by Madeline Dean, Ross Montessori School student
Homestake Creek probably has a home in its name for a reason. Home... a place everyone is familiar with, and comes in all shapes and sizes. Although I might not live in Homestake, the places I like to go there do feel like home.
This place has been in my life for what seems like forever. The first time I went up to Homestake I was around the age of seven, and I have been going up there with my family ever since. I’m always very excited for the next great adventure that is only an hour away from where I live.
There is a plan to flood an area of land along Homestake Creek in rural Eagle County. The companies wanting to do this are Colorado Springs Utilities and Aurora Water. They want to create a new reservoir that is not currently needed. There is enough water for both cities using the water delivery systems they already have.
For this reservoir they want to remove 497 actors from the Wilderness boundary, and flood an area of rare wetlands called fens. This reservoir would hold 20,000 acre feet of water but there is already a reservoir not far above called Homestake Reservoir. The values of Homestake Reservoir are very important to wildlife, anglers, campers, and my family.
This beautiful area is full of natural wetlands, even the land itself is a blessing. I’m going to go into fen wetlands a little bit more so you know how special they really are. By telling you how these wetlands are made. It’s a very rare type of wetland called fen. A fen is a type of wetland that formed when the glaciers retreated. This glacier-formed wetlands hold all manners of surprises and wonders including a vast amount of fairy slippers orchids that you can easily stumble upon if it is the right time of the year. There is also a family of moose with a female that always seems to have a young one with her. There are of course frogs although quite small, don't underestimate them, these small frogs have some pipes! During the spring you can hear them calling for a mate from a good distance away. Their song is not only beautiful to others looking for a mate but I also enjoy hearing it. Even though I am not much of a hiker myself, I will never turn down a hike up there. Sometimes if I venture deep enough and I'm curious enough. I find places that I would never imagine existed. In that area I always find something new and intriguing like crazy mushrooms and all sorts of weird and beautiful plants and fungi that we have to look up in field guides when the adventure is over. I find animal tracks from elk and the things that devour the elk, like the sly mountain lion. There is so much I find every time I go up and have adventures around in Homestake.
Wetlands are very important or our landscape. They help prevent flooding by holding the water and acting much like a natural sponge. They also help decrease flooding in rivers and filter and purify the surface layer from pollution. Wetland also has something that is very cool and useful. Wetlands except water during storms when the water levels are high and then slowly release it when water levels are low. Wetlands are also a haven for many different species of animals and plants alike, which some are found nowhere else. They are also a nursery for all sorts of animals like amphibians such as, salamanders, newts, and frogs. Invertebrates like stoneflies, mayflies, and midges, and a large number of birds including heron, geese, hawks, and ducks.
This place is a natural miracle that took a glacier to make. It is an animal and plant wonderland where they can raise their young. It is not only a great resort for animals and plants but for people like us. Wetlands are nature’s way of helping reduce pollution in the water, protecting us from floods, and releasing water when the river is running low in the late summer and fall.
This is a beautiful place that should not be turned into a reservoir when we already have a reservoir that's just up the road. We need to protect this land because if we continue to make reservoirs and change Wilderness areas then we will lose what makes Colorado unique and beautiful.
It is important for our environment to keep our water clean, and our animals healthy and happy.
Madeline Dean is a 7th grader at Ross Montessori School in Carbondale, Colorado. She has served on the 2019 Youth Water Leaders Team and plans to also join the 2020 Team.
Thank to Rios to Rivers for cover photo by Weston Boyles