Vail Daily letter: Didn’t like that wording
Mancos, CO Colorado
I strenuously object to the wording of your online poll concerning the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal. The question was, “How do you feel about ‘Hidden Gems,’ the proposal to protect 400,000 acres of wilderness in and around Eagle County and banning motorized vehicles from those lands?”
First of all, that is two questions, not one, which renders the poll meaningless from the get-go.
The second choice, “Very much against banning snowmobilers and others from parts of the backcountry” did not answer the question but was, I believe, designed to inflame a particular sentiment.
In fact, the Hidden Gems proposal does nothing of the kind. Wilderness designation does not ban people from any place, it restricts the mode of travel to muscle-powered, non-mechanized means. What it does do is protect critical wildlife habitat (remember that all wildlife is under great stress during winter) and preserve some space for those who prefer their winter recreation in quiet solitude.
There are hundreds of thousands of acres available for snowmobile travel on the White River National Forest, but fewer and fewer places below 10,000 feet where one may go to recreate in the absence of motorized impacts. Snowmobilers require far more miles of trail to practice their sport than do skiers and snowshoers. How about leaving a little mid-elevation for those who don’t care to drive a machine over the snow, not to mention a little peace and quiet for wildlife.