Vail Daily letter: Against Hidden Gems
Vail, CO Colorado
I accept other viewpoints and encourage Coloradans to learn more about Hidden Gems. Spend time studying the maps, and check your local commissioner agendas for upcoming meetings. That being stated, I respectfully wish to share personal opposi-tion to Hidden Gems.
If degradation of public land, plant life or wildlife is perceived to be caused by exist-ing mechanized recreational uses, then encourage exploration of methods other than a wilderness designation to control and monitor trail use.
If logging, gas drilling and resource extraction or other development threatens public lands, then encourage exploration of methods of prohibiting development other than a wilderness designation, such as a national-recreation-area designation.
As full-time Eagle County residents, our family enjoys recreating at high elevations throughout Colorado. We participate in a variety of mechanized and nonmechanized forms of recreation. Often, we reach remote areas via Jeep, which carries needed water supplies, first aid, gear for changing weath-er conditions, a CB and ham radio. Motor-ized travel affords us: one, ability to reach higher elevations in multiple counties with-out extended time off work; two, ability to share public-land experience with guests and family members less physically mobile; and, three, ability to respond rapidly to emergencies.
With respect to Hidden Gems, consider this: • What concessions will be made to pri-vate landowners if private lands and access points are not accurately identified?
• How will new mid-elevation designa-tions impact private landowners located immediately adjacent to proposed new wilderness? For example, those families that have, historically, used snowmobiles out their back door and onto adjacent pub-lic land? While roads may be cherry-stemmed to continue providing them access, their historical mechanized recre-ational use and enjoyment is altered.
• While proponents maintain the “most popular” mechanized trails remain open, additional wilderness designations will result in increased congestion of use of the remaining approved mechanized-use areas – adversely affecting the quality of the mechanized-recreation experience in Col-orado. Our current approved public lands afford greater dispersion among various mechanized-user groups.
• Prohibiting mechanized access excludes some extended-family members and visitors from travel in a shared group experience. Banning mechanized use seems to restrict access by aging segments of the population, those who once may have traveled by foot but are no longer able to do so.
– Colleen Wirth, Eagle County resident