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Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge opens trails to the public

Posted at 3:11 PM, Sep 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-15 19:23:58-04

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- Saturday marked the first official day Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge opened to visitors. This comes after confusion on Friday over whether the refuge was going to open as the Department of Interior delayed the opening to address concerns.

The opening brought out people with many different opinions.

"Like everybody says this is the last undisturbed prairie for the Denver metro area,” said Bill Tyree. Tyree spent 43 years working at Rocky Flats. "My last bit of time was spent with the labs doing plutonium assay."

Tyree came out to Rocky Flats on Saturday to see what the property has become and shared what he wants to see for its future.

"They should do the surveys, they should do the soil testing, they should do all of the things that confirm that it really is safe,” said Tyree.

The former weapons production facility produced plutonium triggers for U.S. nuclear weapons. Protestors such as Judith Mohling are against people being let on the land at all.

“They are really putting themselves in danger,” said Mohling. “We are trying to keep kids off Rocky Flats and keep people off Rocky Flats. There is so much plutonium contamination in the land.”

Mohling joined with a group of protestors in the Rocky Flats north entrance parking lot that just opened to recreationists on Saturday. They held signs warning hikers, runners and bikers who all came to check out the newly opened trails.

"We were excited about some more trails in the Boulder area,” said mountain biker Richard Marchbanks. “Colorado has a lot of uranium in the soil as it is and its radioactive. That’s why we have radon problems in a lot of the houses. I don't think this is going to be any worse of a problem than anywhere else."

The Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Health Department have both said the park is safe for use after testing, but some still believe that will never be the case and want to see more testing done.

“It’s so easy to convince people them that if it’s so beautiful it must be safe, but it isn't,” said Mohling.