Concerns about Berlaimont Estates (letter)
I have been hearing a lot about the proposed Berlaimont Estates subdivision lately. As more people learn about this plan for an old, private inholding within U.S. Forest Service land north of Edwards, recently acquired by developers, concern is growing over the negative impacts this project will have on our strained ecosystem.
Reviewing the “ANILCA” law, which governs access to private inholding properties, the Forest Service must give enough access to afford “reasonable use and enjoyment” of private land. I think most residents of the valley would agree that a “reasonable” use of Berlaimont’s inholding parcel would be to build summer homes or cabins, not 19 year-round luxury homes and associated infrastructure, requiring 4.5 miles of new modern pavement across our national forest.
Summer use and enjoyment would be logical because that is the historic, relatively benign state of the land that existed, outside of normal land use policy, as the valley developed over the years. Adding additional stress to already struggling elk and deer herds that depend on surrounding Forest Service land for winter survival would be irresponsible. Creating new roads and pavement on public land is the last thing our increasingly fragmented ecosystem needs.
Berlaimont bought this land with full knowledge that it only had summer dirt road access. They were also fully aware that the surrounding wildland had been designated for “elk and deer winter range management” by the Forest Service which requires minimizing disturbances to wildlife herds in the winter. The project would require a revision of the forest management plan, addressing impacts to wildlife, scenery, soils, water quality as well as outdoor recreation and public access.
I realize that my suggestion will not make Berlaimont happy. However, satisfying Berlaimont’s vision of personal extravagance and profit is not the job of the Forest Service. Its job is to protect our public land, our elk and deer, our hunting and fishing and our public recreation. Its job is not to bail out Berlaimont from a bad investment.