The future of our local wildlife is up to us; just say ‘no’ to paved access to Berlaimont (letter) | VailDaily.com

The future of our local wildlife is up to us; just say ‘no’ to paved access to Berlaimont (letter)

Editor's note: Find a cited version of this letter at http://www.vaildaily.com.

Picture it, the year is 2025: "What's an 'elk,' Mom?"

The future is up to us. Will our grandchildren know the beauty of seeing an elk with her calf grazing in Eagle County, of hearing the bull elk bugle during rut? Or will the elk be gone?

We are fortunate to live in a community that values the great outdoors, nature and wildlife. Many of us live here and came here because of those values; it's our responsibility to protect them.

The Berlaimont "boondoggle," as it was referred to in the Saturday, Sept. 1, column by Andy Wiessner ("Berlaimont is a boondoggle, not a done deal"), proposes approximately 5 miles of paved road access through White River National Forest in order to build on 19 35-acre parcels.

Another editorial on Sunday, Sept. 16, "Don't be appeased on Berlaimont," by Anni Davis, also included a link to the draft Forest Service Plan, which reviews alternatives being proposed. The following was taken directly from that plan:

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"The proposed upgrading and new construction of a road under any action alternative would result in the loss of elk winter range, elk winter concentration area, elk severe winter range and other seasonal habitats that would be additive to declining effective habitat availability in DAU E-12, due primarily to winter range lost to development, habitat fragmentation and year-round recreational impacts."

Additionally, one of the actions recommended in the draft Forest Service Plan under the Mitigation for Wildlife section was removal of road kill (p. 54) … that sums up the impact to wildlife.

Colorado Division of Wildlife data reflect a 50 percent reduction in the number of elk in Eagle County since 2007. This is due to human impacts including loss of winter habitat primarily from development, habitat fragmentation and effects from increasing recreation. Isn't it our responsibility to stop the bleeding?

I spoke with Matt Klein at the Minturn Forest Service office and he indicated they are still accepting public comments, so please email your feedback to him at matthewklein@fs.fed.us as soon as possible. Ask the Forest Service to honor their own Code of Federal Regulations and Land Management Plan (Category 5.41) and limit Berlaimont's future access to the existing road(s).

We are at a crossroads and each choice that is made can have irreversible and irretrievable impacts on our community and the wildlife that is trying to coexist with us. Be a voice for our values and for wildlife; just say "no" to a paved access road through White River National Forest public lands for Berlaimont!

Jacci McKenna

Eagle