Letter: East Vail development is not positive for wildlife
The present political climate is not good for the environment. As stewards of our valley, from Gypsum to Vail, we must be wary and vigilant. We cannot give up fighting for what is most precious in our valley: wildlife and open space.
Are we sacrificing too much as we grow? Is there an end in sight? Are we going to continue to build on every square inch of the valley and even into National Forest? There is something ominous about too much growth: it slowly oozes in, erasing our memory of what was.
There is a threat to wildlife in East Vail. A battle is going on to stop a housing development from driving a herd of bighorn sheep from their critical winter habitat. Reliable science tells us the sheep will not survive when the construction begins and when people move in. I have heard, “They will just move away, downvalley aways.” That is not the way the biology of sheep works: they will move but it will lead to their demise.
Right now, the sheep need serious habitat enhancement that cannot be done in a few weeks. It will take years to do what’s needed: a controlled burn, pruning, and seeding over hundreds of acres. The permitting and funding processes alone take time.
The 5-acre piece of land at the East Vail entrance is not the last piece of land in the town of Vail suitable for housing. There are other options which fit the designation of a housing zone.
The town of Vail should negotiate with Vail Resorts to keep this critical area as open space. The sheep are depending on us, the PEC and town council to protect their home and ensure their survival. Then, the other possible housing options within town should be pursued.