Gems will cause firefighting problems | AspenTimes.com

Gems will cause firefighting problems

Dear Editor:

Late last night I was informed of a proposed change to the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal concerning an area very close to the Aspen community proper. This change will have a direct effect upon the ability of our fire forces to protect the community in the event of a wildfire to that area.

This letter is intended to make you commissioners aware of what you were being asked to support at your meeting Tuesday and what may be considered possible discrepancies into what you are being told by the supporters of this proposal.

Simply put, this last-minute land grab by Mr. Shoemaker and his cronies impinges upon the Wildland Urban Interface area of our town, within which is the area we as fire officials are entrusted to maintain as a safety barrier. Having wilderness so close to our back yard is going to inhibit our ability to make a timely initial attack response to any lightning strikes or manmade fire startups, despite what Sloan Shoemaker would like people to believe. One would wonder why the commissioners would support something like this while spending tens of thousands of our taxpayer dollars on the bark beetle mitigation efforts in the same area.

This last-minute land grab demonstrates that this organization is not to be trusted, either through their promises or opinions. No local fire officials (that I am aware of) were ever made aware of this change to the plan, despite the supposed outreach by the Gems group.

A “midnight” call informing local fire officials of the proposed Wilderness geographical boundary changes on this, and then considering this keeping everyone well-informed, done on the evening before the Gems group seeks political support from the local commissioners, is really quite disrespectful to those entrusted with the community’s safety.

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Ron Baar

deputy chief, Aspen Volunteer Fire Department

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