2008 Ditch Work
2008 Ditch Work In February 2008 work began on the Hogan/Pancost land to install almost 2000 feet of underground drainage pipe along the ditches on the south and west side of the property. The stated intent, described in a recent letter, is to mitigate and contain the groundwater seepage in the area. Unfortunately the extensive wetland meadows throught the area are dependent on this groundwater. This is the action that the community voiced concerns about last summer and was described in a Daily Camera article.

As seen in the movie and photos below not only are they draining the land they also are destroying the lush meadows on the property from the construction traffic. A temporary road has been graded through the most sensitive areas of the property and many vehicles, including 18-wheeler dump trucks, have traveled through the property.

The developer tells us:

The Project Team has commissioned extensive studies for the project, ranging from geotechnical and ecological to housing, traffic and planning. The independent firms which conducted the studies are among the most well-respected and accomplished companies in the Boulder area. Some of the studies had been conducted during the preceding planning years; others are newly commissioned. All are being thoroughly reviewed and updated in order to provide the most technically complete information possible.

Specifically, you can look forward to studies in the following areas: Civil Engineering, Traffic, Floodplain, Hydrology, Wetlands, Mosquito, Geotechnical, Ecological.

From the City's recent letter to residents:
Prior to the submittal and review of a new concept plan, the applicants will provide staff with detailed environmental analyses for the property to ensure the proposed site plan responds to any environmental factors which may exist on-site.
...
Will the city retain third party consultants to review environmental studies submitted by the applicant?
Wetlands: Yes, the city will retain a third party consultant to conduct a review of any proposed wetland mapping.

Preble's Jumping Mouse/Ute Lady Tresses Orchids: The determination of whether or not the property is potential habitat for a species regulated under the federal Endangered Species Act and is made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
... At this point, the city can make a decision on whether or not it agrees with the final determination of the USFWS and, through its annexation or site review decisions, choose to apply a stricter policy than the federal agency toward protection of any habitat on the site.

This effort runs counter to the specific advice of the City staff:

Wetlands and Wildlife
Staff understands that wetland mitigation options may be proposed in future development applications. The applicant is advised that mitigation would only be permitted if the project application has clearly demonstrated avoidance of adverse impact.

It is outrageous that the developer embarks on this destructive course of action before their own studies are completed and reviewed by the City. Shouldn't there be a solid understanding of the floodplain, wetlands, hydrology and ecological characteristics of the property before such an extensive and high-impact construction project begins? How can there be an effective review of the land after it has been changed so dramatically? Shouldn't an objective review of these studies be done as part of the City's annexation and development review? As City staff state this site may harbor a federally listed threatened species (Preble's Mouse). Shouldn't more care be taken to ensure that actions on this site do not disturb this habitat?

Luckily, the county has issued a stop work order. From a regulatory perspective, this work has not been permitted by the County and has occurred in the ditch right-of-way without permission from the ditch company. Wetland areas on the north side of the property that contain standing water have been heavily impacted by the excavation and were not properly protected by barriers. A number of prairie dog burrows have also been destroyed. This area of the property is also within the newly established South Boulder Creek 100 year flood plain. Furthermore, the ditch corridor along the west side has been designated as a High Hazard Flood zone, the City of Boulder's most stringent flood plain designation.

In March 2008 Mayor Shaun McGrath wrote a letter to Boulder County urging them to monitor any further actions on the site and to require restitution or restoration of the property to its state prior to the unlawful grading. Unfortunately this has not been done.

From wetlands to a construction zone


Looking West


South Side


South Side


Willow Grove - Possible Prebles Habitat


Southwest Corner


Northwest Corner


A number of prairie dog burrows were probably destroyed

 

 

 

The views expressed on this web site are solely those of the author. If you have any concerns or comments or believe anything on this web site is inaccurate or in error please contact the author at jeff.mcwhirter -at- gmail.com