Letter: Proposed Jones Gulch huts a bad idea | VailDaily.com

Letter: Proposed Jones Gulch huts a bad idea

Marjorie Westerman
Vail, CO Colorado

Although I applaud the 10th Mountain Hut establishment for their integrity and thoughtful remembrance and respect of our WWII 10th Mountain Division, I am adamantly opposed to the construction of two new huts proposed in Jones Gulch on National Forest land. The location is north of Vance’s Cabin on Tennessee Pass in Eagle County.

I visited the site this past autumn with Ben Dodge, the Director of the 10th Mountain Hut Association and numerous other interested folks. I could easily feel the tranquility, the pleasure of the critters large and small enjoying this serene refuge. The gentle creek, a hollow with rolling hill views, a place where animals that we rarely see can rest undisturbed.

The Jones Gulch area is a key linkage for lynx, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This habitat would be greatly compromised with people consistently coming and going from the proposed huts.

Although the proposed huts are for winter use only, summertime maintenance is necessary. Once wild lands are claimed by humans, the existing animals cannot be at peace. With the Ginn project likely to displace wildlife, it is just that much more important to protect our collectively owned public land from development.

The 10th Mountain Hut Association says they want to build these huts for better linkage for hut to hut skiing. My understanding is that less than 2 percent of hut users do hut-to-hut excursions, and almost all visit just one hut per outing. Vance’s Cabin ” as well as the new Continental Divide Cabin owned by Lee Rimel ” offer the Tennessee Pass linkage already.

There is no need for the huts to be built in the fragile Jones Gulch area. When there is a need for additional huts, let them build on private land, not our National Forest.

The Forest Service has greatly limited commercial permits is the Tennessee Pass area in recent years to protect wildlife habitat. Our wildlife needs protection. They need our voice.

Your comments will make a difference and must be received by March 26. Please send to U.S. Forest Service, Attn. Dave Van Norman, PO Box 190, Minturn, CO 81645. Or send comments via email to comments-rocky-mountain-white-river-eastzone@fs.fed.us

There is an Eagle County Planning and Zoning meeting March 19 at 3 p.m. The Commissioners meeting is April 1 at 1:30 pm.

Please don’t let development sprawl into our forests. Please take action.

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