissed. While none of these is a total solution, together they could provide the same benefits as the Chatfield Reallocation Project without tearing apart the Chatfield State Park.

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