Lindsay Ranch
Lindsay Ranch at RFNWR
Mark Udall and Wayne Allard
Representative Mark Udall and Senator Wayne Allard

Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge

Determining the future use of Rocky Flats was a priority since a community forum in the mid-1990s recommended that the Rocky Flats buffer zone be protected as open space. Questions about what to do with the former core production area (called the Industrial Area) ranged from open space to reindustrialization. These questions were settled in December 2001 when, as part of the annual Defense Authorization bill, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the “Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge Act of 2001.” The Refuge Act designates all of Rocky Flats as a National Wildlife Refuge following the Environmental Protection Agency’s certification that the cleanup and closure complies with all appropriate laws and regulations. In June 2007, the cleanup was certified and the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge has become a reality.

The Refuge Act was championed by Senator Wayne Allard and Representative Mark Udall, and was broadly supported by community members surrounding this former nuclear weapons plant. The Rocky Flats Coalition of Local Governments, the predecessor organization to the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council, was intimately involved in all aspects of the bill’s development and assisted greatly in securing additional congressional support. The Coalition’s official correspondences, resolutions, and press statements shed light on the various issues that were discussed during the development of the bill.

As the Coalition stated in an Arvada Sentinel op-ed in June 2001:
"The [refuge] bill would accomplish a number of the Coalition’s key cleanup and future use goals. Most importantly, it would protect the land for future generations by mandating the site be managed as a national wildlife refuge, while ensuring that the cleanup protects human health and the environment. Additionally, this designation would prohibit future development of Rocky Flats and annexation of the property by any local government. The legislation would also require on-going federal ownership of the site, an integral component of a comprehensive long-term site stewardship program, and also ensure that cleanup is completed prior to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assuming management of Rocky Flats."

For full story click here.

In accordance with the Refuge Act, administrative jurisdiction for the majority of Rocky Flats was transferred to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The Department of Energy retains jurisdiction of the vast majority of the former core Industrial Area and the settling ponds, as these lands that require on-going management of residual contamination. DOE also retains jurisdiction over active mining claims.

For more information on the United State Fish and Wildlife Services’ plans for the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, please go to:

For more information on the Department of Energy’s ongoing management of Rocky Flats, click here.