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NATURE UNDER ATTACK? State of Colorado Argues That “Cache la Poudre River” Doesn’t Legally Exist

July 30, 2020
For Immediate Release
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre, 970-218-8310

NATURE UNDER ATTACK? State of Colorado Argues That “Cache la Poudre River” Doesn’t Legally Exist

Cache la Poudre River, CO: Today, our local river-protection organization, Save The Poudre, which has about 1,000 members in and around Fort Collins, filed a stinging legal brief against the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) after CDPHE filed a brief two weeks ago trying to kick the “Cache la Poudre River” out of a legal challenge against a huge environmentally destructive dam project.

The Cache la Poudre River begins in the pristine mountain peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park and flows down an 80-mile canyon before it reaches the town of Fort Collins in Colorado. The Cache la Poudre is the only “National Wild and Scenic River” in Colorado as designated by an Act of Congress. Just west of Fort Collins, a regional government dam-building agency has been trying to build a huge dam for the last 20 years that would further drain and deplete the river through Fort Collins. Our organization, Save The Poudre, has been in a bitter and long-term fight against the proposed dam — called the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) — as we try to protect the river’s flow of water for the benefit of people and environment.

Earlier in 2020, the CDPHE — whose director is appointed by Governor Jared Polis — gave a “401 water quality certification” to NISP arguing that the massive dam-and-diversion project would not impair the water quality in the Poudre River. We are challenging that permit through the legal process, and now we are fighting for the legal life itself of the Cache la Poudre River against this state agency.

Our “administrative appeal” argues that both our group, “Save The Poudre”, and the “Cache la Poudre River” are legally entitled to challenge the state 401 certification. Both legal entities are adversely affected by NISP.  The river would be severely drained and depleted by NISP — the list of negative impacts include the degradation of fish habitat, an increase in pollution including E coli bacteria, an increase in algae due to lower flows and warmer water, the drying up of water-cleansing wetlands, and others.

Obviously it’s the river’s health and water quality that we are arguing about — the State of Colorado and the U.S. government both have laws protecting the water quality in the river under the Clean Water Act — and so it’s clear that the river itself should be a named plaintiff in this legal action in addition to our organization, Save The Poudre.

The State of Colorado, joining with the dam-building agency, is trying to “dismiss” the river out of the legal fight altogether. Using obscure internet definitions of the word “entity”, the State argues in its Motion to Dismiss on July 16, 2020, that the Cache la Poudre River is a “watershed” but is not an “entity” and has no legal standing in the fight.

We fired back in our Response Brief today that the Cache la Poudre River is an “entity” by any reasonable definition of the word. Further, the Cache la Poudre obviously has legal rights because state and federal law regulate the water quality in the river as well as the existence of the river itself — in fact, several pollutants in the river are monitored and regulated, the City of Fort Collins’ wastewater treatment discharge into the river is meticulously regulated, the river has been given legal standing as “Wild and Scenic” by an Act of Congress, and sections of the river are listed as legally “impaired” by the CDPHE (see report here, slide #14). Finally, we argue that the City of Fort Collins makes repeated and significant claims that the Cache la Poudre River is important for the “social, environmental, and economic vitality” of the community, and thus the river itself has every legal right to participate in this battle as well as any court of law.

This battle is not the same as the “Rights of Nature” court battle that occurred back in 2018 over the Colorado River (see story here). In that battle, plaintiffs were trying to confer new legal standing to the Colorado River that never before had been recognized by courts, although a past U.S. Supreme Court ruling mentioned that “Rights of Nature” are needed. Our legal battle on the Cache la Poudre River is simply trying to name the river itself as an injured party that can defend itself. Obviously, the Cache la Poudre River is an injured party in this entire debacle.

The State of Colorado and the dam-building agency are not trying to dismiss our organization, “Save The Poudre”, from the legal battle, and so there’s no risk that our challenge to the state permit won’t continue. The legal challenge over the state permit is playing out this Fall with a final hearing before the governor-appointed “Colorado Water Quality Control Commission” in November. Further, if the Commission rules against us in the broader state permit appeal, we can then file a lawsuit in state court — thus, the battle to fight the dam and save the Poudre will continue whether the “Cache la Poudre River” is named or not.

There’s no doubt that government agencies at all levels are working to undermine environmental laws to allow more and more dams and destruction of our environment and rivers. Federal attacks against the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act are playing out right now. But, this effort by the State of Colorado to disallow the naming of the Cache la Poudre River as an injured party in a legal proceeding seems to represent a new cudgel against protecting the natural world. In our Response Brief, we point out that the Cambridge dictionary defines an “entity” as “something having its own independent existence.” The State of Colorado CDPHE is trying to set a legal precedent that nature — and especially rivers in Colorado — do not independently exist.

The Cache la Poudre River is in the fight of its life against this proposed dam, and now is in a fight against the State of Colorado to legally exist at all.

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This press release is posted here.

 

TAKE ACTION: Ask Larimer County Commissioners To Suspend NISP Permitting During Coronavirus Pandemic Emergency

Hi Amazing Poudre River Lovers!

We understand and appreciate that this is a difficult time for all of you. First and foremost, do everything you can to stay healthy and take care of yourself and your loved ones. Second — we are working hard and need your assistance. 

During this emergency pandemic that has paralyzed the government and economy, Larimer County actually triggered the permitting process for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and we need you to send an email to the Larimer County Commissioners.

You can send them an email by clicking here.

The State of Colorado has declared a “State of Emergency” due to the coronavirus pandemic, and we believe it gives the Larimer County Commissioners broad discretion to suspend the permitting process for NISP until a normal, public process can take place. Right now, the County has unleashed 911 pages of highly technical documents that the public — and Save The Poudre — needs to digest, only given us 42 days to analyze these documents, and set a public hearing date of May 6th. All of this at the exact time when people are supposed to “social distance” and limit public gatherings.

NISP has been in federal permitting processes for SEVENTEEN YEARS. Thousands of comments have been generated, and tens-of-thousands of documents are in the public record responding to NISP. It’s simply ridiculous to rush through this Larimer County permit process when the public is completely engaged in other matters protecting their health and families, and worrying for their financial future.

Please send the Commissioners a respectful email by clicking here asking them to suspend the NISP permitting process.

We have a team of scientists working hard to make sure the Poudre River keeps flowing while almost everything else has been shut off by this pandemic. It is your past support that keeps us working hard.

Thank you, and stay healthy,

Gary Wockner
Director, Save The Poudre

Poudre River Supporters turn out in droves again to fight for the Poudre!

One hundred more people voiced their concerns at the Larimer County Commissioners second hearing on the Thornton Pipeline Proposal this week.  The Commissioners will hold a third meeting on August 1st to hear the rest of the comments.

Attend the meeting on August 1st and add your voice to ours by asking the the Commissioners to “DENY” the Permit For The Thornton Pipeline and tell Thornton to send their water down the Poudre.   

Or, send the Commissioners an Action Alert Email right here.  http://www.savethepoudre.org/take-action/send-action-alert-email/

Find out more about the pipeline proposal at https://nopipedream.com/why%3F

JUNE 22: John Fielder, 50th Anniversary, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

June 22, 7:00pm
Lincoln Center, Magnolia Room

Tickets $10 here: https://www.lctix.com/john-fielder

Please join legendary Colorado nature photographer, John Fielder, in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. John will showcase some of this wonderful photography on the big screen in the Magnolia Theater, including photos of the Dolores River, Yampa River, and our own

 

Cache la Poudre River. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was created by Congress in 1968 and now includes 208 sections of rivers across the U.S. The Cache la Poudre River is the only designated Wild and Scenic River in the state of Colorado. Save The Poudre is hosting John Fielder to celebrate the anniversary and the Cache la Poudre’s unique Wild and Scenic status.

John Fielder has worked tirelessly to promote the protection of Colorado’s environment during his 35-year career as a nature photographer and publisher. His photography has influenced people and legislation, earning him recognition including the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award in 1993 and, in 2011, the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s first Achievement Award given to an individual. Over 40 books have been published depicting his Colorado photography. He teaches photography workshops to adults and children, and his latest books are and Wildflowers of Colorado and A Colorado Winter. He lives in Summit County, Colorado. 30% of proceeds to benefit Save the Poudre. Information about John and his work can be found at johnfielder.com.

Did you see the Poudre River on TV Yesterday?

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

Did you see the Poudre River on TV Yesterday?

Channel 7 in Denver did a profile of Save The Poudre’s work to protect the Poudre River in northern Colorado. We told them the story point-blank: The Northern Integrated Supply Project would further drain and destroy the Poudre River, and it must be stopped!

Yesterday, we also sent you a fundraising email letting you know that it’s “Go Time” for our efforts to fight this massive river-draining dam project in court. It’s been 15 years, but 2018 will be the year where we need to raise as much money as possible to plan and carry out our legal work.

You’ve stayed with us for 15 years, and now it’s time to run through the tape to the finish line.

Can you please donate to Save The Poudre today?

Click here to donate online.

We are working hard! And we will work even harder with your support!

Thank you!
Gary Wockner
Director, Save The Poudre

The NISP “Final Environmental Impact Statement” is coming

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

After 15 years, it appears the “Final Environmental Impact Statement” for NISP will be released in May or June. We have word from the City of Fort Collins that the timeline is likely, and so we need to gear up!

We have a team of scientists and attorneys who standing by to sink their teeth into the documents. We’ve been at it for 15 years, and we’re just getting warmed up! We also ask all of you — our AMAZING supporters — to also gear up! We will need volunteers to help review the document, and we will need funding to help pay scientific experts.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Gary Wockner
Director, Save The Poudre

PARTY TIME: Join Us At Save The Poudre’s End-Of-Year Party, Dec. 4th

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

Please join us on Dec. 4th for our year-end party! We will update you on all of our work, tell you what happened this year, and what’s going to happen next year with our almost-15 year fight against the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

In addition, our guest speaker will be former Fort Collins City Councilmember and Sierra Club Raconteur Alan Apt who has a new book out. Published by the Colorado Mountain Club and titled, Ski and Snowshoe Routes on Colorado’s Front Range, the book describes and maps the best routes all along the Front Range mountains all within easy driving distance of Larimer County. Alan will also generously donate a portion of book sales to Save The Poudre at the event! Alan has a great slideshow, and his book might make a perfect holiday gift for a snow-loving friend or family member.

WHAT: SAVE THE POUDRE YEAR-END PARTY
WHERE: AVOGADRO’S NUMBER, 605 S. Mason Street, Fort Collins
WHEN: MONDAY, DEC. 4th, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Please click thru to the Facebook event to let us know you’re coming here: https://www.facebook.com/events/306486349867915/

SEE YOU THERE!
THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT!

 

Welcome to our new website!

Hi Poudre River Lovers!

At the end of Nov. 2017, we launched this new website! We believe it will be easier, faster, and more mobile for you all to stay in touch with us and learn what we are doing. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we finalize it.

And thank you for your support!

Gary Wockner
Executive Director
Save The Poudre

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