Letter: Donovan, Roberts on Berlaimont
Editor’s note: This public letter was addressed to Scott Fitzwilliams, deputy supervisor for the White River National Forest.
Thank you for your diligent and careful management of public lands. Our constituents are gravely concerned about the Berlaimont Estates access road proposal now being considered by the White River National Forest. Access currently exists to the inholding, but the developer has asked the U.S. Forest Service to approve dramatic upgrades.
The developer would like a 26-foot wide, year-round, paved road across miles of public land to construct and maintain 19 new large luxury home properties and accessory units. The proposed road represents a substantial departure from access normally characteristic of inholdings, and it has potential to set far-reaching precedent that would re-align how we view our natural heritage. The Forest Service’s own analysis of “similarly situated” parcels shows that inholdings are generally accessed via dirt roads and frequently inaccessible in the winter. To the extent that the U.S. Forest Service has an obligation to provide improved access, adequate access to this inholding is achievable without the dramatic upgrades proposed by the developer.
The public land provides important wildlife habitat and has been closed to cars and trucks from Nov. 23-May 22 to protect wintering deer and elk for many years. The Forest Service’s analysis indicates that the developer’s proposal would increase car and truck trips through the area by over 200 trips per day. Wildlife populations that depend on this winter range have been in steep decline for years, and this proposal will only add to that decline. In addition to the negative effects to deer and elk are potential impacts to cutthroat trout, lynx, sage grouse, brewer’s sparrow, and sensitive plant communities. Our constituents have also voiced concerns about community impacts, especially those related to recreation.
In our assessment, the Berlaimont Estates access road proposal is unreasonable on many levels. We believe adequate access already exists to the parcel. We also feel it is important to write you as a common voice to reflect the real and widespread concerns of the people we represent. The desires of a single developer should not outweigh the voice of the community and the long term stewardship responsibility of the USFS for our shared public lands.
Sen. Kerry Donovan, Colorado Senate District 5
Rep. Dylan Roberts, Colorado House District 26