Letter: No to Berlaimont | VailDaily.com

Letter: No to Berlaimont

As a lifelong resident of Eagle County, I am writing to oppose the proposal of a paved road to the Berlaimont Estates. As a resident, I have enjoyed biking, hiking, running and hunting in the Berry Creek area. As spring comes upon us, Berry Creek will be the first place that is dry for activities such as biking, hiking and running. It will be a sad day to pave the recreation area of Edwards, and the upper Eagle Valley.

The current owners of the Berlaimont Estates inholding have a plan to develop their 680-acre parcel, which will require construction of 4.2 miles of new paved, two-lane road across sensitive wildlife habitat on our national forest. This is an unreasonable request for use of our public lands.

The Berlaimont developers claim they have a right to a paved road, based on a law that requires the US Forest Service to provide “adequate access” to inholders, for the “reasonable use and enjoyment” of their property. Nothing in the law says the Forest Service is required to approve paved access, and indeed, no existing precedent for supporting paved access currently exists.

The Berlaimont parcel has existing dirt road access that can be used by cars, trucks, and snow machines. Existing roads would allow for construction of a cabin, or several cabins under Eagle County Driveway Standards. This is “reasonable use” for an inholding — not the 19 luxury homes that are proposed by Berlaimont.

If the Forest Service approves this road, it will have to amend its own forest management plan in order to allow for year-round vehicle access in the area. The plan presently imposes seasonal closures to vehicles, in order to protect sensitive wildlife habitat. Why is the Forest Service bending the laws that govern it to support speculative land development at the expense of wildlife and the public? 

When I grow older, I want to see elk and deer and open spaces. I want to enjoy them with my family and friends — biking, hiking, running and hunting. This is not too much to ask because we the people of Eagle County and the United States own the national forests and should not have to sacrifice it for one person’s special interest.

Kevin Höchtl

Avon