Vail Daily letter: Put Gems in place
Gypsum, CO Colorado
I attended the June 3 meeting in Edwards regarding the Hid-den Gems wilderness proposal. I was unable to stay long enough to speak that evening.
This is what I planned to say at that meeting: I have lived in the Eagle area for 13 years. I love liv-ing here in part because I am an avid hiker and love the wilder-ness. Two years ago, I took up mountain biking, and I am now just as passionate about that.
And I support the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal as it is now 100 percent. I have been following the progress of this proposal for a long time.
It is not something that has been rushed through. It is a well-thought- out plan that has been modified many times.
As a hiker and a mountain bik-er, I have studied the maps of the areas that will be impacted. I see very few bike trails or roads that will be eliminated from current users. I don’t believe this will have any negative impact on anyone’s ability to enjoy the out-doors in whatever manner they desire. There will still be hun-dreds of miles of trails and roads left open to bikes and motorized recreation.
What I want to add now are the concerns I have after hearing many statements at the June 3 meeting. What I heard is that the Hidden Gems people have com-promised time and time again – reducing the original plan by more than 100,000 acres – to accommodate the mountain-bike and motorized-recreation coalition.
But the opposition seems unwilling to give anything in return. They seem to be saying, “Sure, you gave us this, but we want everything else we asked for, too.” Compromise has be made on both sides.
I believe the Hidden Gems proposal is a fair compromise for all. Some of these areas are frag-ile and starting to suffer severely from overuse. Even hiking trails sometimes have to be closed due to overuse.
Mountain bikes and motor-ized recreation vehicles cause many times more damage. As our population grows and pres-sure on our natural areas increases, it may very well become necessary to close off certain areas to certain types of recreation to preserve it.
Compromise is the key. I believe the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal is a fair compromise, and it’s time the opposition did some compro-mising, too. There will still be plenty of room for all.
I urge Rep. Jared Polis to draft a bill supporting the Hid-den Gems wilderness proposal as it stands now with no further delay. It is important.