Wilderness expansion bills will allow our wild spaces to remain wild (letter) | VailDaily.com

Wilderness expansion bills will allow our wild spaces to remain wild (letter)

It has been nearly 40 years since the central Rockies of Colorado saw an expansion of lands designated as wilderness. During that time, the population of Colorado has nearly doubled and many of the places we always thought would be wild have been developed.

In those years, thanks to the foresight of previous generations, the backcountry has remained the backcountry. In seeking to add to those areas, Congressman Polis and Senator Bennet have offered our generation an opportunity to put our own stamp on the conservation of our home.

The Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act will add nearly 100,000 acres to the National Wilderness Preservation Act. Importantly, many of those areas, including the Spraddle Creek addition adjacent to Vail, are lower-elevation areas crucial for the long-term survival of deer, elk and bighorn sheep.

As was recently reported in the Vail Daily, populations of wildlife in Eagle County are under severe stress from development pressures. This includes our elk population, the nation's largest and a national treasure.

In setting aside these lands, allowing nature to be nature and the wild to be wild, hopefully we can begin to allow those stressed populations to rebuild and recover. Nature doesn't need our help, she only needs to be let alone so that creation can continue.

There is, of course, a human element beyond altruism toward our fellow species on this little sphere. The act recognizes that fact with the addition of a new "National Historic Landscape" designation which honors the men who trained at Camp Hale, helped liberate Europe from the grip of fascism and who returned home to start the ski industry.

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Many of us are lucky enough to have known some of these guys. Our kids and grandchildren will not know them, but in protecting the land as our soldiers knew it, our children will be able to imagine them and hopefully be inspired to learn more about them and remember — a memory of great men writ large on the great canvas of our mountains.

Jonathan Staufer