Benefiting wildlife, alone |

Benefiting wildlife, alone

Dear Editor:I have a very different point of view from the premises expressed in John Hoffman’s letter to the editor (March 27) regarding a paved trail up the Crystal River Valley. In brief, John’s letter implies that wildlife and wildlands need managing and that wildlands should be managed to benefit humans. I believe what wildlife needs to thrive is to be left alone by humans and to have sufficient undisturbed natural habitat in which to live – a very large body of scientific evidence supports this opinion. To be clear, I believe that the natural habitat in the Crystal Valley where Pitkin County (and the Carbondale Trail Committee) wants to develop a paved trail (including Red Wind Point, Filoha meadows, Avalanche Creek, Janeway and Placita) provides critical wildlife habitat. While these places are not pristine (a railroad used to run through them) many decades have passed with virtually no disturbance from humans and with most other places in the valley developed, these last bits of remaining (recovered) natural habitat have become extremely important for wildlife.I value these areas for their importance to wildlife – not for their recreational or leisure value to humans. Recreational opportunities abound in this valley as do educational, fresh air and solitude opportunities – what is lacking is high quality, undisturbed riparian habitat for wildlife, set aside solely for the benefit of wildlife. A large body of scientific research also supports the idea that trails introduce disturbance that many native wildlife species cannot tolerate – habitats that are invaded by trails are essentially lost to wildlife. Surely we can find the generosity of spirit to maintain these areas for wildlife – surely we don’t need to build a trail into every bit of remaining open space and, by doing so, destroy the wildlife that the county and CTC professes to be advocating for.A county-commissioned feasibility study has determined that building the bike trail within the existing highway corridor is feasible and safe. For those of you who value wildlife and wildlands please tell the county and the CTC to NOT build the bike trail in wildlife habitat. Tell the county to protect critical wildlife habitat by employing a strategy like the one that was developed for North Star Nature Preserve, where recreation and a bike trail is allowed only on the highway side of the river and where habitat on the far side of the river is off limits to human recreation or development.Delia MaloneRedstone