Vail Daily letter: It’s our land
In 1998 I moved to Eagle County from Houston, Texas. My family had been in Texas since before the war for independence. Two of my direct ancestors have their names inscribed on the San Jacinto Monument as participants in the battle that won Texas independence and eventually, in 1845 when Texas joined the Union, brought to the USA portions of present-day Colorado. When Texas joined the Union, a condition of their joining was that Texas retained all of the public land owned by the state. Today there is very little public land in Texas. When I was a boy growing up in Texas I was often envious of my relatives whose families had ranches. They had access to the land. Here in Colorado, we are blessed with access to dramatically beautiful and abundant public land that belongs to the people of the USA. Not only is Texas unbearably hot, but unless you are wealthy and own land or can pay trespass fees to have access to land you are forbidden to roam. One of the things I love the most about living here is the blessing of being able to hike on this land without trespassing.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I drove up Salt Creek Road south of Eagle to hike on Salt Creek Trail. On that road there is a sign declaring that ahead there is no access to public land, no place to turn around, no place to park and drivers should turn around now. Having consulted the map and seeing that the map identified a trailhead and trail ahead we continued. Within a mile or two there was a trailhead with parking. We enjoyed our hike up Salt Creek and look forward to returning soon as it appears to be a great trail for fall color. When I asked the Forest Service in Eagle about the sign, they informed me that one of the landowners up the road wants access to the trail closed because it gets so little traffic and has thus erected the sign so there will be even less traffic, thus supporting his or her desire to deny access to our land. When I suggested to the Forest Service clerk that the sign should be removed as it is giving false information, the clerk responded that it is a “gray area.” I’d like to encourage all of us who value access to our land to take a hike up the Salt Creek Trail, to enjoy our access to this magical land in which we live and to make it impossible for the landowner who wants to deny access to our land to succeed in his or her effort to take what is so valuable from us.
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