"Reservoir opponents have rocks in their heads
If you thought dealing with Puebloans was tough, you haven’t gotten down in the mud with a paleontologist. Don’t let the pith helmets, rumpled safari shirts and Coke-bottle glasses fool you; with federal environmental laws on their side, they can be tougher than they look.
Tough enough to derail a reservoir project critical to this city’s future? We’ll see.
As if Colorado Springs Utilities didn’t have enough problems building the Southern Delivery System, someone with Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science claims that there’s a “regionally and globally significant” fossil trove where the Jimmy Camp Creek Reservoir is supposed to go. It includes petrified trees and fossils of early mammals.
Kirk Johnson, chief curator and vice president of research and collections at Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science, has sent a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, strongly encouraging “decision makers to consider alternate sites for the proposed reservoir.” And the bureau is required by law to take such requests seriously, given the fetish federal agencies make of the “public process” and of assessing every conceivable environmental impact.
Problem is, Colorado Springs Utilities has spent $6.4 million buying 400 of the 1,874 acres required for the reservoir, and must before long decide whether to spend many millions more acquiring the rest. Colorado Springs needs somewhere to store the water it plans to pipe up from Pueblo. And it’s absurd to have all this jeopardized by the presence of some petrified logs.
CSU’s Gary Bostrum told The Gazette that there’s an alternative site, the Upper Williams Creek Reservoir, if this becomes an insurmountable obstacle. But what “rare” animal or plant species, “globally significant” fossils or “important” archaeological sites might be found along upper Williams Creek if one looks hard enough? And can’t similar issues be raised about any other site one chooses?
The answer isn’t in trying to stay one step ahead of the obstructionists. That’s futile. It’s in confronting them, telling them they must be out of their minds — and in reminding people of all that they have to lose if such absurdities prevail and we don’t get our priorities straight.
For this city, at this point in time — and given how much is riding on this project’s success or failure — a place to store water is much more important than safeguarding a glorified gravel pit. And the needs of the people must in this case trump those of the paleontologists.
If federal law says otherwise, federal law is absurd and should be modified or overturned.
These fossils may or may not be as important as Johnson says. But if they’ve survived 65 million years of geologic upheaval, they’ll survive the relatively short-term presence of a reservoir. The needs of the living must take precedence.
You can’t drink a fossil, wash with a fossil, flush your toilet with a fossil. For this and more, water is critical. And if we don’t show a little more common sense, and a stronger instinct for survival, we’ll be the lost civilization future archeologists will be sifting through, wondering what went wrong."
I can tell you what went wrong. Humans could not adapt and over populated their planet while not taking car eof their limited resources.
Thanks to Margaret for the heads up on this one.