After meeting with representatives from Wilderness Workshop on March 4 in one of their “scheduled” meetings with various user groups, I have come to the conclusion that conflict resolution is not their primary concern.
Together with a small group of individuals representing the Glenwood Springs-based 4-wheel-drive club Hi Country 4-Wheelers, I met with Sloan Shoemaker and Ginny Harrington, I thought, to discuss the issues important to our club. My hopes for a meaningful dialogue were quickly dashed when one of our representatives asked an early question about why a particular oak brush-riddled area was even being considered for Wilderness designation. Sloan’s response was, “We want to avoid having a debate about Wilderness, and do some map work.”
“Map work” seems to be Wilderness Workshop’s way of avoiding the “dialogue” of which they profess to be interested. If presenting a user group with a set of maps, and a few markers, and asking them to “mark up the maps” is their idea of resolving conflict, then I urge any future groups to either mark up the entire map, or cancel their meeting until a real discussion can be scheduled.
We were not given the opportunity to “discuss” the issues as we see them, and felt like we were just another line checked off a list. There are certainly a select few areas that we, as Hi Country 4-Wheelers, agree that could be appropriate as Wilderness, but in general, we oppose the addition of more Wilderness areas in the White River National Forest. I feel that Wilderness Workshop will use this meeting to claim that they have met with our “user group,” and resolved any conflict, but it was not the consensus of the five representatives of Hi Country 4-Wheelers that our concerns were truly addressed, nor that anything was “resolved.”
Wilderness Workshop: If you truly want to resolve conflict, we need to have a meaningful conversation about why you need more Wilderness, and why we, as responsible stewards of our backcountry, believe that there are more appropriate means to “protect” the lands in question, while still allowing access to various user groups.
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Friends of Colorado Avalanche Information Center has contributed to the state’s avalanche center for several years to help with forecasting for backcountry visitors. It cannot hold in-person fundraisers this year so its asking supporters to sign up for an annual membership.