Vail Daily letter: Save Gold Peak
January 18, 2017
Dear Mr. (Ski and Snowboard Club Vail Executive Director Kirk) Dwyer,
I understand through your two recent articles in the Vail Daily that you are working diligently towards seeing the Gold Peak expansion plan completed. Your "Perspectives" columns have been somewhat informative, maybe hyperbolic in justifying the expansion. I thank you for starting the necessary dialogue about the proposal.
I first heard of the expansion plan at a holiday dinner party two years ago, where I was sitting next to one of your coaches at the time. He volunteered information about a plan to increase the race training terrain on Gold Peak and ended the conversation stating that it was a "done deal" between the Forest Service, Vail and Ski Club Vail. This got me a little ruffled, as I had never heard of such a plan, being a long time resident. Is there not supposed to be impact statements and public review on things like this? I became curious about what was to happen as my husband and I generally ride Chair 6 to access Vail Mountain. I was continually asking him and many friends, "Where do you think they will be cutting more trees?" Through some prompting, I decided to check with the Forest Service. I met with one of the leads on this in the Minturn office and we sat down while he explained the scope of the project. He gave me a copy of the map illustrating the three runs to be cut from the summit of Gold Peak and various added lifts to access the new race terrain, all for the private use of Ski Club Vail.
Having the plan in hand, I went on to approach many people in the Vail Valley that I thought would be in the know. Vail Town Council members didn't have any information or knowledge on the topic. A few stated that this was beyond the their jurisdiction, "The town of Vail's jurisdiction ends where the mountain begins," I was told.
I talked with someone at the Vail Daily who writes a regular piece thinking there should be some investigative reporting; unfortunately that did not go anywhere. In most every case, I was never invited to show the Forest Service map to anyone or any organization I contacted. Don't people at least deserve to hear about what is brewing when it comes to our public lands?
I have come to many dead ends to raise expansion plan awareness. There is some relief that this is now being talked about but I am saddened that we are having to talk about this at all. Gold Peak is an icon in Vail's history. The aspens at the summit should remain for their beauty and intrinsic ecological qualities. Are the economic benefits to a small privileged group really to take precedent over the value that Gold Peak has to everyone in our valley and all the visitors who come here every season? Are you prepared to take the "heat" when global warming continues and there are just three ugly scars on the top of Gold Peak? The rationale behind this proposal does not add up.
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