Vail Daily letter: Take care of your federal lands
Vail, CO, Colorado
This letter is in response to Mr. Kuhnmuench’s letter calling me inflammatory. I certainly hope so. That was the intention.
Point by point. The BLM and national-forest lands are both federal, which is what I said in my letter.
One problem is that the BLM is even more understaffed than the Forest Service. As far as I know, there is no BLM office in Eagle County and only one BLM person assigned from outside to watch over our entire area.
Because federal land belongs to all of us, it seems we leave it to the other person to take care of. The conclusion I have to draw is
that every person’s property is no person’s responsibility.
Many seem to think the other guy will clean up, or they just don’t care or don’t think at all. I don’t see a lot of ATVs coming off the federal land with bags of garbage they have collected. I do see a lot of vehicles coming off the federal land coated in mud from where they have been out proving their masculinity. And I see tire tracks so deep they will take centuries to heal.
Being young is no excuse for being trashy. Parents should be able to instill a sense of respect and responsibly for the public lands in their children from the first day they set foot on it.
I have five sons who have been hiking, fishing and hunting on the federal lands since they could walk.
I have been exploring almost every corner of Eagle County since I got here almost 50 years ago. If my sons and I have room in our packs, or in our hands, we carry out whatever trash we find, which is ample, even in wilderness areas.
I know many other folks who do the same, but it’s a losing battle against the increasing amounts of garbage being left in recent years.
If the ATV and car-camper folks want vehicle access, they should prove they are worthy of it.
Otherwise there will be movements to close more and more roads. Hidden Gems is just a tiny fraction of the public lands, reasonably pristine because there has never been easy access. The proposal needs to be approved.
Bottom line, federal lands come with responsibilities that do not include a right to abuse. I believe it’s an enforceable law, but unfortunately there is very little personnel hired by our government for that purpose.
So we as citizens have to pick up the slack, which is why I write these letters.
There are no excuses. There should be no tolerance. When you visit the federal lands, you should try to leave them in better shape than you found them.
This does not mean stopping responsible grazing, logging, hunting, hiking, climbing, fishing, etc., or closing existing roads and campgrounds.
But it does mean being careful and responsible so others can have similar high-quality experiences generations from now.