Letter: No to Berlaimont
The Berlaimont luxury estate development proposed on a private inholding within the White River National Forest above Edwards will create fragmentation and certain demise of the elk population.
A dirt road through Forest Service property currently allows legal access. Some improvements could be made to the road without paving it. This would be in line with other inholdings on the White River National Forest.
Instead, the Forest Service wants to approve a permanent paved two-lane road that climbs 2,000 feet above the valley floor. The road will require salt and sand in winter, causing environmental degradation and attracting animals to the road. Several 100-foot- to 400-foot-long retaining walls on both sides would be suicide for elk as they dodge heavy vehicle traffic, domestic water trucks, snowplows and emergency vehicles.
This road would obliterate migration patterns. Citing Brett Jesmer, University of Wyoming, if a migration corridor is blocked, changed or lost, it takes generations to establish a new path. Calf loss prevents transmission of knowledge.
The current road is closed from Nov. 22 to May 21 to protect deer and elk. However, the Forest Service plans to remove critical winter habitat protections to accommodate the developer’s road. The dwindling elk herds are struggling to survive, often in starvation mode. Stressed cows have calf loss, and low weaning weights, resulting in plummeting herd numbers.
Retired CPW Wildlife Officer Bill Andree reports the animals do not relocate, “they just die.”
The Forest Service mission statement is to “listen to the people and respond to their diverse needs in making decisions.” Four thousand people signed a petition opposing this road. Superintendent Fitzwilliams must follow agency directive and take the no-action alternative.
If wildlife is to accompany us into the future we must conserve now.
If we fail, there will be simply islands of extinction within landscapes.
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