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Give wildlife a break

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to Zach Lentz’ letter in Thursday’s Aspen Times, “Don’t forget mountain bikers.”

I have studied the maps, and Zach’s fears of losing existing mountain bike trails to Hidden Gems on Basalt Mountain are unfounded. The popular 1909 Trail, including its lower, middle and upper loops, are all excluded from the proposed wilderness expansion. Even the 1909 Extension up to Taylor Pass and the Bug Road on Red Table ridge are excluded from the proposed expansion.

I have seen the maps prepared by the Roaring Fork Mountain Biking Association, and they also show the 1909 Trail as excluded from the wilderness expansion. However, their maps do show some hoped-for trail expansions across the proposed Hidden Gem area, from the backside of Basalt Mountain to the Fryingpan side. These trails would not be allowed to be created – they do NOT already exist as legal trails.

I see the proposed Hidden Gems area on Basalt Mountain as a vital land bridge from the high Holy Cross Wilderness, down Red Table and Basalt Mountain to the DOW Lake Christine area, where the DOW has been irrigating this old homestead to grow tall grasses for winter wildlife forage. When elk and deer see fast-moving mountain bikes along a trail they must cross, and encounter them frequently, they tend to alter their routes to avoid encountering people.

I don’t understand why our desires always need to be paramount. Can’t we give wildlife a break in some areas? I love wilderness, and even though I’m an avid mountain biker, I don’t want to see machines of any kind in the wilderness.

There should be some areas, some large and continuous areas where we are NOT the masters of everything, having our recreational way with every trail. We enter wilderness on wild terms. This land belongs to all of us, but it really belongs to wildlife, and we are their guests.

I am in complete support of wilderness on Basalt Mountain, coming all the way down to the DOW land, as close as possible to town. The Basalt side of this mountain is roadless, rocky, steep and wonderfully wild, and I for one will campaign to keep it that way.

If you think we should greatly expand our inventory of mountain bike trails, I suggest getting seriously involved with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, and volunteering to maintain some of the trails we already have. It helps you appreciate riding these trails more often, rather than creating new ones that we don’t have the resources to maintain.

Michael Thompson

Basalt


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