Vail Daily letter: Agency should back Gems |

Vail Daily letter: Agency should back Gems

Vail Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

It is hardly surprising for an agency that believes its primary purpose is resource extraction to unilaterally declare that the Hid-den Gems wilderness campaign calls for too much wilderness ( Vail Daily, Oct. 5). The Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal calls for saving the last best places in the White River National Forest and adjoining Bureau of Land Management lands for our mutual future.

It is a culmination of years of work by biologists, conservation activists and vol-unteers, all of whom see that the Hidden Gems proposal is not too much, or too lit-tle, but just the amount of lands that can be saved now, before they are degraded to the point of being unrecognizable and un-salvageable.

From a conservation biology stand-point, it is not a question of whether we should do this but that we must do it. These areas will allow for the safe travel of migratory species such as deer and elk and ranging species such as bear, wolves and our old friend the Canada lynx. In short, the Hidden Gems proposal will provide the linkages that allow wilderness to remain wilderness.

In the rapidly advancing study of clima-tology where it relates to human- induced global climate change, the best available science points to the necessity for protect-ed ” islands” where non- human species can be assured of something resembling their natural habitats. The Hidden Gems proposal is the bare minimum to maintain functioning natural habitats.

Gifford Pincholt, the first director of the Forest Service, envisioned that ” for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time.” In a world confronted by climate change and the Sixth Great Extinc-tion, the greatest possible good is to pro-tect as much as possible from our own avarice and shortsightedness.

It is past time for the Forest Service to join the public, recognize this and embrace a mission that is in keeping with the needs of the 21st century rather than the 18th.

The citizen- generated Hidden Gems wilderness proposal would be a good place for the agency to start.

– Jonathan Staufer, Vail

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