Vail Daily letter: Outdoor lessons |

Vail Daily letter: Outdoor lessons

Vail alums
Vail, CO, Colorado

We are local high school graduates writing in support of the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal.

We grew up here fishing in mountain streams, stirring grouse in groves of aspen, ski touring through silent stands of conifer, climbing high peaks and glissading back down. We stalked deer and elk, tempted raging runoffs, dove into frigid alpine lakes and pondered the beauty of it all in fields of wildflowers.

The wilds were our classroom. Our field trips, mostly right out the backdoor, exposed us to natural sciences that most kids only experience on DVD.

We understand the uniqueness of this place and these experiences. They made us who we are. They are why we choose to remain nearby, why we’ve lured loved ones from distant places to call this home and why we’ve chosen to raise families here. We have an obligation to protect these places and these opportunities for future generations.

Local wildlands are increasingly threatened by development and other activities. Climate change presents a less understood and maybe more grave threat to our forests, wildlife and water.

These areas are not only places we go to ski, hike, fish, hunt, camp and to find solitude, they are critical to the prosperity of our communities and the health of our natural resources.

The Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal offers an opportunity to protect a few of the wildest remaining lands in the White River National Forest. The Hidden Gems are generally lower in elevation than existing wilderness. They provide migration corridors and habitat for a wider array of wildlife, and they encompass a huge variety of forest types.

But like existing wilderness, these areas are magnificent and they deserve the strongest protections that we can afford. Truth be told, we can’t afford anything less than wilderness designation for these lands.

JFK said, “The supreme reality of our time is … the vulnerability of our planet.”

Thoreau reminded, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

The Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal is backed up by years of research, outreach and negotiations.

Please join us in supporting protection of a few of the last pieces of wilderness quality land left here in and around the White River National Forest. Future valley grads will thank you.

Clark Anderson, VMS ’95; Aaron Baker, VMS ’95; Dana Carlson, VMS ’96; Kelly Gardner Christiansen, Battle Mountain ’95; Joe Gold, VMS ’94; Murph Gottlieb, VMS ’95; Jen Gottlieb, VMS ’95; Peter Hart, VMS ’95; Sacha Hart, VMS ’93; Karl Hochtl, Battle Mountain ’95; Kevin Hochtl, Battle Mountain ’98; Jamie Walker Hunn, VMS ’95; Diana Maitland Baker, VMS ’95; Kayo Ogilby, VMS ’92; Chris Slevin, VMS ’90; Elizabeth Staufer, VMS ’96; Jonathan Staufer, VMS ; Drew Vesey, Battle Mountain ’10

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