Saving the Homestake.

Saving the Homestake is an upcoming documentary film from Witness Tree Media that spotlights the vital role wetland ecosystems play in the climate emergency and why we need to protect them at all costs. It tells the story about a newly proposed dam on Colorado’s Homestake Creek and the 10,000 year old wetland ecosystem that will be destroyed if it’s built.

Witness Tree Media is currently in pre-production on this documentary and is actively seeking funding. To contribute to this documentary through cash or in kind donations, please reach out. Huge thank you to Lighthawk for providing the aerial support.

This is a photograph of the Homestake Valley taken from a plane flying at 18,000 feet. In the background of this photo is the Sawatch Mountain Range, home to 8 of the tallest peaks in the the Rocky Mountains that form the Continental Divide. An indigenous Ute word, Sawatch (SAH-watch or sah-WATCH) and Saguache (sah-WATCH) is derived from Ute words meaning Blue Earth and Middle Earth. In the foreground is Homestake Creek exiting the Homestake Valley and traveling west where it quickly joins forces with the Eagle River. The Eagle continues its journey west, taking its time, until it finally meets up with the Colorado River.

In the middle of this photograph is the 10,000 year old wetland habitat that began forming after the glaciers that carved this valley receded. To the right of the valley floor is the edge of the Holy Cross Wilderness. To the left is a proposed Wilderness expansion area included in The CORE Act.

The cascading forests of this valley are made up of mixed conifer and aspen. In summer, high alpine meadows fill the air with the fragrance of sagebrush and wildflowers. The Homestake Valley’s wetlands provide critical habitat for biologically diverse plant and animal communities including elk, moose, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion as well as the threatened Canada lynx, Greenback cutthroat trout and Ute Ladies’-tresses orchid and the endangered bonytail chub, Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub and razorback sucker.

The cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs own water rights in Colorado’s Upper Eagle River Basin. They want to exercise their rights and build a dam in the Homestake Valley to create a reservoir that would store 20,000 acre feet of water. Almost all of the stored water would be pumped east back over the Continental Divide through a series of pipes and tunnels for use by the rapidly expanding cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs whose water rights in the area date back to 1952. If the dam is built, the wetlands of the Homestake Valley will be destroyed.

Historical photograph of Homestake Lake that was destroyed by the construction of a high elevation reservoir to supply water to cities on Colorado’s Front Range in the 1960s. Photograph courtesy of the Denver Public Library.

This is not the first time this fragile ecosystem has been threatened. In the 1960s, prior to any land protections, a reservoir was constructed further up the Homestake Valley to supply the growing cities on Colorado’s Front Range. Construction of this reservoir destroyed Homestake Lake.

Contact Witness Tree Media for usage licensing fees for any of the photographs or videos.

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