Letter: When does common sense come into play with Berlaimont? | VailDaily.com

Letter: When does common sense come into play with Berlaimont?

I arrived in Eagle in the fall of 1998. The local economy was doing well with all of the development. I was in awe of the huge homes being built in some of the most pristine areas in our state.

Being a hunter and a conservationist, my awe has turned into growing concern. I became aware of the declining wildlife in our valley. Then Berlaimont Estates came into the news, requesting a paved, 26-foot wide road across more than four miles of public land, straight through an area that’s closed in winter to protect critical wildlife habitat, so they can access their luxury development year round.

With maps in hand showing wildlife corridors and the proposed road alternative, I visited the area to see for myself how it would be impacted. It became clear to me why local citizens are outraged by the proposal, from the additional loss of wildlife to lost access to their beloved public lands.

In 2002, the Forest Service adopted a Forest Management Plan for the area surrounding the private Berlaimont in holding. This plan cited the importance of the area for deer and elk migration, as well as seasonally closed critical winter range, and has been managed accordingly ever since.

Despite the demerits and technical challenges working against this project, the Forest Service is strongly considering granting a fully upgraded paved or gravel road, insisting they are bound by the ANILCA Law originally designed for land access in Alaska. Local Forest Service employees have stated to me they do not want Berlaimont’s road upgraded.

We need to encourage the stewards of our lands and their attorneys to be focusing on amendment changes to current laws that further protect our natural resources and wildlife, instead of contributing to their demise.

The Forest Service has acknowledged the mistakes of past private development in sensitive wildlife areas, which have had lasting negative effects. The Forest Service has stated controlled prescribed fires are badly needed to attract and sustain our herds again in select areas, get the local residents engaged in volunteer efforts concerning our wildlife habitat. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers have repeatedly stated predator populations also need to be addressed. Knowing the current issues facing wildlife, when does the heart and soul of common sense come into play?

Shirts were printed stating Our Local Wildlife — Priceless. I have been encouraged by the community’s embrace of the message on the shirts. When speaking face to face with anyone about the Berlaimont development, I overwhelmingly see and hear their expressions of outrage that this road project is considered reasonable.

If you’d also like to make a difference, get involved or would like to visit the proposed site with maps in hand, please email: friendsforwildlife2@gmail.com.

Tim R. Wolf

Gypsum