Vail Daily letter: World-class wilderness |

Vail Daily letter: World-class wilderness

Betty Ann Woodland
Vail, CO, Colorado

The following is what I believe to be true and just. The bottom line is that these lands are not ours to do with what we will. They are protected for the enjoyment of future generations. The Hidden Gems issue is not about us and our special interests. It is about what is healthiest for the resource and for those to come.

Out of respect for the 2 percent of wilderness left in the lower 48 states – leave it alone. In particular, we need to preserve the integrity of the environment that brings people to visit Vail and the Eagle River Valley and keep returning to our area for the intrinsic values therein.

Spraddle Creek represents the last possible mid-elevation sanctuary adjacent to Vail for wildlife, migration, breeding and calving, as well as a critical watershed and quiet recreation for those of us who live here and people who visit. It is the only drainage accessible on foot from Vail Village where we can find quiet recreation unaffected by ATVs, motorcycles or mountain bikes.

Shouldn’t a world-class resort such as Vail have world-class wilderness sanctuary nearby, as well?

Part of the reason people visit the mountains is to experience places like Spraddle Creek, where they can experience the joy of solitude within walking distance of town. For locals, once it’s protected, Spraddle Creek will offer people a chance to experience wilderness after work – a rare opportunity.

A small but forceful group of bicyclists is seeking to undermine the designation of Spraddle Creek as wilderness. If the area is not protected, not only will trail development increase in this wilderness gem, but it also leaves it open for logging and motorized recreation.

The Eagle County commissioners recommended wilderness for Spraddle Creek, and it should be part of Mr. Polis’ bill.

The Hidden Gems campaign has worked with mountain bikers so that no existing mountain-bike trails are affected in Eagle County, and around Vail, there are ample areas to expand mountain biking. In Spraddle Creek, our wilderness boundaries have already been changed to accommodate an existing favorite mountain-bike trail and future trail expansion.

Vail Mountain and Vail Pass are vast playgrounds for mountain bikers and motorized recreationists. And west of Spraddle Creek, across Red Sandstone Road, is another vast area of forest already impacted by man (logging, roads, trails) that would be ideal for mountain-bike trail expansion.

Mountain bikers will still have 2,200 miles of roads and trails in the White River National Forest and more than 1,000 miles of trails to ride in Eagle County. And in the future, there are many places to expand riding where there is already human impact, unlike Spraddle Creek, which is wilderness-quality land.

Hidden Gems protects some of the region’s last best backcountry, and Spraddle Creek truly fits the bill for wilderness designation and needs to be part of this legislation.

In the tradition of the late President Gerald R. Ford, who stood against strong opposition to advocate for the Eagle’s Nest and Holy Cross wilderness areas, please step up to protect the Gems, especially Spraddle Creek – the last best, untrammeled place in and around Vail.

Please make your voice heard! Please make a call to U.S. Rep. Polis’ office today and let him know you want Spraddle Creek protected.

Betty Ann Woodland

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