A clarification from Shoemaker | AspenTimes.com

A clarification from Shoemaker

Dear Editor:

I want to thank The Aspen Times for its excellent coverage of the wilderness hearing before the Pitkin County commissioners a couple of weeks ago and its companion story on the U.S. Forest Service’s response to unauthorized trail development on Smuggler Mountain. After reading my comments on the unauthorized trail development in the paper, I flinched, recognizing they were harsher than I intended.

When I called on the mountain bike community to do some soul searching, I was talking about trail development and the manner in which some members take it upon themselves to carve out new routes without first going through the public process with the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management to assess the suitability of such activity. Some areas simply aren’t appropriate for trail development for any variety of reasons, including their value as important habitat for wildlife. Near Aspen, Smuggler Mountain and Hunter Creek play an important role for elk, deer, bears and other creatures. Trail cutting and intense riding can be disruptive for these species.

I also was quoted as saying “this community is out of control.” Those words were unnecessarily inflammatory and pejorative. If I could take them back, I would. And, in fact, I tried to clarify my point with Scott Condon, but he published them as I said them anyway. I should have been more specific – I was only referring to the small subset of the mountain biking community that is out there actively and illegally developing trails on public lands without going through the proper process. I understand that the vast majority of people who ride mountain bikes in fact treat the environment and other forest users with respect, and I apologize for suggesting otherwise.

What we all have in common is a shared love of the environment and the fantastic landscape around us. Let’s work together to protect and enjoy it.

Sloan Shoemaker

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executive director, Wilderness Workshop

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