Vail Daily letter: Should be wilderness
Vail, CO Colorado
Dear elected officials, citizens, visitors and locals: I regret that I cannot speak before your scheduled hearings, but I would like to encourage you to pursue congressional support for the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal.
I served the people of Colorado as an area supervisor for the Division of Wildlife Area 8 from 1983 to 1990. This area comprises all of Eagle County.
I am familiar with all of the proposed areas in Eagle County. They have survived as functioning ecosystems because, due to physical barriers and private land ownership, they have had very limited motorized access.
They all contain valuable resources for wildlife. They do not have spectacular scenery; most don’t contain new lakes teeming with trout.
They are mostly in lower elevations with brush and timber. There is vehicle access to the boundaries of these areas. There is plenty of motorized access to lands bordering on these parcels.
It is well-documented that fragmentation of habitat by roads leads to that land’s degradation in wildlife value.
Congress established the process for designating wilderness areas so that there were areas where man’s presence was not part of the experience. They wanted to make it hard for man to intrude on these areas and damage them.
If you have to carry everything on your back and you can’t fire up a chainsaw or backhoe, you can’t do as much damage. Technology and engineering have allowed motorized access to terrain that was physically difficult historically.
If not protected, these areas will be degraded by the creation of new roads and trails as the public continues to look for new experiences.
These areas are comprised of lower montane vegetation that provides important habitat for most of Colorado’s mammals and breeding birds.
The proposal placed before you is the result of years of negotiation and compromise by interest groups and user groups.
I want to speak out for the wildlife, protect these areas for their important wildlife values; keep man out as much as the law allows. These areas should be left alone and protected through designation by Congress as wilderness.
John Seidel, Carbondale