Facing a lawsuit from the Sierra Club, the City of Colorado Springs has agreed to clean up streams and wetlands on Pikes Peak - a project that could cost $14 million to $21 million, according to a preliminary study.
The Sierra Club
sued in 1998, claiming that the city-operated toll road to the top
of the 14,110-foot peak was degrading watersheds and wetlands by
spilling gravel and sediment into streams. In April, the city
agreed to clean up the road, which will probably mean paving it. It
will also spend $300,000 on projects on other parts of the mountain
and pay the Sierra Club $100,000 to cover a portion of its legal
expenses. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch still needs to approve
The lawsuit was frivolous,
according to John Fredell, lead attorney for the city. "We were
committed to all of the conditions of this settlement before the
Sierra Club took us to court."
"Had the city
made a commitment last summer to do this work in 10 years, this
lawsuit never would have happened," argues Earthjustice Legal
Defense Fund Attorney Michael Freeman. "Now there is a binding
agreement to complete the work on a fixed schedule and to put the
resources up to do it right."
The city says it
can do the job for under $14 million, but Freeman warns, "What we
won't accept are shortcuts that don't provide the full required
protection for Pikes Peak." The Sierra Club is still suing the
Forest Service, which manages the mountain, asking for an
additional $300,000 in clean-up money.