A deadline nears for public comments, and the future of Chatfield State Park hangs in the balance, warn several area nonprofits.
“Visitors would have fewer wild birds and other animals to observe and fewer opportunities to contact with nature,” the nonprofit said.
It is joined by the Audubon Society of Greater Denver in opposing the move.
The swim beach would have to be moved and the floating marina re-anchored. “Woodlands would be inundated,” supporters of Save Chatfield said. “Shady picnic areas to be inundated would have to be moved to higher treeless locations.”
To meet the needs of Metro Denver population growth projected by 2050, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends increasing the maximum amount of water stored at Chatfield by 12 feet. A consortium of local water districts back the move.
Planners project that the population of the metro area will nearly double by that point, but Save Chatfield contends the proposal fails to take into account the need to augment parks and preserve natural areas for the increased population. “Without adequate parks and natural areas, the quality of life in this more crowded metropolitan area would be greatly diminished,” it said. “There are other options.”
The consortium owns very junior water rights, and the water would only approach maximum level in very wet years, said Save Chatfield. At low water levels, the swim beach 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 most of the time,” it said.
It would inundate more than 500 acres for the expansion, at a cost of $180 million.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced Aug. 2 that its final Environmental Impact Statement was available. Comments to the Army Corps of Engineers should be postmarked no later than Sept. 3, the end of the public comment period.