Battle for the Mountains
[music] [music] [music] There was a time once when Colorado was beautiful and unspoiled. But today
after a century of exploitation and now with the thrust of development the pristine beauty of the mountains is slowly disappearing. In this battle for Colorado's land and resources the central issue is over whether the wild and the beautiful can be saved or if development is the key to Colorado's progress. Our beauty is the long-term economic asset of the state. We had to develop those lands only in and those areas where we don't really hurt the ecology. Where we don't stop the game and the preservation of wildlife. And we ought to locate those of developments in a compact area so we keep the open space as much as possible. Therefore you need some development. But be very wise and careful about it because the long-term economic asset of the state is its beauty.
If we destroy, that nobody would want to come here to occupy the buildings. The mountains are magnets attracting the ski industry, water and housing developers, timber and mining companies and tourists. But the use of high country resources affects wildlife habitat, wilderness areas, water for recreation and can destroy the aesthetic beauty of our state. This is the dilemma that Colorado faces today in the battle for the mountains. Thousands of skiers each winter crowd into Stapleton International Airport. They come from everywhere to vacation in the snow at one of the 27 major ski areas. These visitors bring dollars to spend on rental cars, commuter airlines, food, lodging, ski equipment and with tickets. This clean industry that utilizes one of Colorado's renewable resources brings in over a billion dollars a year to the state's economy, one third of Colorado's tourist industry.
There's a tremendous impact obviously both on the Western Slope as well as to the Front Range. Very important to the overall economy that has a very strong multiplier effect in terms of providing secondary jobs. We're spending somewhere around 75 to 80 million dollars this year primarily on expansion of existing areas. In the early years of Colorado, skiing was a way of life in the mountain towns and it was not until the 1960s and 70s that skiing grew into a recreational industry. Even though more and more ski resorts stretched along the spine of the continent, there were few protests. Ski resorts like Aspen, Vail, and Steamboat Springs prospered and there was quiet acceptance that the high country could be used for more tourists and more dollars. But a storm broke over the mountains in 1975. Environmentalists challenged developers over the beautiful Alpine Valley west of Vail at Beaver Creek. State government and local residents protested that irreparable damage would occur. But
Beaver Creek became a reality. You know there's a heck of a controversy we talk about -- a ski resort like Beaver Creek and people say well, "Where did all the beavers go?" I mean does that mean the beavers are gone forever?And the fact is, yeah, the other ones that are underneath the $500,000 homes the golf course are gone forever. But we have lots of beavers and lots of beaver habitat in Colorado. And that's a matter of making a choice. Since Beaver Creek, Ski developers have been eager to secure permits from the Forest Service and invest in the white bonanza. Money is precious. So is the pristine environment that skiing invades. There are no easy answers. Near Twin Lakes, a small community south of Leadville, a ski resort has been proposed for Quail Mountain. It is located in one of the few undeveloped high country valleys on the eastern slope and in the shadow of some of Colorado's highest mountain peaks. For more than 20 years, plans to build a ski resort at Quail mountain have stirred conflicts between ski developers, state county and federal governments, environmentalists and local
residents. Those who support Quail Mountain claim it will be a stimulant to Leadville and provide quality recreation. The opposition points to the limited water supply, lack of snow, sprawl of housing developments and loss of wildlife habitat for elk. Leadville developer Dennis O'Neill's Twin Lakes associates is proposing the resort. Well, the Quail Mountain project is more than just another ski area. We're looking for a four season resort in the Twin Lakes area of Colorado. We have approximately 3,000 acres to develop and will have our own private reservoir for recreation. And we're developing the fisheries. We feel that we have enough amenities in the location that we can compete in the national market. In the regional market, one of the faster growing areas of Colorado is in the southern front range and we're very close with almost pass-free driving to that Southern Front Range and fairly good transportation system into the area. I think the the Quail Mountain is pretty silly, really.
Quail Mountain of course would somehow have to compete with Vail, Copper Mountain, Keystone . . big resorts with an already established resort community that's already there. I don't see how it can do it. I don't see that Leadville is going to be able to use that as their step back to economic prosperity it isn't going to work. Many Leadville residents support Dennis O'Neill in his 30 million dollar resort project. For them it means jobs, reducing the high unemployment. However one of the concerns is the impact of the Quail Mountain Ski Resort on the nearby town of Twin Lakes. It has been designated as a national historic district. In the heyday of silver mining in Leadville. The silver barons built Victorian summer homes here and it served as a stage stop between Aspen and Leadville. People like shop owner June Pervert who came to Twin Lakes to enjoy the serenity and
beauty of a mountain town. I'd like to see it done in a way that leaves the areas untouched as possible. That. I wouldn't want to see a lot of condominiums lie in the valley and change the scenery and change the type of people that live here. And I don't know whether that's possible to do. I'm not sure that it'll have a whole lot of impact on Twin Lakes at all. We don't get near Twin Lakes and actually from the base area you won't be able to see any of the facilities from Twin Lakes and we're probably travel wise six miles distant. While the Division of Wildlife does not approve or disapprove permits for new ski areas the agency does assess the impact of development on wildlife habitats. One of the major conflicts is over the elk herd. In our opinion there's no question that we'll a very serious impact on the ____. There's two kind of impacts and that's the direct ones which are the actual ski lift towers and the runs themselves which I'm probably very little.
Tim Page The fact is if you have ski resort there you'll have land sould and it'll be broken up into little lots, there'll be condominiums built on golf courses, 7-Elevens, highways, parking lots you name it. Abd at that point you could in effect disrupt the entire habitat quality of the whole upper end of the Arkansas Valley. Valley there and you And you could -- you could lose that elk herd. I don't know of a good reason to displace an elk herd because The hunters aren't the only ones that appreciate wild life. Like the out of bounds bounds chapter, a hundred and some people, they don't kill, but they view and they they appreciate wild life. So, somewhere you gotta draw a line and between development and wildlife and if you get rid of wildlife, what have you got left in Colorado? Nothing nothing but . . . No final decision has been made about developing Quail Mountain. It has been turned down twice by the Forest Service and county commissioners who must approve the project. Official reviews and hearings are currently studying the potential problems including the impact on wildlife, the
acquisition of water rights and the need for more ski areas in the state. This resort is maybe some 25 years newer than Vail, so we will will be offering some things that are not as ----- as the older resorts. We have an opportunity here to come forward with some new design concepts. It could be a first in Colorado. The forest service already has excess of ski areas. They have stated they have an excess capacity of 50,000 skiers at a time through the year of 1990 and beyond. So what Colorado doesn't need is another ski area. Aren't there some economic advantages? None. My whole feelings about Quail Mountain are that the mountain isn't suitable. If they had the snow they claim they had, they had the slope they say they had, had and if it was going to be a world class, first class, year-round recreation complex, I would sell, make money and get out. My
whole argument really is not against development but stupid development, if you want to call it that. Developers of new ski resorts point to the success of Telluride, a mining town brought back to life. Located on the far western slope in a box canyon rim with spectacular mountains, travel time from Denver to Telluride was a barrier to ski development. Out on a mesa, a commercial airplane glides into the Telluride Airport the highest commercial airport in the nation and an altitude of 9,000 feet. It took 15 years of waiting and more than four million dollars of local money to build the airport. Now Telluride begins a new era. The isolation is gone. As a destination ski resort, it looks to the future to rival Aspen and Vail as the ski resort of the rich and the famous. After this year we're going to have ten lifts on the ski mountain. We have about 700 acres
which is a large ski area. When my folks came and started the ski area, the economy was in very dire straits. The population of Telluride which had been a mining population had had 5,000 people at the turn of the century and it was down to 400 people when my folks came at the beginning of the 70's. I think that it was the only economic basis that was available to this place at that time. When Joseph Zolene and Telco proposed a multimillion dollar ski plan not everyone in Telluride was in agreement. I think most of the controversy is because of cutting the lifts on the mountains and it does take away a lot of the nice foliage and the timber and so forth. But I also think that the old folks that I know who
resented the ski business is because they can't seem to think of anything but today. And sometimes you have to look to tomorrow too and the future is really what counts. Because if we didn't have the ski area in Telluride, we would have absolutely nothing. We went through a period of challenges and lawsuits by citizens, business groups, private developers, the ski company and what came out of all that turmoil was something called tray pact. Probably one of the most important features of that plan in is the fact that the density in the population is capped. There are only a certain number of units that can be built in the Telluride region. The housing does bother me a lot more than the ski area. Because I know that we need the ski area and I don't think we need the housing right now.
Telluride has been designated a National Historic Landmark which means that building renovations and new construction must reflect the Victorian era. Well, there are many many controls and many commissions and boards that these developers and people who want to build here have to go through. But it seems like some of them conform but others are not, ah, don't conform. Don't conform quite to the point, I don't think anyway. I think maybe the way I'd feel about it is they play a little favoritism. Even though we have an airport and eventhough we've increased the transportation, you still have to know that you want to go to Telluride which I think is an opportunity to preserve the area somewhat. You need growth but you need to preserve it. As far as the balance of growth and development and the beauty of the town, I don't think we have a very good balance. I think we have, well maybe more developers. And naturally they're looking out for the money and there's some
of us, of course, that want to see the beauty of the mountains remain. And those that are out, you know, to make a fast buck as the saying goes, I think could care less about the beauty. I think it's all to the beauty of Telluride. You can't look up at a ski mountain for instance with its trails cut and so on and and see it as a as a mountain from nature, you know untouched, it certainly looks different. It's the trick of balancing things it's a trick of making you know making some reasonable equation between the needs for for, and the need for economic robustness. Despite financial benefits to the state, the battle for the mountains continues as environmentalists challenge plans to build new ski resorts and expand existing ones.
The problem, it seems to me, and I think to most environmentalists is that the ski industry seems to have some sort of death wish to overdevelop. It wants to have ski areas around every mountain corner. And I'm not talking about little ski areas, I'm talking about BIG ski areas. You know, on the size of Copper Mountain, Vail even, the Aspen complex. I think that there is no -- no need has been shown to me for such grandiose development. We have, you know, many more ski lift operations than we've ever had in the past. And I think that that to some extent in the short term is going to cut against the probably the demand for additional ski areas. A source of friction has always been over the impact of ski resorts on wildlife. You know any time you cut trees you know it probably does affect things. What it does do, it enhances the wildlife. It truly does. And I spent a lot of time with the wildlife because there's
more areas that are open and we've seen an increase of game and wildlife on the mountain because we have opened up areas. Areas of timber which gets more grasslands and so forth and that's what the deer in the elk like. I don't believe that the ski areas have been permanently injurious to the elk herds. I think in some cases the deer herds are stronger today than they've ever been around some of the ski areas because I honestly believe that the deer enjoy the open space better than the virgin timber. When the ski areas talk about a ski area opening up development for wildlife, they're just whistling in the dark. They really don't know what they're talking about. There is no shortage of summer range. There is no shortage of where game animals can go in the summer. There's a lot o' high country with meadows and all that kind of thing they can go to. Winter range is what is short. Winter range is the critical determinant of wildlife populations in this state. This is a harsh environment. Winter range is found in the valleys.
Winter range is found along the streams. Winter range is found where the condominiums will be built. So when ski areas come up with that argument it is very easily shot down. I see a positive partnership developing with the ski industry. Once again there's been controversies. There's been head knocking in the past. I don't think that's going to happen in the future. We want as much as probably anybody on the western slope, to have the animals, the herds, the ambiance of the Old West. In the mountains, housing developments grow by the day transforming the valleys and hillsides into wood and concrete. While this means thriving towns the space for wildlife diminishes. Lots of people came to Colorado because they wanted to be in this wonderful state where we have all this wildlife. They buy a home in Elk Ridge Condominiums and there isn't any place for the elk anymore. It's kind of a kind of a. sad paradox.
You can't just willy nilly develop in your mountain valleys and along the rivers that the right parian environments without having a really severe impact, unless you are extremely careful. Now, big horn sheep, we may have a problem down the road as as we encroach more and more into the high mountains and into the wilderness areas. One of the interesting things we're doing with some of our outdoor areas is almost loving 'em to death. Where wildlife once roamed freely man's encroachments with housing, dams, reservoirs, shopping centers, highways and fences have altered the environment. If those decisions take wild life into account if they show concern for wildlife habitat we hang onto wildlife habitat habitat, then our kids are going to have what we have and better. We turn our back our life on wildlife, we won't have it. Depends on the people. Wildlife is one of the state's major industries. Each year, hunting and fishing contribute a billion dollars to Colorado's economy.
But unlike other governmental agencies the Division of Wildlife receives no state funds. The management of game species is supported through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. Money for the care and protection of non-game species and to threatened and endangered is derived entirely from the Colorado income tax check off. Game species are in excellent shape but only through greater public support can all wildlife be assured of a place to live. We estimate that we're going to need roughly three hundred million dollars over and above hunting and fishing license fee revenues over the next 15 years if we're going to keep up with what's happening in Colorado. Wildlife may be the greatest capital asset this state has. An investment in it is an investment in the future. Water is Colorado's most precious resource and in this conflict of competing needs water developers prey on wilderness water.
Aurora and Colorado Springs are two thirsty Front Range cities in the 1950s, they joined together to develop their own municipal water supply. They bought water rights and Homestake Valley, which is south of Vail in what is now the Holy Cross wilderness area. A court decree in nineteen sixty two approved two diversion projects taking water from the western slope to the eastern slope and creating a water system one hundred and eighty miles long. First developed was Homestake One using reservoirs, pipes and tunnels that diverted the water under the continental divide. When the Holy Cross wilderness area was established in 1980, the Homestake water projects were exempted. But when construction was to begin on home state two, many lawsuits were filed claiming that the ecology of the wilderness wetlands would be permanently damaged. Well, any time you do a trans-mountain diversion, there is a enormously expensive time consuming process where you
have to prove to unbiased entities, government entities, that you are not negatively impacting the wilderness area. We will do that with with this project, you do it with Two Forks, you do with any trans-mountain diversion. Homestake there has been enormous amount of money spent on that project. It's an environmentally sound project. What the environmentalists would like to see, of course, is, is a much gentler hand on the wilderness. We don't believe that it's necessary to dry up all those creeks. We believe that it's that it's certainly within the realm of possibility to have very definite flow requirements below those diversions. I'm not sure that you don't, in wilderness areas, you're so conscious about the environment there that you actually don't end up improving that area as it relates to what was there before you started.
There's no way to build the Homestake Two project in the Holy Cross wilderness area without destruction of wetlands. And without destruction of wilderness values, it just cannot be done no matter what Colorado Springs and Aurora say. Colorado Springs and Aurora say it will only affect six acres of wetlands. But they forget the very basic factor that if you tip one domino over, the other dominoes are going to follow. And our studies show and I was executive director of the Holy Cross Wilderness Defense Fund for some time and I believe that our study showed two hundred forty acres of wetlands at a minimum will be destroyed. If you own the land and the water rights associated with the land you own the water rights. That's law in the state of Colorado. So since Aurora and Colorado Springs have invested numerous or a large amount of money paying for these water rights we in fact own them and have title to the water. The issue of preserving wetlands in the home in the Holy Cross Wilderness area due to the home stake two project is very controversial and it's a classic confrontation because you have the
essence of a wilderness area up against the essence of a development and the two, just no matter what mitigation factors are involved, will never mesh completely. Colorado rivers wash out of the wilderness diverted and dammed but with stretches that run wild and free. In nineteen sixty eight, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was passed to preserve the spectacular beauty of free flowing streams and nearby landscapes. Segments of 12 Colorado rivers were studied and recommended for wild and scenic designation. One of these rivers was the Cache La Poudre near Fort Collins. The Poudre is the last of the free flowing rivers along the Front Range and had been coveted as a potential water and hydroelectric power resource. Dam would probably be located close downstream here. Preserve our Poudre environmentalists challenged the powerful coalition of agricultural, municipal, and industrial interests to have the Poudre protected under the wild and scenic rivers act. After 20 years of bickering
the two groups reached a compromise and Congress approved the designation in 1986. Seventy five miles were protected from development and on the undesignated stretches, water providers have the option of building future water projects. Well everybody'd like to have everything he wants, but I think as compromises go it was a pretty good one. What if you won it? We would have liked to have seen the whole river as studied designated. But all is not quiet along the Poudre. The recent 1.9 billion dollar plan to create a dam, reservoir and power plant near the mouth of the canyon has become a rallying point to keep the rest of the Poudre undammed. If the dam were built, you'd lose not only some parts of this trout fishery but you'd also lose quite a significant portion of the usable white water boating resources in the front range. Water developers maintain that to ensure a future water supply in case of drought, the project is necessary. Construction costs of the water system will be paid through generation of
power. This is basically not a water project it's a hydropower project that the benefits of the project will not accrue to those people in the state of Colorado but will only accrue to people outside the state of Colorado who will pay a price whether they know it or not because the next time they come to see this canyon it will be changed. Throughout Colorado whether water is dammed, diverted or used for power, it is essential to the recreational industry. Preserving water resources for recreation has become a volatile issue. No water project is stirring more controversy than the Two Forks dam and reservoir located on the South Platte River about 25 miles southwest of Denver. This project has the Metropolitan Water providers, a coalition of 43 minutes municipalities and water districts at the crossroads with environmentalists and river sportsmen. The issue is the age old
conflict. Water for future population growth versus destruction of wildlife habitat and a unique recreational area. It's probably the largest water project that would be undertaken in the state's history. In terms of active storage of water. Two Forks dam would ultimately have a reservoir of some 1.1 million acre feet. Two Forks, to me, is it's sort of the last of the first half of the 20th century concrete wonders, you know. It's one of these great big huge reservoirs you're gonna build in a very convenient canyon. And it gives engineers palpitations, you know, because it's so much fun. It gives concrete companies, you know, dreams of greenbacks. There are several costs attached to Two Fours. The most reliable figure we have at the moment is three hundred fifty six million dollars for actual
construction and engineering work. Now, in addition to that there will be environmental mitigation costs. Two Forks will be the seventh dam along the South Platte creating a 20 mile long lake. It would destroy the only remaining free flowing section of the river and inundate one of the metro Denver's most popular recreational areas. There are many environmental concerns. The primary one probably is the fishery along the South Platte River. It is an excellent fishing territory and that's going to be subject to mitigation which means that we will find and develop a suitable substitute. A few years, ago the Division of Wildlife designated nineteen miles of the river as a gold metal trout stream one of the best in the world. Destruction of wildlife habitat would be another major problem. There may be impacts on some of the wildlife in the canyon. Probably the best known is the herd of Rocky Mountain big horn sheep. There's also
concern over some migratory wildlife that may have access to range land cut off by the reservoir that may be elk, deer or even bear in this canyon. And of course arrangements would be made there to mitigate. In order to find the substitute a range or to find the means of taking care of their needs. Before construction can begin, an environmental impact statement is required. The United States Army Corps of Engineers, United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will decide if Two Forks will be approved or disapproved and how environmental damages can be mitigated. The cost of litigation will be extremely high ranging over one hundred million dollars. (background speaker) My comments relate to the need for the Two Forks Project to the cost of . . .(foreground speaker) We believe that when systems are already suffering, (inaudible end of sentence) The federal regulatory role (background speaker) The environmental impact study requires citizen involvement in the decision-making process. Hearings are being held to solicit comments from the public.
City officials in the metro area urge approval of Two Forks testifying that by the 21st century, for an estimated population of three million, more water will be needed. A city of 130,000 people, we are one of the Metropolitan Water providers. Lakewood does believe that the environmental impact statement is adequate and complete. Two Forks will provide less than one half of the projected metropolitan area's water needs. So time spent on population projections will still not resolve the particular issue because if these population figures are off even 10 percent or 20 percent, the need is still there. Many of those testifying at the hearings are members of state, local and national environmental organizations. Two years ago they thought the possible extinction of a rare butterfly, the Pawnee Montane Skipper, would delay and even stop the construction. But a study determined that if the skipper had survived the ice age it could survive the Two
Forks. Now environmentalists plea to just save the Platte. It will be saddled with a legacy of environmental disaster of a size and scope few if any can comprehend if this project is allowed to proceed. Gentleman I fished this stream with my grandfather, my father, my children and hopefully in a few years my grandchildren and I hope they have the opportunity to do that in the future. There are still a number of hurdles yet to go over before Two Forks will become a reality. A lot depends upon the outcome of the environmental impact statement. The negotiations over mitigation, continuing funding arrangements and a number of other factors. Two Forks is so far down the line that it's like a snowball going downhill. It's very - You can throw throw ourselves in front of it, if we want, but I think it's going to be a very difficult project to stop. Once the project is built, I think that we're going to realize that the population projections that were used in this were out of line and what we may end up with will be a
monumental monument to stupidity. Two Forks is a win-lose situation. The need for more water to satisfy population growth is inevitable. But if Two Forks is built, the river will be gone forever. (sound of rushing water in the background) Another area where we're in trouble as in terms of water quality. We have serious problems in this state. Residual problems were left over from the States that were made in residual problems that have been leftover from the way we treated water. And quantity and quality go together and that affects not only fish and fisheries but it affects wildlife along those trains, along the banks of those lakes. One of the positive results of mountain development is the concerted effort by the towns to clean up the streams. (sound of rushing water in background) A good example is Telluride on the San Miguel river. For many years, water laden with harmful minerals has been pouring out of a mine tunnel. Along the banks, the dust from old mill tailings must be controlled by a sprinkling system. In the future. the tailings will be removed and the banks revegetated. (music)
(music in background) The mineral hunt will always threaten the mountains and many of Colorado's minerals are found in its most beautiful places. (music in the background) Mining is a destructive industry. (background music) A century ago, miners came in search of the earth's treasures and left behind a gutted landscape. Eventhough mining companies are required to reclaim the land. mining today can still result in irreversible damage. This is like city in the high country near Gunnison. A future alunite mine that would supply 5 percent of the nation's aluminum could shear off the top of Red Mountain, the town's scenic backdrop. Why most of the people that come here are from Texas and Oklahoma and they come here because it's quiet and serene, it's a beautiful place.
Well we're moving the mountain. It's going to take away a very valuable scenic thing that can be seen anywhere in the in the area. It stands out like a sore thumb. When it's not there, it'll just leave a big gap in the area. Well as I understand it, they'll remove the outer car and mine the core and they will completely take the mountain down and there'll be over a period of many years. It will bring in a lot of people and create a heavier demand on the local water and sewer and roads and school. Most of the people just don't want to see any anything like that happen here. It'll turn it into, I think, a dusty dirty little mining town. If the demand for the alunite
become such then I think we'll see it. Let's sell and get out because it wouldn't be the same place. It just -- I think, just totally change it. The thing of changing the tax structure, what happens, is a question of what would happen if and when the mine closes down and leaves. You'd have all this all this stuff that needs to be paid for and you're back to the original population of the town and all the changes. Who's going to pay for it? (background sound of rushing water) At Climax, on the shoulder of the Continental Divide, since 1940 Amex has been mining molybdenum, Molly as it is called, which is used in hardening steel. A whole mountain has been carved away. Below, a waste filled lake is slowly being reclaimed by Amax corporation. But in spite of the damage to the environment Amax brought economic survival to Leadville, a town from the 1870s that rose
and fell with silver mining. When Amax wanted to mine Mount Emmons in the ski resort town of Crested Butte, local residents filed lawsuits to prevent the opening of the billion dollar mine. They wanted to save their mountain -- affectionately called Red Lady. Protest delayed the project, and when the Molly market crashed in 1984 Amax put the mining of Mount Emmons on hold. Our United States government is based on free enterprise. If you own something and are willing to spend the money to take care of that property and do the right thing environmentally, they and I think that you should have the right to develop and operate the property that you own. That's that's my that's my honest opinion of it. I should say that we're not against mining persay but the size and the scope and then some of the rudimentary plans that they had just didn't quite fit in with
we felt was our lifestyle, our recreational dependence, which is our main activity and income. They was misled from the start. They got a lot of the wrong information about miners and they think it would bring in a new class of people that the ski are and that couldn't live with. Well I don't, I just can't believe that, knowing both classes of people. I just I just can't believe that that would have that effect. People who've been here for a long time the long time residents who are miners they, of course, wanted mining to strengthen the economy. Business people in the town and area, I think would be tickled to death because that would be the difference in picking up that economy in the off seasons to where they could afford to stay in business and make money. If they fight Amax too much, Amax is big enough
they can go up there and buy the ski area and poof. Then where they at? Mining is also the basis for conflict over the designation of the Oh Be Joyful Valley as a wilderness area. Just north of Crested Butte, Oh Be Joyful is used extensively for summer recreation: hiking, fishing and bicycle riding. Twice it has been turned down for wilderness designation because of potential mineral deposits. I've told several of the people in town that these mountains are God's warehouses. That's where He has stored all these vital metals. Everything you want - coal, everything. On the surface He used the surface for wood, for lumber, for building homes, and for everything else. So I just can't I just can't agree with that with that wilderness area in that particular area. We want it in the area because we thought the possibilities of mining were very minimal. Crested Butte awaits the fate of Oh Be Joyful and
the future mining of Mount Emmons. For now it concentrates on summer and winter recreation. The ski resort's advertising slogan boasts, "God forbid we should ever be like Aspen or Vail." Here in the background. are the Maroon Bells that guard the Maroon Bells Snowmass wilderness area near Aspen. The wilderness acts of 1964 and 1980 set aside 2.6 million acres of Colorado's most beautiful and unspoiled land and designated an additional 1.3 million acres to be studied for wilderness designation. Because of congressional politics, no more acreage has been added. With passage of the Wilderness Acts, environmentalists won a victory but there is still apprehension about the future when the pressure to develop natural resources will modify wilderness protection. The Maroon Bells Snowmass wilderness area was saved from gas and oil drilling when former
Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, was forced to resign. It has weathered the reopening of a silver mine but is now threatened with a black marble quarry. Mining is prohibited in wilderness areas. No roads can be built and no motorized vehicles are allowed. But in many of the designated wilderness areas are patented mineral rights legal claims that were filed before the wilderness designations. If the claims are permitted to be developed, the future foretells a stormy clash between mine owners and environmentalists. In the taming of the mountains, the Forest Service finds itself at the center of the controversy. The agency along with the Bureau of Land Management regulates public lands, the national forests and the wilderness areas. In making the decisions on how the timbered land should be used or preserved, the Forest Service is either loved or hated praised or derided. It is a difficult and unpopular role.
It's all right to cut trees, it's all right to explore for oil and gas and minerals, it's all right to graze cattle, all right to build campgrounds and roads and it's all right to have wilderness. All of those things are possible now, not on every acre but some combination on each acre. And that's a difference that many people don't understand that the National Forests are working for us by statute. (mooing cattle) Early cattle and sheep ranchers consider the forest theirs. (cows mooing) But the passage of the Taylor Grazing Act in 1034 required a fee and a permit for grazing. Fifty years late, there are still complaints about the cost to graze and the scarcity of permits. The most emotional issue that environmentalists have with the Forest Service is over logging and
mainly clear cutting. To many who love the forests, (sound of saws) the buzzing of chainsaws the sound of crashing trees and the devastation on the forest floor creates anger and dismay. The man with the axe is not the man to preserve the tree and the Forest Service has proven that. Not because they're evil people but because from their point of view that's what the tree is, a source of lumber, not a source of air of oxygen of water, of all of the things that it does. It's very difficult to convince someone that clear cutting is necessary if they are dead set against it. A clear cut immediately after the job is done, it may not be an attractive site however neither is a large fire immediately after the fire is out. A very attractive site. Neither are stands of trees ravaged by insects and
disease a very attractive site. And a nature, that's really the options. I don't think they're doing any of the horrendous cuts they used to be doing but it still it's a matter of degree some people will say that any clear cut over six acres would be environmental disaster other people say no you can cut areas of 25 or 30 acres in certain areas. So, now we're down to a matter of I think discussing degrees of clear cuttings. On this clear cut in the San Juan Mountains near Mancus, regeneration is taking place. Small aspen trees in various stages of growth are slowly rebuilding a new forest. So this was harvested in June, right? So it's been about four months . About four months (inaudible) are about two feet high. Some of them are three. And next And next year they'll be what four to five feet. It's a nice looking cut. Well designed. We have a grave concern about this combination of small timber sales and road building that leapfrogs
the development from a point at the edge of a national forest. Over the years many miles into the National Forest. So while the Forest Service has done a good job in cutting the size down of many of its clear cuts. The forest service still seems to be in the road business. Well the Forest Service is not in the road building business although we do build roads. The difference there is that we don't build roads for roads' sake. We build roads to accomplish other objectives. It might be to have timber harvested, it might be to access a campground, it might be to access trailheads. For all of those reasons, we build roads to get people to the woods, into the woods, and products and goods and services. It isn't building
roads just for the sake of building roads. Roads are necessary to remove timber but opponents claim that the logging is an economic loser and that roads cause soil erosion, impact on wildlife and make vast areas unsuitable for wilderness preservation. Generally timber sales lose money because it costs more to put in the roads to haul out the logs when the government gets back and it sells the wood. Others argue that harvesting keeps both the forest and local economies healthy. Although Colorado is not a prime logging state, the timber industry does provide employment in the high country for forests of lodgepole pine and aspen are sold and processed. Many Coloradoans consider the Aspen with its mantle of quivering yellow leaves a golden possession to be preserved regardless of economic benefit. Here in Olathe the Louisiana Pacific corporation is grinding up Aspen
adding glue and a veneer and turning out a lightweight wood called wafer board. You simply need not be the core (?) that tends to be promoted between economic development and recreational use of the mountain environment. It's in the long run the multiple and combination of uses is very compatible. Better transportation and improved highways have given more access to the high country. People come not to exploit the mountains but find serenity in the relationship between nature and mankind. Colorado is fortunate to have millions of acres preserved in state parks, wildlife refuges, water recreation areas, national wilderness, forests and national parks. But some of these places are suffering the ravages of too many visitors. West of Boulder and close to the Denver
metro area is a seventy four thousand acre Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. Visitors step from their cars into this so-called wilderness. Easy access has resulted in misuse. Eroded trails and campsites have scarred the land. Lakes and streams have been fouled and litter left behind by those who fail to understand the value of nature. Its popularity is the very thing that threatens it most. Because of the greater number of visitors, now a permit is required for overnight camping. At the trailhead you'll find a small green box that says, "Wilderness campers please deposit stubs here." We'd like for you to leave us these stubs. That lets us know that you really did take your trip. This however may not be enough to save Indian Peaks. Last year two and a half million people visited Rocky Mountain National Park. It was established in 1915 to conserve the scenery and wildlife and to maintain the park unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.
One of the most common kinds of questions that I get about Rocky Mountain National Park is that is it becoming overcrowded. And that's in the eye of the beholder what's overcrowding to one person is wilderness to another. Rocky Mountain National Park because of its popularity has had to develop ways to reduce the impact of traffic and people. At the lake, we have one of the busiest locations in the park. And we'll have thousands of people there on a busy summer day. Perhaps as many as thirty five hundred cars which is somewhere around 10,000 people at Bear Lake. This means that there's a lot of impact on the vegetation, on the lake shore, on parking, on trails. So we have a shuttle bus system that takes a lot of people perhaps half of the number that go there will ride the shuttle bus. We do pave the trails around Bear Lake with asphalt. The reason for that is that there is such a
heavy use of some of those trails that erosion washing dirt into the little lake and the cost of maintaining the trails would be just more of an impact than we feel that the area can stand. In this old homestead under the shadow of Long's Peak lived Enos Mills, an early conservationist. Mills more than anyone else was responsible for establishing the Rocky Mountain National Park. His daughter Indaniel (SP?)Kylie comments on what Enos Mills would say now about the park. He would be distressed that there are so many people on the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park who really don't benefit. They don't hear the sounds of silence. They don't take a moment to discover the stories and the changes as they climb up they're in a hurry. They don't see the interest along the way. They don't realize that that the
show is as they climb up a mountain or go to a lake and that reaching the destination is just secondary. There is the assumption that the park with its 70 years of protective management will always be able to keep this refuge untainted by civilization. To what extent this will be true depends upon adequate resources and how well the hordes of visitors respect the park terrain and wildlife. We find that efforts that we make to protect wildlife through signing through restrictions are being observed much less by the general public than they were 10 years ago. And we have much more difficulty getting people to comply with those kinds of behaviors that are really necessary in order to keep wildlife from being harassed. And I think attitudes are growing more difficult to deal with. It's very unfortunate.
One of the most difficult problems facing Rocky Mountain National Park is the urbanization along the park boundary. The development has already affected the 4000 elk that live on the east side of the park. They are an important tourist attraction, especially in the fall when their bugling echoes in the valley. Few tourists realize that because of urbanization, the park land is being overgrazed and a severe winter could lead to mass starvation of the elk (sound of bugling elk). Our feeling is that right now what's happening is that the winter range is being used to its maximum. And that elk are migrating outside of the park on the private lands and then trying to find ways through those private lands. The result is that there's a lot of lot of people on private property who don't want that many elk in their backyard.
And then of course there's no hunting of that herd so it continues to increase. Because the elk population has grown too large and the winter range continues to deteriorate. The park service has developed a cooperative program with the State Division of Wildlife and Forest Service to mitigate the problem. If it is not successful then we'll have to take some action to protect the park such as trapping and transplanting the elk. Or perhaps reducing the herd by shooting. While traveling Trail Ridge Road along the old elk trail there is the feeling that Rocky Mountain National Park will withstand man's intrusion. One of the few places that will always be protected and revered. Colorado's uniqueness is its beauty, its central location and the talent of its people. And if you do not build upon those economically we're going to sink down and be like the middle we'll be a part of the pack. We don't want to be a part of the pact we want to rise above it economically in terms of quality of life. To do that you've got to reach for what assets you have and preserve them, enlarge upon them. And the beauty of the
state and its natural resources is a part of that advantage. In the battle for the mountains. the challenge is how to preserve our wilderness heritage and at the same time give economic vitality to the state. Growth has already tarnished the land destroyed the silence and disturbed the wildlife. For those who remember an earlier time, the change is hard to accept. Colorado cannot ignore the development of its resources. To do so would prevent economic progress. But the mountains are a priceless possession and unless protected will be lost for future generations. The choice is ours. There's room for the wildlife, there's room for the cattlemen, there's room for the wilderness experience, there's room for the fly fisherman and there's room for the ski area. I'd rather a mine dump than a ski area myself. Nobody calls the water developers bigots, you know. Nobody calls the ski area developers
bigots. Nobody calls the forest service timber interest bigot, Bigots you know. It's only the environmentalists that are called bigots and that I resent. The future of wildlife in Colorado depends on the people of Colorado and I'll just repeat that again and again. The old timers don't have the power in the development because there aren't any left. There is always somebody opposed to anything one tries to do. We've always won. I mean, we have a history of winning so I think for our own sake we have to not develop the mountains to an extent that that quality of life was lost. We've reached a point where it's clear that we need to find ways to live on the land where we replenish it and cherish it and it is also the return.
- Battle for the Mountains
- Producing Organization
- Rocky Mountain PBS
- Contributing Organization
- Rocky Mountain PBS (Denver, Colorado)
- AAPB ID
- Program Description
- BATTLE FOR THE MOUNTAINS is an hour documentary about Colorado's high country which will be broadcast on Channel Six Friday, June 26, 1987 at 9pm and repeated on Sunday, June 28, 1987 at 11:30am. The focus is on the issue of whether the beauty of the mountains can be preserved when the thrust is for more economic development. The program ties together all the forces that are impacting on the high country: the ski industry, housing development, timber and mining interests, water providers and tourism. Development means financial gain for the state, corporations and individuals but the utilization of mountain resources adversely affects wildlife habitat, wilderness areas, water for recreational activities and destroys the esthetic value of Colorado's spectacular mountains. The documentary thoroughly explores a very controversial issue. Through extensive interviews the clash of opinions between developers, governmental officials, environmentalist s and local residents illustrates that although money is precious so is the pristine environment that development invades. There are no easy answers. To illustrate this complex problem, the documentary features a proposed ski resort at Quail Mountain, ski development in Telluride; Two Forks and Aurora's Homestake II water projects and the Cache la Poudre designation as a Wild and Scenic River. The Forest Service argues the merits of logging with environmentalists. Although mining is a depressed industry, residents of Crested Butte and Lake City stand guard to prevent future mining of their scenic mountains. Tourism is considered the panacea to shore up Colorado's faltering economy, but the impact of more tourists and more visitors is destroying nature's delicate balance. Indian Peakd Wilderness Area is overcrowded and Rocky Mountain National Park with its seventy years of protective management is having a difficult time preserving the Park terrain. BATTLE FOR THE MOUNTAIN is a thoughtful presentation of the dilemma Colorado faces today. Development of the mountain resources may be the key to Colorado's progress but the mountains are Colorado's priceless possession and unless protected will be lost for future generations. While the documentary is packed with information, one of the unusual features is the beautiful mountain scenery that covers the snows of winter, greenness of summer and golden trees of fall.
- Media type
- Moving Image
Executive Producer: Mrachek, Lin
Narrator: Mrachek, Lin
Producing Organization: Rocky Mountain PBS
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Rocky Mountain PBS (KRMA)
Identifier: 001.75.2007.0639 (Stations Archived Memories (SAM))
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Battle for the Mountains,” 1987-00-00, Rocky Mountain PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 30, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-52-9351cfv6.
- MLA: “Battle for the Mountains.” 1987-00-00. Rocky Mountain PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 30, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-52-9351cfv6>.
- APA: Battle for the Mountains. Boston, MA: Rocky Mountain PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-52-9351cfv6