October 12, 2020
Chaffee County Board of Commissioners c/o Jon Roorda
104 Crestone Avenue
Salida, CO 81202
This document is an addendum to our original letter and will serve to revise that letter of support dated March 15, 2020. The current Colorado 1041 permit held by Nestle Waters North America (NWNA) to extract spring water at the former Hagen Fish Hatchery site (Ruby Mountain) is up for renewal. The Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited (CPC-TU) supports renewal of the permit with the conditions listed below.
Monitoring data from multiple on-site wells over the last 10-year period indicate ”There has been no negative impacts or injury to the flows or water rights by the Nestle well pumping and use.” This is a recent quote from Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. The annual consumption of spring water has been almost 50% less than the amount allowed under the original permit. Therefore, we believe that renewal of the existing permit is justified so long as all the conditions enumerated below are met.
The Lot Line Adjustment between the Nestle property and the adjacent landowner, Laurie Jacobson yields no net acreage change to either parcel. The lot line adjustment better protects Nestle’s water supply and springs and facilitates potential expansion of the reclamation project described in the conditions listed below. CPC-TU sees only positive outcomes with the lot line adjustment including providing more river access and opportunities for enhanced wildlife habitat. The NWNA property protects and preserves a significant stretch of established riparian area. This green ribbon following the upper Arkansas watercourse is part of only 3% to 5% of the total land area in Colorado but supports over 85% of all species at some point in their life cycle.
NWNA is in process for creating a large conservation easement for the vast majority of the NWNA site. Such a conservation easement would preserve open space, maintain wildlife habitat and movement corridors and provide wildlife (Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep) viewing opportunities near the entrance to Browns Canyon National Monument. The lot line adjustment improves and does not diminish the conservation easement.
Conditions required for approval of the permit renewal:
- The education component, part of the original development plan must be completed. There are
interpretive graphic sign stands but limited educational/interpretive signs installed. Signs should be installed describing the habitat improvements NWNA has made for wildlife, and fish along with other educational information on local flora and fauna.
- Additional reclamation/reconstruction of the area to the south and southwest of the pumphouses must be completed and maintained. There must be input from riparian area restoration experts and an aquatic biologist regarding possible reconfiguration of the ponds and appropriate reconstruction of the old ditches into meandering streams with features to hold fish and to potentially provide spawning habitat.
- Use by anglers and birders must be enhanced by reconfiguring the steep slope from the river edge up to the level bench at the top to include an intermediate walkable path to direct and control visitor movement and river access.
- NWNA must collaborate with Chaffee County Road Department to achieve the best re-build of County Road 300 along the one-lane section adjacent to the southernmost pond, a location with significant impact to a portion of the site that must be reconfigured.
- Although the reclaimed area will remain closed to the general public, provision must be made for special use access by groups such as Colorado Mountain College, CPC-TU, Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) and other approved groups for educational purposes on watershed restoration, fish habitat and behavior, angling instruction and wetlands (Bighorn Springs) purpose.
- NWNA must establish the Conservation Easement by completing the process no later than three years after the date of the permit renewal.
- NWNA must continue to actively pursue implementation of the Closed Loop Fund for finding solutions to the critical plastic recycling gap. While NWNA is not the sole source of this trash, they can be part of the solution. In 2017, NWNA committed $6 million to the Closed Loop Fund. Demonstrated positive impacts on the upper Arkansas River valley from implementing the CLF objectives or other efforts to mitigate the recycling challenges in the valley must be provided no later than three years after the date of permit renewal.
- The permit renewal must include limiting the annual consumption of spring water to the current level of consumption (approximate level of consumption over the last ten years).
- NWNA must explore moving the funds held for the school districts from the Denver Foundation to the Chaffee County Community Foundation (CCCF).
- NWMA must strive to be a good corporate neighbor by continuing their philosophical and monetary support of local non-profits and other similar groups that are doing good for others.
Keith Krebs, Chapter President
Collegiate Peaks Chapter – Trout Unlimited