Vail Daily letter: Bigger than us |

Vail Daily letter: Bigger than us

Hannah Irwin
Vail, CO, Colorado

I just attended the public forum on Hidden Gems in Edwards. I want to thank congressman Polis and his staff for hosting this meeting, and for continuing the public process on this important opportunity. Since there were so many passionate people, there wasn’t time for everyone (like myself) to speak.

Throughout the evening I heard a lot of thoughtful, selfless comments made by supporters of the Hidden Gems. Comments ranged from the inherent value of wilderness to concerns about water quality, future forest health, and habitat fragmentation. People spoke of the need to protect habitat, biodiversity, and Colorado’s landscape, and made the self-evident statement that we need these places to remain wild for future generations.

I personally support the Hidden Gems proposal in its entirety for a huge variety of reasons, but the simple fact of the matter is that globally, and within Colorado, we are losing pristine, intact wild places at an alarming rate.

This means we’re losing plant and animal species and the ecosystem services that keep us healthy (for free!).

It means human civilization is quickly overturning millions of years of dynamic work by Mother Nature, and we’re crumbling away our national heritage.

The wilderness areas we currently have in Colorado do not protect entire ecosystems, which is just one reason why we must expand our wilderness areas to lower elevations.

The supporters who spoke revealed to us that wilderness is bigger than anyone in that room, and bigger than any petty concerns about perpetual access to public lands for high-impact recreation.

What opponents didn’t seem to notice is that the Hidden Gems proposal simply isn’t about us.

Edward Abbey said it well: “A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”

Let’s support the Hidden Gems, and urge congressman Polis to introduce this proposal in its entirety as legislation.

Hannah Irwin


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