I am writing to be a voice for wildlife and land conservation for my generation and speak for the over 7,000 school-aged students here in Eagle County. I want to share my perspective as a kid who cares about protecting wildlife and loves what makes my home so special. I was born and raised in Eagle County and I’m fortunate to be the fourth generation in my family to live in the Vail Valley.
My love for the outdoors began at an early age. My passion grew deeper in my early years at Vail Mountain School, where I could watch the Vail bighorns in the winter and see the spring lambs from campus. As a middle schooler now, I know it’s a privilege to have these beautiful animals so accessible.
It is said our experiences inform our lives. I would say the outdoors informs mine. I escape to the outdoors to find peace in nature, where I feel free, happy and grateful to live in Colorado. In my opinion, nothing compares to the pristine beauty and wildlife in our own Gore Range mountains and the animals like the Vail bighorns that call these mountains home. In order to conserve their habitat, we must find a balance between our needs of playing, working and living and the needs of wildlife and the land. As a kid, I love having space to wander and play in the woods, but I love the animals having a home more.
As I have learned more about the threat to this herd, it has become very personal to me. I know my own family’s history and the contributions they’ve made to Vail’s legacy. I know that my great-grandfather helped invest in Vail Mountain, and he helped establish Vail Associates, as one of the very first executives of the company that would later become Vail Resorts. I also know that he never thought the day would come when the vision he and his friends had for our community would get trampled by politics and greed.
My heart breaks at the thought that one day — far far away from now — my children and grandchildren might not have that same privilege. Our Vail bighorns are one of our valley’s most precious resources. They are here in our backyard, available for schools like mine to take field trips to study them and revel in their power and beauty. Too many people don’t realize how much of a treasure these animals are, so we must act now to show what a community united around conservation can accomplish.
To me, conservation means we give more to the land than what we take from it. To all of you, I hope it means being good stewards and building our homes in ways that do not hurt the homes of wildlife. And holding our elected officials accountable to do the same. Our land is limited, so some places simply need to be kept wild.
When we take from the land for recreation, we must give back to the land to preserve its resources. This is why I believe in the mission before us today. I believe in leaving the land better than you found it. I believe the bighorn sheep in East Vail deserve to keep their home. I believe we must be a voice for wildlife that can’t speak for themselves. I believe the next generation can do better than the ones before us. I believe our community can be a part of protecting, sustaining, and improving the only habitat available for this special, beautiful species.
I only have so much allowance to give, but I will give it all to save the Vail gighorns. I hope you will join me by giving today toon. Go to vailbighorn.com to do this. Together, we can work toward a better future for our wildlife and our community. We have the privilege of living here, and with that privilege comes the responsibility of being stewards of the land for future generations.
Dr. Suess’s “The Lorax” said “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Will you please join me today in caring a whole awful lot?
Vail Christian Academy sixth grade