April Fool’s: Gems adds Glenwood Canyon to wilderness bid | VailDaily.com

April Fool’s: Gems adds Glenwood Canyon to wilderness bid

Roger Moore-Daltrey-Rabbit-Wilco
Daily glubglublisher
Vail Valley (not Eagle Valley), CO Colorado
Verne Gagne/Vail Doily file photoGlenwood Canyon will soon lose its interstate and gain a network of zip lines funded, in part, by Vail Resorts

GLENWOOD CANYON –Organizers of the Hidden Gems wilderness campaign, fresh from convincing the major snowmobiling organizations to endorse more wilderness, added Glenwood Canyon to the initiative.

“Glenwood Canyon’s splendor perhaps is exceeded only by the Grand Canyon downstream,” new spokeswoman Britney Spears said in a press conference held at the Minturn Country Club restaurant, where pre-teen girls seeking autographs once had her trapped in a restroom. “This just makes sense, and we believe that most motorists will agree.”

I-70 would be redirected over Cottonwood Pass to accommodate the new wilderness area.

Eagle County Administrator Keith Montag rolled his eyes when pressed for comment.

“How much will that cost?” he asked rhetorically. “A helluva lot.”

Big rigs would not be allowed over Cottonwood, which Spears suggested was a selling point for Eagle County residents, particularly those in Vail, who had seen truck traffic increase approximately 3 percent a year for the past three decades.

She said that with such a large share of federal stimulus funds having been unspent so far, this would provide an excellent funding source for constructing a four-lane freeway along the new route while helping the Obama administration make its case for government intervention helping end the recession.

“And certainly, the danger of driving through the canyon has to be a factor in this decision,” she added.

Under this plan, Union Pacific would retain a narrow right of way along the railroad tracks. Company executives came to the podium to endorse the Hidden Gems addition and handed out brochures extolling the natural beauty of the canyon for tourist trains modeled after the operation in Durango.

Spears said that the Hidden Gems organization would raise funds by setting up a “Disneyland of zip lines” throughout the canyon.

“There’s nothing that bans this activity in wilderness areas,” she explained.

Vail Resorts announced it had purchased a 20 percent stake in the venture.

“We believe in wilderness values, too,” the company said in a short press release.

Officials present declined to answer further questions, including whether sales of Epic Passes were boosted as a result of adding unlimited used of the zip lines and the new alpine slides at Beaver Creek and Vail in a bid to boost summer business as ski seasons shorten.

Sen. Mark Udall endorsed the idea after speaking with his brother, Brad, onetime executive director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

“This is a win-win for the state of Colorado and all Americans everywhere,” Udall said in a press statement from Washington, D.C. “The economic value of accumulating more wilderness cannot be overstated, and this is a step toward uniting the two Grand Canyons of the mighty Colorado in perpetuity. Edward Abbey would be proud indeed today.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, was more circumspect. “We frankly haven’t done the polling necessary to understand what to tell the Tea Party. And I still think that we need a public option …”

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, said she had never heard of Glenwood Canyon but was all for any move to add wilderness anywhere, anytime.

Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff asked what incumbent appointee Michael Bennet’s position might be and declared that whatever that was, he was 100 percent against it because the sitting senator is always wrong about everything.

“That’s why we need a firm Democrat such as myself in that Senate seat,” Romanoff said.

Montag was spotted rolling his eyes.

Franklin Romero – president of the PowderBunnies snowmobiling group credited with turning the tide in endorsing the Hidden Gems initiative after initial opposition before the appointment of Spears, including the addition of Glenwood Canyon – said he had an announcement.

“I’ve proposed to Ms. Spears,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure about her answer.”

Spears smiled self-consciously and said she had a plane to catch to L.A.

Montag rolled his eyes.

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