Letter: Forest Service continues to disregard wildlife | VailDaily.com

Letter: Forest Service continues to disregard wildlife

Approval of a new road to Berlaimont Estates confirms the U.S. Forest Service’s continued disregard for wildlife in this valley. This is yet one more in a long list of wildlife-decimating decisions.

Throughout the Eagle Valley and specifically in the Holy Cross Ranger District, the Forest Service has built an abysmal record of protecting our wildlife resources. A few examples of Forest Service decisions that have caused irreparable harm to the valley’s wildlife include ski area expansions at Vail, Beaver Creek, and McCoy Park; the Evercrisp mountain bike trail, and now the Berlaimont Estates road.

Until about 30 years ago, the Forest Service could be depended upon to managing the forest with wildlife protection playing a key role. There were at least one or two wildlife habitat enhancement projects annually. That hasn’t been the case in the last several decades. Cooperative projects with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks and Wildlife) in that time period can probably be counted on one hand.

The Forest Service functioned at one time as a natural resource agency. Only by using an alternate narrative could it be classified as that today. Currently, Forest Service officials appear to be lackeys for rich developers, ski areas and politicians. When rendering a decision that affects wildlife, they go with the money and the politics.

The Berlaimont proposal is unreasonable for the irreparable damage that it will do to public lands and local wildlife. I cannot understand why the Forest Service continues to prioritize damaging development projects over sustainable resource protection. I do know that we aren’t going to have wildlife or wild public lands in this valley if this practice continues. We should all be outraged and looking for better stewards of our public lands.

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Bill Heicher, Retired District Wildlife Manager


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