Letter: It’s not too late for the bighorn sheep | VailDaily.com

Letter: It’s not too late for the bighorn sheep

I have been following the paper’s coverage of the proposed Booth Heights development. I am disappointed in the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission’s 4-3 decision to pass the plan. As all the non-Triumph, former members of the Colorado Parks and  Wildlife biologists have testified, the declining bighorn sheep herd will probably now die off because of this decision because the mitigation efforts proposed by Triumph are not likely to work.  

It is a shame that once again development is chosen over preservation of the very things that brought so many of us and our tourists here in the first place.  This is a herd that has probably been here for thousands of years, as reported by biologist Gene Byrne, long before we changed the name of the Eagle Valley to the Vail Valley.  This remnant population are the last survivors of the successful ancestors who beat the odds and were (survival of) the fittest.

Now we come along and threaten their very existence, instead of insuring their survival. Here is my suggestion, and it is not too late to do this. Because the sale of this land to Triumph is contingent upon approval, I’m not certain money has even changed hands yet. Vail Resorts can easily renege on the deal if money has not changed hands, or return what they have received from Triumph, and then help Triumph locate a less-destructive site for development.  This property can then be turned over to the Eagle Valley Land Trust to be saved into perpetuity, and then the habitat can be improved and possibly even developed with an observation platform for us locals and tourists to watch the sheep from. Wouldn’t that be a great story for Vail Resorts to put up on its website!

Vail Resorts representatives claim they are good environmental stewards and are interested in lowering their carbon footprint and living more sustainably.  Well, here is their chance to put their “money where their mouth is.” They didn’t even realize they owned the property until 2016, and only paid two years worth of taxes to procure it.  I’m asking either for Vail Resorts to renege the deal or for the Vail Town Council to refuse the commission’s decision and consider this instead.

There is still time to do the right thing, on behalf of these bighorn survivors and future human generations. This could be a win-win-win-win for the sheep, the community, Triumph, and Vail Resorts.  I’m certain the community would even volunteer to build the observation platforms if you were to accept this as an option. I know I would. I’m just saying …    

Rich Ranieri

Bellyache Ridge