Vail Daily letter: Clarifying position on wilderness designation
Vail, CO, Colorado
I would like to quickly clarify quotes attributed to me in an article last week about wilderness. I was quoted as saying I think wilderness is a ridiculous land management tool.
That is not correct. I believe that lands placed under this federal level of protection throughout the United States are absolutely perfect for this designation. This kind of land management has proven time and time again to have been in the public’s best interest.
However, I do not think that the area around the Piney River needs this level of protection.
It has been studied by the U.S. Forest Service for many years, and they did not recommend wilderness designation as the preferred management tool.
All of the desired objectives of protecting habitat can be accomplished through current management. Even if one were to find massive oil and gas reserves in this area, do not you think that we would know by now, and there are a huge number of laws governing this type of use that should be sufficient.
Also, there have been ongoing logging operations through this area of the forest for many years now. We need trees for human use both left standing and harvested.
If the laws on the books now cannot deal with these kinds of issues, I would be very surprised.
So now we have this new wilderness proposal from Sen. Udall, and he promises to listen to all concerned.
For those who attended the last round of Hidden Gems meetings, there is a lot of frustration.
Sure, compromises were made by proponents, yet the very idea of this restrictive federal land management tool that impacts local population is not viable to many people.
One must ask why the politicians propose these projects? What do they gain?
Is the science behind the need for this level of protection overwhelming? Are there threats to these forests that require congressional action?
The population base of Colorado is the Front Range, and to those voters a Colorado politician must appeal.
Just saying, “I am for wilderness,” one feels good. I think most of us are for wild places, and that is in most human hearts and in the sense that Thoreau, Muir or Leopold would have embraced.
Do not confuse federal wilderness designation as a land management tool with the other wilderness of the heart.
When that occurs as it is here, the very people who need and want to experience their public lands are unnecessarily restricted. The proper tools for the job are in place!