Defining Wilderness | AspenTimes.com

Defining Wilderness

Dear Editor:

Thank you for coming out in support of the Hidden Gems proposal.

Your heading “Supporting Gems, but with a caveat” refers to two issues that you discuss in the editorial content.

One issue is that you feel it is unclear how Wilderness Workshop chose the Gems parcels.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 clearly defines potential areas for Wilderness designation:

(c) A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.

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Both Wilderness Workshop, their partners in the Hidden Gems proposal, and the United States Forest Service use this definition as a guideline in selecting proposed Wilderness.

You also advocate that Wilderness Workshop work with their critics to resolve some of the areas of concern.

Wilderness Workshop has offered to meet with all interested parties to discuss any concerns. There have been meetings with mountain bikers and the result was that over 30,000 acres were eliminated from the proposal. There have been meetings with climbers and proposal lines have been redrawn to accommodate climbers.

The door is open to anyone that wants to discuss the issue. However, having researched these areas and feeling that they have Wilderness potential, we cannot just cave in to people who are opposed to any new Wilderness.

Charles Hopton

Aspen