A larger public purpose
(This letter was originally written to the Pitkin County commissioners.)Dear Editor:As you know, my name is Marcella Larsen and I am a member of the County Planning & Zoning Commission. I am here today to speak on my own behalf, and not for County P&Z.I hope that you will support the current Hidden Gems proposal – which has been modified numerous times to take into account different user group interests who want to use this land. Public access will still be afforded to all of the land.At the end of the day, however, there will never be complete consensus. And, consensus decision-making when it confronts the environment and sustainability is an inadequate decision-making model. (Should we, for example, decide by consensus whether we care if a species is eradicated? The wolf? The black-footed ferret? The bald eagle?) Shouldn’t there be a larger ethical imperative at work here? I believe this community counts on you to advocate for Wilderness, even if there are some users who oppose this designation. We are Pitkin County: Don’t we claim to be on the forefront of land-use regulation? Aren’t we ardent protectors of wildlife? Aren’t we fundamentally concerned with the environment – both the natural and built environment?The reality is that these sensitive lands matter in ways that are more important than the individual user interests – there is a larger public purpose that transcends the individual. Let’s walk our talk and support Hidden Gems.As Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote many years ago in her book, “Cross Creek:””We cannot live without the earth or apart from it, and something is shriveled in a man’s heart when he turns away from it and concerns himself only with the affairs of men.”Let’s look to the larger public purpose. Thank you for listening.Marcella LarsenAspen
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Pitkin County administrators are proposing a more than $142 million budget for 2020, which is about $6 million less than this year because of fewer construction projects and capital improvements.