Letter: Fourth-generation Coloradan applauds recent wilderness act proposal
January 30, 2018
Dear editor: Thank you, Sen. Bennet and Rep. Polis, for sponsoring the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act. I applaud you for standing up for Colorado values — clean, healthy forests, streams and air.
As a fourth-generation Coloradan, a business owner in Vail and a rancher in Gunnison County, I love the outdoor opportunities and vast wild spaces that our state offers. I grew up in a mining family in Climax, became a ski racer and spent a lot of time hunting, horseback riding and hiking throughout the mountains. I believe I share many of the same values as my neighbors, including a desire to protect the wild places of Colorado for future generations.
In my lifetime, I have seen mining, oil and gas drilling devastate our lands and contaminate our rivers and drinking water. The loss of wildlife habitat has been tremendous, and the hunting nowadays reflects this degeneration and resulting herd fragmentation.
Wilderness is the best protection we have for public lands, the best way to conserve wildlife habitat, protect clean water and preserve Colorado's heritage. I support wilderness because I know that ranchers are great stewards of the land, and wilderness complements this stewardship.
As a businessman, I support wilderness because I recognize that abundant wild lands, healthy ecosystems and outstanding opportunities to hunt, fish, raft, hike and view wildlife make up the foundation of Colorado's mountain economies. As a fourth-generation Coloradoan, I am very excited about protecting one of our state's legacies to the country and to the world, Camp Hale.
I urge Sen. Gardner to acknowledge that Colorado's greatest economic assets are its beautiful wild lands and join Sen. Bennet and Rep. Polis in sponsoring this bill.
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Colorado's population continues to skyrocket, and our natural resources suffer more and more pressure. Thus, there is no better time to protect our last wild places, because at the rate we're going, these lands will most likely be flattened, drilled, mined and fragmented in the near future.
Our surrounding ecosystems have existed for hundreds of thousands of years without human management, and to remain healthy, we must let them thrive without human incursions.
I want my grandchildren and their grandchildren to be able to experience these mountains as I have been able to.