Vail Daily letter: No to Hidden Gems |

Vail Daily letter: No to Hidden Gems

Mike Lederhause
Vail, CO, Colorado

The recent meeting at the Eagle County Administration Building about the misguided effort by the Hidden Gems group to lock up our national forest was a farce, promoted by hypocrites.

The capacity of the meeting room was greatly exceeded and although two of the county commissioners and the county manager were present, there was nothing done to make sure the capacity did not exceed that allowed by the fire codes that these people promote. The entrance and exit was further restricted by placing tables in the entryway, which created a bottleneck. Apparently these hypocrites think the code does not pertain to them.

If this meeting was held for the benefit of the commissioners to gain input from the public about this proposal, why was Sara Fisher not present to witness the opposition? Remember this during the next election.

The presentation by the Hidden Gems hypocrites showed pictures of a gas line under construction, a ATV playing in a mud puddle and a road track. They apparently think all these things are bad for the forest.

They did not bother to explain that gas is used to heat their oversized homes and all the other buildings in the valley.

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They did not include any pictures of the permanent scars and disruption to the environment by the various ski areas that have done more damage to our forest than all the other marks of humans combined.

They did not consider the huge amount of gasoline that was consumed for all the people to attend this meeting and other meetings related to this proposal. Where do they think gasoline, natural gas and all the other things derived from petroleum come from if they are against drilling?

There have been many miles of road built in the national forest to get to their homes and bring visitors to the valleys, but they are offended by a seldom-used road in the forest.

I agree some folks misuse their ATVs, motor vehicles and bicycles, but these folks misuse them in town also, not just in the forest.

We need to deal with these folks, not punish the whole world just because of a few slobs. The folks who walk, ski or snowshoe with their dog running loose disturb and stress wintering or calving wildlife, but they forgot to mention that.

They also forgot to mention the decline in big game caused in part by the increased prevalence of predators in the forest.

They also forgot to mention the National Guard helicopters that constantly harass the wildlife on Pisque Mountain and other areas. Nesting eagles were harassed enough that they have left the area where they had been present for a number of years.

I have also witnessed these helicopters circling an elk herd at very low altitude over the forest just before hunting season started in October of 2008.

That was not bad enough, so they came back during the hunting season at tree top level looking for cattle. This is how they use your tax dollars.

They should fly in the Avon and Vail area so as not to disturb folks and wildlife in the forest.

One hypocrite wants to lock up the forest because someone dumped a camper shell along the Gypsum Creek Road but did not attend the meeting because he said “he operates a gas station in Eagle and sells a lot of gasoline to snowmobilers.”

This is typical of the hypocrites promoting this proposal.

When the young man was presenting information about the benefit of snowmobilers to the economy, the hypocrites were having their own huddle and not paying a bit of attention. Apparently their mind is closed and they do not want to hear anything other than their misguided proposal.

Before the present wilderness was locked up a person could enjoy the solitude of the back country and often not see another person. After the forest was locked up, people flocked to the area just because it was wilderness.

If you are a member of one of the hypocrite groups, (Sierra Club etc.) just going to the forest is not good enough. You have to go to a wilderness so you can tell all your other hypocrites about your experience so they can come too.

The North Derby area used to be remote and wild, but then came the Flat Tops Wilderness and Winterhawk Outfitters, blessed by the Forest Service.

They have set up semi permanent camps in many locations, in and out of the wilderness area. Now the wilderness is overrun by their paid clients in our forest. This has not been good for the area.

Locking up the forest excludes those folks that have spent a lifetime camping and enjoying the forest but whose mobility is becoming limited by age or disability and are suddenly excluded.

The best thing to preserve our forest would be for each of these hypocrites to take their house and all their pollution, ski areas, etc., and move it all back to wherever they came from. Our forest will get along just fine without them and it will leave room for the wildlife to winter in the valleys.

I commend the Mesa County commissioners for moving to oppose the Hidden Gems proposal. I would encourage the Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin County commissioners to do the same.

Folks, don’t just sit back and think this will never pass. Remember, these are the folks who elected Obama and you are witnessing what a mistake that was.

Mike Lederhause

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