Vail Daily Letter: Supports Hidden Gems |

Vail Daily Letter: Supports Hidden Gems

Vail Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

As a backcountry enthusiast, I want to make a few more com-ments in support of the Hidden Gems program.

Comments have been pub-lished as to the restrictions the Hidden Gems program would cre-ate for a small number of back-country visitors. Let’s take a look at what wilder-ness areas do offer. Many visitors choose to visit the pristine neigh-borhood of a wilderness area for a variety of activities.

Some of the most popular activities center on hunting, fish-ing, skiing, hiking, climbing, backpacking, photography, horseback access and a great place to meditate in the quiet. Oh! Did I mention the best chance to see and preserve vast selections of wildlife?

You can make your choice from a lifetime menu of wilderness offerings. Even after adding addi-tional wilderness acreage, we still also have vast areas of national for-est and BLM land that can be accessed by mechanical means.

Working in the summer as a vol-unteer wilderness ranger, we receive hundreds of positive com-ments by guests hiking in the areas we patrol.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

During our last five-hour patrol on the Booth Falls trail, we count-ed 90 hikers. During this patrol, we interviewed 35 to 40 people.

You would think it was Christ-mas morning. They raved over their wilderness experience and expressed endless comments about the quiet beauty. Some of the visitors came from states and foreign countries with no wilder-ness areas or, say, 0.01 percent of land area designated as wilder-ness, like New Jersey.

One has to stop and think: visi-tors coming to Colorado and hav-ing such a great experience! You know they will come back. This can only benefit a resort economy. Public land is faced with unprecedented threats. With rap-id development, ever increasing mechanical access, diminishing habitat and rapid population increase, we have to support and add more wilderness for future generations.

We’re learning quickly that rare plants and endangered animal species require habitats that are relatively undisturbed. Wildlife needs contiguous migration routes, especially at mid-eleva-tions. The Hidden Gems proposal secures scarce migration routes for wildlife.

Choose a wilderness experi-ence, be rewarded with Mother Nature’s pristine welcome, and give thanks to past generations who were so wise to give us this gift we use today. It’s a natural treasure to revere and enlarge. Future generations will never stop thanking us.

Harald “Hemmie” Westbye

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