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Fostering stewardship

Dear Editor:We who are blessed to live in the Crystal River Valley enjoy the protection of the White River National Forest and four Wilderness areas, the West Elk, the Maroon Bells-Snowmass, the Raggeds, and Hunter-Fryingpan. In addition to these areas, Pitkin County, through its Open Space and Trails board, has been able to purchase and place in conservation protection many areas otherwise open to residential development in the Crystal Valley. I agree with Delia Malone that the “mere presence of humans induces stress in sensitive wildlife species.” Since most of the most sensitive riparian habitat along the Crystal River is already developed, we must depend on the stewardship values of those residents to coexist with the wildlife displaced by those dwellings. Those areas named by Delia Malone in her letter to the editor on Feb. 9 include Red Wind Point, Janeway, Avalanche Creek/Crystal River confluence, Filoha Meadows and Placita.Some of the land in those areas that was in private ownership and available for residential development is now in public ownership and protected for both wildlife and public use. Not everyone can live in the limited wildlife habitat along the Crystal River, where individuals can share this magnificent area with wildlife and can develop an appreciation for the wild lands that surround us. But, those who live outside that special place can enjoy a taste of those wild places by enjoying the trail that is now in public ownership.Although regulated in their use because of wildlife considerations, wilderness areas, conservation areas, sensitive areas, and trails through those areas, must be accessible to the general public if we are to develop our sense of wonder and awe and respect and obligation for stewardship.While we all place impacts on the planet, we all must work together to lessen that impact and to coexist.On a more regional level, anyone interested in protecting wild places from inappropriate use should review SB 3636, the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act, sponsored by Utah Sen. Bob Bennett and Rep. Jim Matheson. The bill sells off federal land in southwest Utah to benefit development adjacent to St. George. Also, when the Bureau of Land Management attempted to limit use of off-road vehicles in Wayne County (near Capitol Reef National Park) on Factory Butte to protect the area from indiscriminate abuse by those who choose to go outside the recreational area or who choose to create new, unexplored trails, the county officials (and off-road enthusiasts from as far away as Grand Junction,) challenged the BLM authority and permitted unregulated use on federal lands.Perhaps education, early experience with sharing wild lands, wild places and wildlife, and an attitude of stewardship, appreciation, appropriate use and respect would assist all of us in the resolution of the issues we all want to address in a rational and satisfactory solution.Dorothea FarrisCarbondale


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