Heading down the wrong path | AspenTimes.com

Heading down the wrong path

Dear Editor:Anyone remember the Conundrum Marble Quarry? Some 15 years ago, a local miner decided to develop his marble claim, involving the construction of a road through the Conundrum wilderness area. Ancient federal mining regulations gave him the right to do so.Many of us concerned environmentalists accused him of abusing these regulations in order to profit, not from marble, but rather from the deep pockets of the U.S. Forest Service, who would have to buy him out to prevent this road. Pitkin County’s attorneys got an education on the impenetrable armor of federal regulation which could provide justice, if at all, only some 10 years after the fact. It was the most passionately heated environmental issue I’d seen in my 10 years with Pitkin County.I recall little of legal resolutions as all issues were overshadowed by the disastrous ending, resulting in the death of this beloved, lifelong local – a declared enemy who has since earned my utmost respect as a fearless rogue willing to take on the big boys and risk it all against endless odds for what he truly believed in. There should be a monument to this man in Aspen for all he has taught us.I see a similar scenario being played out through a wildlife preserve in my backyard. Many of the players are the same. The teams are different. They abuse a different set of federal regulations, but the impenetrability is the same. There is no one person seeking to profit at the expense of many, but rather many sincere and dedicated people working long and hard to provide what their public is demanding. While the playing field is different, the principals involved, and more importantly, the impacts to wildlife, remain the same.Slight discretions, easily ignored for such a worthy cause, have accumulated over the years of these efforts and been magnified through the powers of “group think” to create the monster now threatening our wildlife. There is no evil intent or responsible party, just a very powerful group of well-intentioned people supporting each other down the wrong path.There will be no conventional justice in time to save our wildlife. The media must be our courtroom. We are prosecutors and defendants. The plaintiffs have no voice. You are judge and jury. Please don’t dodge your jury duty this week. Your verdict cannot be heard if it’s not voiced. You are the only defense left for our wildlife.RFTA’s Rock Bottom Ranch section is no longer a rail corridor. RFTA’s own plan concedes this because commuter trains must have access to the public. This could only be a freight line. And what might they freight from Aspen? Marble?Jim DukeCrown Mountain