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A rare look inside Rocky Flats as new lawsuit challenges opening of public trails

Groups file suit over environmental analysis
Posted at 9:49 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-03 00:39:17-04

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- As a new lawsuit is pending, Denver7 is taking a rare look inside Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge and the trails set to open to the public.

Behind a locked gate off Highway 93, there's an existing network of trails and interior roads. Driving around on the site there's hardly any visible evidence of the site's past as a nuclear weapons plant. 

A tour of the site started with a drive up to Lindsay Ranch where a family raised cattle in the 1940s. Hikers will be able to walk past the old house and barn once the 1.2-mile Lindsay Ranch Loop is opened.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 16 miles of trails will be available for use as early as this summer. The plans are moving forward despite a new lawsuit filed earlier this week.

Activists filed a lawsuit to block the construction of new trails and a visitor center. They argue a required analysis of environmental risks was not completed.

“Despite evidence that plutonium and other hazardous materials still exist on the site, the federal government intends to open the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge with hiking, biking and equestrian trails as well as a visitors’ center," said Randall Weiner, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “Their 2004 analysis never considered the gravest risk – placing trails in areas with residual plutonium."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could not comment on any pending litigation but said, "We would not be proposing to open Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge to public access if we weren't confident that the area is safe for public use."


See inside the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge