Vail Daily letter: We shrunk Gems bid after talks | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: We shrunk Gems bid after talks

Steve Smith
Vail, CO, Colorado

I appreciate your continued coverage of the important landscapes and policy questions in the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal.

In Eagle and Summit counties, Hidden Gems representatives have met extensively with knowledgeable advocates for motorized travel, for bicycling and for other public-lands recreation for almost two years.

With the help of their expertise and advice, we adjusted the original Hidden Gems wilderness proposal so that the final proposal accommodates existing and future bicycling on over 20,000 acres of public land. We removed nearly 40,000 acres of land for snowmobiling.

We have also resolved issues with hunting guides, climbers and hang gliders, among others, so that their activities will be minimally affected by the Hidden Gems.

Wilderness protection is about much more than recreation. It is about protecting our precious, unique environment from the kind of degradation that occurs with all types of human activity, including mining, logging, road building and certain recreational activities.

Wilderness designation puts some limits on motors and wheels, but it is important to do that for the most wild and ecologically important areas of our backcountry.

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The Hidden Gems contain high-quality habitat and shelter important water resources. They are truly our most valued landscapes. By protecting them with wilderness designation, we are building on our community’s longstanding legacy of environmental stewardship and ensuring that future generations will find the wild and colorful Colorado that sparks our curiosity and imagination today.

Thank you again.

Steve Smith

Glenwood Springs