The Eagle Valley is unique. It is a year-round destination, a full-time residence, and a part-time home. The protections needed for its various uses are many, diverse and sometimes conflicting. But the most important protection is the land. Without the skiing, hunting, hiking, river sports and sheer beauty, people won’t come and the economy that keeps us going will disappear.
The Berlaimont development above Edwards is one time when solutions seem to conflict. Isn’t our lifeblood the vacationers and wealthy second-home owners that employ so many of us? Shouldn’t another high-end development bring jobs and security? In this case, the answer is no.
As residents, our first duty is to the land. Without that there is no economy. A recent study by a Denver nonprofit Rocky Mountain Wild explains how herds have dropped by 50% since 1999. The Berlaimont owner wants to begin the development with “a new paved road, 26-feet in width across 4.2 miles of National Forest in the heart of some of Eagle County’s best remaining wildlife habitat…What is now a sanctuary for wintering wildlife will be bisected by a new road and more than 200 vehicle trips per day to service the proposed subdivision.”
Can anyone tell me why we would build a road through elk breeding ground in national forest where animals are already under stress and declining? And this for a development fraught with problems. There is no water in the Berlaimont inholding. The plan is to truck it in, so Edwards, be ready for an army of water haulers filling at some designated filling station to roar through what is now national forest. With this in mind, will this development even go? Do we, Eagle county citizens, want to build and maintain a road to keep it supplied? Is Edwards willing to supply the watering station for 19 high-end homes?
Did any of our Fourth of July visitors, locals, or second-home owners hike along Berry Creek Road this year? Do those who live and recreate there want to compete with 200 vehicle trips per day? There are many options out there for developers to find land that won’t plow though national forest and an endangered elk herd. Each of you can do your part to develop it with care. You can save our most precious resource, our land and animals.
Contact the Eagle County Commissioners and encourage them to call the Forest Service to share their constituents’ opposition to the Berlaimont project at 970-328-8605 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact the Forest Service and ask them to prioritize wildlife over speculative development. Contact the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and Colorado Parks and Wildlife and ask them to weigh in with comments to the Forest Service by contacting Dan Gibbs, DNR’s executive director (email@example.com, 303-866-2211) and JT Romatsky, northwest regional wildlife manager for CPW (firstname.lastname@example.org, (970) 255-6100).
You are the steward of this land.