Letter: Protect wildlife or build a zoo
Maybe Eagle County needs to begin setting aside land for a zoo. With the elk and deer populations plummeting in the past several years, and the last bighorn sheep threatened, it will take only a short time for us to have no wildlife to see in nature, so we better make plans to build a zoo. It could be a real economic boost for us when the animals are gone from their natural habitat in Eagle County.
We’ll need an extra-big pen for a lone moose. Let’s include a pen for the last elk; and another pen for mule deer, big enough to hold several deer so people can get the concept of what a herd once was. Likewise, bighorn sheep, since their home in East Vail is being rampaged. A cuddly bear cub is a cute draw and its mom will be gone anyway. There should be a mountain lion, too, because it will have run out of food in the wild.
If you think I’m kidding, think again. The Berlaimont development in Edwards is a prime example — one that would set a precedent of drastic overreach for development. Construction of 19 mansions amidst the last critical deer and elk winter habitat in the upper valley will put a nail in the coffin of wildlife. The proposed 4.3-mile paved road through Forest Service land to reach it will be a disaster, with walls as high as 30 feet on steep slopes.
Until deer grow wings, this is a deathtrap for them. The presence of year-round human occupation will push elk out of their calving areas and allow dogs to run freely and chase beleaguered wildlife deep in the National Forest. The developers knew what they bought and they have all the legal access they’re entitled to. The Forest Service needs to stand firm on this and deny a permit to pave the road. The owners will still have appropriate season access via the existing dirt road.
If Berlaimont is approved, it will set a dangerous precedent. Do we need a zoo for the last remnants of wildlife, or can we turn toward conservation? What legacy do we want to leave our children and grandchildren? Saturday, Sept. 28 is National Public Lands Day. Eagle County citizens are blessed to be stewards of immense public lands. These lands and the ecology they support is the basis of our economy, and some would say spiritual economy. Take a moment to speak for the animals who have no voice. Please demand protection of our lands. Learn how at http://www.wildernessworkshop.org/buck-berlaimont/.