Fryingpan Caucus opposes Hidden Gems
December 2, 2009
I am writing to express my concerns over the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal, especially in the Fryingpan River Valley. The original proposal by Hidden Gems included two guest resorts, a pre-existing summer-home development, and a working ranch.
None of these properties by the furthest stretch of the imagination should have ever been considered in a Wilderness designation. The point being that although the Hidden Gems officials claim that they have been researching the proposal for five years, it does not reflect much research at all.
It also has become painfully apparent that Hidden Gems is not representing all forest users, but only those involved in a few activities they consider environmentally friendly. Public lands were designated for responsible use by the public, not just hikers, bicyclists and skiers. Many of us are dependent on forest resources such as firewood, which requires the use of motorized vehicles to remove.
In the Hidden Gems proposal there has been little if no consideration given to the elderly or disabled who also enjoy the forests and cannot participate in an activity without the use of a motorized vehicle. This requires the use and maintenance of pre-existing, off-highway roads.
The White River National Forest is composed of 2.3 million acres; 751,900 acres, or 33 percent, is already designated Wilderness. It is and has been a pleasant working balance without need for change.
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Although Hidden Gems has made some concessions to their original proposal in the Fryingpan Valley, they have been basically token gestures. At a recent Fryingpan Caucus meeting there was a 92 percent margin voting in favor of not accepting further proposals by Hidden Gems.
I urge everyone involved or affected by the Hidden Gems proposal to do their homework, since there may be some deception in their plan. Please also consider that the present Hidden Gems proposal may only be an introduction to their ultimate goals.