Letter: What town votes to kill off local wildlife?
On August 26, the town of Vail’s Planning and Environmental Commission voted 4-3 to allow Triumph Development to move forward with its proposed housing development, Booth Heights. The PEC chose to ignore the the recommendations of numerous wildlife experts, three of whom were hired by the town, instead voting to move forward with the development, which is the worst scenario for the survival of our local bighorn sheep herd.
Thanks to the Vail Daily for its reporting; however, many important details should be made known. Over the summer, the PEC held packed meetings regarding Booth Heights in which Triumph officials talked (some say filibustered) until public comments were allowed at the end of the four- to five-hour sessions. Members of the public were limited to three minutes and were not allowed to ask questions directly to the expert consultants, the developer or the PEC. For example, questions regarding the current conditions of the 10-12 bighorn sheep yearlings seen this spring and the reported 10 new lambs were never discussed. The narrative pushed by the developer throughout the meetings is that the herd is “beleaguered,” “dwindling,” etc.
Do those reproductive numbers support that narrative or is the herd showing its own sustainability? The “woeful” narrative by Triumph serves some by helping to rationalize a vote by the town to push the herd to its demise. The fourth and deciding vote by the PEC requires an asterisk. The footnote to that asterisk should state that over 150 people signed a letter asking for a recusal by a member of the PEC due to a blatant, dictionary definition of conflict of interest.
Because environmental sustainability is said to be an important component in the PEC’s decision process, a footnote should also say that the location of this development is at least 7 miles from West Vail’s gas stations, grocery stores, post office and affordable restaurants, and has a walkability score so low that every errand necessitates the use of a car.
Any notion that this location aids in decreasing greenhouse gases is not believable. The town council had an opportunity to review the PEC’s decision and nearly 400 people signed a letter asking to do just that. The town council voted 4-3 to silence further discussion and let the decision by a volunteer, non-elected board stand. The alliance of Vail Resorts and the Vail Town Council in this matter has helped silence the community and Vail Resorts should be recognized for its complicity in supporting Booth Heights. When the Epic Promise mission statement reads “we take special responsibility in helping conserve the natural environments and communities surrounding our resorts,” the contrast between Vail Resorts’ actions versus its words couldn’t be starker. Vail Resorts’ actions are particularly hypocritical since it is sitting on property which is in town, walkable and convenient for employees. Instead, the town of Vail and Vail Resorts are pushing to destroy a natural environment and view corridor and in the process kill off our state animal.
Make your voice heard by taking every opportunity presented to set the record straight on Vail Resorts’ actions versus its words. Tell family, friends, other communities and visitors. What town votes to kill off local wildlife? Answer — the town of Vail at the behest of Vail Resorts. Pass it on.