Vail Valley Voices: Let ’em drive on dirt to national forest in-holding |

Vail Valley Voices: Let ’em drive on dirt to national forest in-holding

Howard Leavitt
Vail, CO, Colorado

I am writing regarding the proposed development of the Berry Creek inholding and road development.

I have been using this area as a biker, hiker and hunter for more than 30 years. I have seen, firsthand, the effect of our increased population density on the wildlife in this area. It would be not only irresponsible but appalling for the U.S. Forest Service to grant permission to pave a road through this area.

From a recreational standpoint, this area is frequented by a large number of people for activities ranging from running to biking to hunting. Ready access provides these people the ability to safely enjoy Forest Service public lands relatively unhindered by the traffic and crowds that would certainly be brought by a paved road.

Ownership of an inholding does not guarantee the promise of “easy” access in order to improve the possibility of easier sales of one’s private, gated development.

Anecdotally, as a hunter, I have personally witnessed the degradation of the deer, elk and grouse populations as subdivisions in Singletree, Wildridge and Cordillera Valley Club have come into play and grown, bringing with them increased numbers of people and vehicles.

While deer and elk are more adaptable, I have certainly seen movement patterns change along with increased carnage on the highways. Increasing population and their use of adjacent Forest Service lands (as well as the disappearance of trapping and the proliferation of predators) has most certainly affected the blue (dusky) grouse population.

It also has been my experience that wherever high-end private development goes, a sense of exclusivity and entitlement goes with it, eventually leading to the exclusion of the public and the compromise of their rights to access and gain “best use” of public lands.

And while the Forest Service’s decision must be based upon scientific and empirical data, market forces and today’s economy must surely come into play in the decision, as another development gone wild, then gone bust, is a very real possibility ” one that would leave the area forever scarred with blacktop in a place where it just does not belong … ever!

If people want to live in the midst of beauty, let them pay the price of a dusty drive to get there in the summer and an invigorating snowshoe or snowmobile ride in the winter.

When it comes to private use of our public lands, people should bend to meet the needs of the land not the other way around ” especially when it is profit driven.

It is for these reasons that I strongly urge you to deny this use of our lands.

Howard Leavitt is a resident of Avon.

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