Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge, a former nuclear weapons plant, prepares to open hiking trails this summer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to open the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge in Colorado to the public this summer despite attempts to block developing the refuge, which circles a shuttered nuclear weapons production facility.

Private tours have already started, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge manager David Lucas said. No hard date exists yet for the full opening but it is expected to be this summer.

“The neat thing about Rocky Flats is it has been undisturbed for the past 70 years as opposed to lands on the other side that have been extensively grazed,” Lucas said.

In anticipation of the opening, the Fish and Wildlife Service is continuing to coordinate with Jefferson County to collect additional air, water and soil samples to ensure safety.

Lucas said local governments are also working to connect the refuge trails to the surrounding area, including Boulder County Open Space.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy contend that no lingering danger exists to humans from exposure to any residual contaminants, but critics have a long-running skepticism of those findings.

Rocky Flats is considered a globally rare habitat and is the largest undisturbed track of high prairie grass on the planet, Lucas said.

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