Letter: An open letter to Forest Service to stop Berlaimont
As a recent immigrant to the Colorado mountains, I have come to love the area and the lifestyle. I am the mother of three, and grandmother of eight, and for them, I want nothing but the best for their future and their lives in this beautiful land.
I’m not naïve enough to think that this valley does not survive on the influx of second-home owners and year-round skiers and hikers. They are what keep our economy going. We need them. But we also need the open land that supports the beauty and wildlife of this area. The Berlaimont project is not just about a single development. If a paved road to this particular inholding is approved, this will become a precedent throughout the United States allowing the destruction of public land everywhere for the benefit of a few.
I have heard arguments that say according to Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act designation that the road must be approved. I’m not a lawyer, but I know enough of the law and legal argument to know that scholars will argue in court over the interpretation of a word. The meaning of “reasonable” access, if argued from the perspective of the status quo, the rights of the public ownership of the land and the needs of the wildlife to live on the land, could easily mean maintaining the dirt/gravel road access and denying the building of a topped road for the exclusive inholding development.
For the Berlaimont project, the Forest Service will have to abandon its own regulatory closure of the area during calving season. Is it “reasonable” to abandon wildlife on the public land of which we are the stewards? To me that alone would be enough to keep access as it presently exists. The inholding was purchased with that restriction in place, the buyers were well aware of it and we should not cede our land for this change in access.
There is not an existing inholding that fits the same parameters as this one. There have been no requests for this sort of access before, which if decided in favor of the developer, will cause a domino effect for similar access. Approval of this project won’t just destroy an endangered elk herd in the Edwards area, it will open up the possibility of that destruction everywhere in the country. We will lose what is most valued here, our wildlife and our public land.
We are the stewards of this land. I am begging you to see this for what it is, the destruction of our most precious resource, our endangered public land. We need to see the Berlaimont area for what it is, a fragile ecosystem that will not survive trucking water through wild grazing ground. Please don’t let it happen.