Letter: Berlaimont development will be bad for wildlife
This letter is regarding the potential construction of a paved road across U.S. Forest Service land to the proposed construction known as the Berlaimont Estates in the area of Berry Creek and June Creek on the north side of Interstate 70 above Edwards. The proposed access route would involve paving Forest Service road 774 and 780, roads that have provided access to pristine mountain biking, hiking, hunting and general recreation for the people of Eagle County for many years.
Beyond the potential access issues that a paved and likely gated road would lead to in this area, a bigger issue facing a development and construction project of such size is the increasing encroachment on wildlife habitat in Eagle County.
I grew up in Edwards, and this past fall my dad and I hunted the Piney Lake and Muddy Pass areas and the Berry Creek and June Creek areas. The Muddy Pass area was hunted heavily by people from out of state on ATVs and side-by-sides. Now I am not bashing this method of hunting, as it can lead to great success and because people from out of state pay high prices for tags that help conservation in our state, and these people put many dollars into our local economy through general spending while in town.
I chose to hunt a very specific area on Berry Creek. My reason was simply that the Forest Service had recently closed this road, meaning there would be extremely little pressure on animals from motorized vehicles. This area was a great choice as I encountered many deer and elk every day here. Granted, I was roughly 5 miles and 3,000 feet in elevation from my truck, but that’s beside the point.
This ridge on Berry Creek is directly across from where the proposed road would be built. This is not good, as the deer and elk populations in Eagle County are declining rapidly as they feel more pressure from people in the area. Whether it be from construction or more recreation, they are choosing to leave the valley for more desolate areas. This road and construction project would only reduce the already dwindling habitat that deer and elk have in our valley.
Beyond the impact this development would have to our local animals, I can only imagine this would lead to reduced access to hiking and biking. I have been using the Berry Creek and June Creek areas for biking, hiking, four-wheeling and general shenanigans for as long as I can remember. This proposed paved road would take you right to the start of the popular Endo Alley bike trail. Now I don’t think riding up a paved road (if it would even still be allowed) to Endo Alley would be all that fun.
So, I ask all my fellow hunters, hikers, bikers, dog-walkers and general recreation enthusiasts to voice your opinion and concerns about this potential construction. It is our voices that make a difference.