The amount of environmental damage inherent in a massive construction project such as this is staggering.  While all of the surrounding mountainous regions are considered ecologically sensitive, Boulder County has specifically identified an area of particular environmental interest in its County Comprehensive Plan known as Winiger Ridge. The 250-page Magnolia Improvement Protection Plan (MEPP), officially incorporated into the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan in 2000, evaluated 22 square miles of lands surrounding Winiger Ridge, encompassing Gross Reservoir, and contained specific recommendations for the Denver Water Board. However, the 2000+ pages of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the U.S. Army Core of Engineers for Denver Water made no mention whatsoever of the Magnolia Improvement Protection Plan.
The full feature film DamNation gives a complete picture of the issues with modern dams. It is a powerful film odyssey across America exploring the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers.

The water that would be diverted in order to fill the expanded Gross Reservoir would come from the Fraser River, a major tributary of the Colorado River. Currently, the Fraser River, an established fly-fishing destination, is 60% depleted, placing the ecosystem on the threshold of collapse. The proposed Gross Dam Expansion Project would further this depletion of the river to 80%. With a mere 20% of the river’s natural flows remaining, water temperatures would never cool enough for the sought-after trout to breed. The Fraser River would cease to be much of a river at all and, consequently, the Colorado River would see decreased flows, negatively impacting ecosystems and the multitude of recreational industries dependent on a healthy river.

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