Eric Meyer: We are impacting wildlife
The U.S. Forest Service will address the impacts created by trails, and the public should hold them accountable but there are more significant wildlife impacts happening.
Both the city and county through the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan agree to use the Routt County Master Plan process in the area the WSSAP covers. That plan states “1. Follow guidelines set forth in the Wildlife Resources section of the Routt County Master Plan.”
The West Steamboat Neighborhoods falls within the WSSAP boundary and thus will need to follow the policies that address wildlife in the RCMP including 9.3.F: “Include a Wildlife Mitigation Plan that is reviewed and approved by the Colo. District Wildlife Manager, as part of major subdivisions or major subdivision exemptions (more than 4 lots).”
My concern of waiting to address wildlife later in the city planning/annexation process is based on how the Sunlight neighborhood got approved through the city planning/annexation process.
The city of Steamboat Springs typically addresses wildlife in the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan. The Sunlight developer’s response to address the SSACP was: “Wildlife habitat: No adverse impacts are expected as a result of discussion with a local wildlife biologist.”
The city planning staff was given a Colorado Parks and Wildlife letter dated March 24, 2013, (also received in 2008 and 2010) that stated the CPW wildlife concerns for the Sunlight neighborhood. While this could just be a city staff oversight, we have a chance to correct it. What is certain is:
• The Planning Commission packet, dated Aug. 8, 2013, included the developer’s statement but did not include the CPW letter. The minutes did not discuss the CPW concerns.
• The City Council packet, dated Sept. 3, 2013, included the developer’s statement but did not include the CPW letter. The minutes did not discuss the CPW concerns.
Please ask City Council — email@example.com — to use the process in the Community Development Code to make the Sunlight developers address the documented wildlife impacts before approval of the final plat of Phase III, which lies entirely in elk severe winter range. The WHILD fund was created as one way to help address these types of issues.
For West Steamboat Neighborhoods, let’s be sure not to forget to address the wildlife concerns related to the species of greatest concern and the critical habitat for all wildlife species as defined by the appropriate governing plans.
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