Letter: Save the East Vail Bighorns | VailDaily.com

Letter: Save the East Vail Bighorns

As a resident of East Vail for over four decades, I have taken joy in seeing “our” herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in their winter habitat north of the East Vail exit. In the summer, the herd migrates to the high alpine terrain of the Gore Range, but their sole winter home is restricted to the two small, south-facing slopes adjacent to I-70 in East Vail. These sunny slopes offer winter forage, and the cliffs that crown the slopes provide these expert climbers protection from predators. This endemic herd has likely endured on these slopes for millennia.

Ironically, as their meager winter domain comes under threat from development by Vail Resorts, the survival — or demise — of our local bighorns can be sealed with the stroke of a pen.

I urge members of the Vail Town Council to do everything in their power to protect the critical bighorn sheep winter habitat by acquiring the parcel and dedicating it to the town’s open space program, specifying that the parcel will only be used for wildlife habitat purposes.

And, as a 42-year client of Vail Resorts, I urge Vail Resorts to come back to the negotiating table. Other properties are available for much-needed employee housing, including the Ever Vail property just west of Lionshead.

Vail Resorts “purchased” the bighorn habitat by paying a couple of years back taxes. Vail Resorts could name a price double or even quadruple that shrewd investment, and deed the property to the town — think of the PR value of this action! It’s not too late for Vail Resorts’ leaders to keep their Epic Promise, as voiced by former CEO Rob Katz, now the executive chairperson of the board of directors, when he said: “The environment is our business, and we have a special obligation to protect it.”

Frances Hartogh


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