A letter to the Eagle County Commissioners about Berlaimont (letter) | VailDaily.com

A letter to the Eagle County Commissioners about Berlaimont (letter)

I am writing regarding the Berlaimont Estates development and paved road that has been proposed for an inholding within our Forest Service land here in Eagle County. I would urge you to review the county’s position and to use whatever means available to prevent this project from moving forward as long as the paved road is included.

It has been well documented, empirically, by CPW and the U.S. Forest Service that the big game population has declined precipitously in Eagle County. The proposed Berlaimont development sits smack dab in the middle of critical winter range, as designated by the Forest Service’s own Forest Management Plan. If anything, the status of the wildlife population has fallen even more since that designation was put in place. Knowing this, the developer, would like to pave a 4.5 mile road across our shared public land in order to enhance his ability to reap a profit from his investment. While the Forest Service is, by law, required to provide access to the owner for “reasonable use and enjoyment,” it has full discretion as to what, in fact, that entails. Regardless of what the regional forest supervisor might say, the agency is not required to facilitate the profitability of a speculative investment.

The spirit of ANILCA was intended to provide access to those wanting to enjoy the use of their property within federally held lands, not to enable them to turn a profit at the expense of the wildlife, whose well-being and viability fall under the purview of the agency as spelled out in their own mission statement. The developer, knowing full well that the parcel in question already had an adequate dirt road to access the property, speculated that he could turn a profit by leveraging ANILCA to his benefit.

With over 2,400 signatures collected from your constituents, and nearly 800 written comments, overwhelmingly against the development, it is pretty obvious that this project is unwanted and unnecessary. The impact of years of road construction and the ensuing development of the 19 luxury homes and servant’s quarters will be enormous and have a deleterious effect on an area that is used not only by the wildlife in the winter, but also as a highly enjoyed recreational outlet for the county’s hikers, bikers, wildlife viewers and more. The existing road, with some regular grading, should provide more than adequate access for summer homes on the parcel, with the existing winter closure remaining in place, per the Forest Management Plan’s winter range designation.

I hope our County Commissioners will heed the voice of their constituency and make it known to the Forest Service that this road has no place in our county.

Howard Leavitt

Avon