Hidden Gems for Wilderness | AspenTimes.com

Hidden Gems for Wilderness

Dear Editor:

Wilderness areas and the small addition of Hidden Gems are worthy of protection. Our Wilderness public land in the West and the Roaring Fork Valley should be cherished and saved for generations to come.

So little remains of our beautiful national heritage and our public lands that is not already fragmented by road building, motorized and recreational vehicles, logging, mineral extraction, commercialization and, yes, mountain biking. It is time to take a stand and preserve these last remaining areas and add them to our Wilderness areas so these parcels of pristine land can connect to other swaths of Wilderness needed to support necessary migratory routes for wildlife, in lower meadows, where they can survive and thrive.

The six trails under negotiation of the Hidden Gems acquisition are less than 1 percent of all the hundreds of available trails we can ride. It is less than 2 percent of the 1 percent of the Wilderness land that makes up our BLM land.

I, myself, a mountain biker, enjoy the many trails we have available to us, in the Roaring Fork Valley and surrounding areas of Colorado. These small six trails in the Hidden Gems area make little difference to the majority of mountain bikers who know that preserving these areas is far nobler than blazing over precious intact land.

What disturbs me the most is the reckless disregard for off-track degradation of these various ecosystems. This has been no more apparent than in the past 25 years, in Colorado as well as in Utah. Trail blazing has laid waste to much of the fragile desert.

Mountain bikers often wander off to seek their own trails for there is a sense of thrill in trail blazing. The land just looks infinite, and few are aware of the actual destruction this causes.

I remember myself, in my early mountain biking days, not heeding the rules of staying on track, or ignoring a trail closure in the spring. Little did I realize that such incursions off-track could harm the necessary solitude needed for elk in their breeding grounds.

We cannot rely on every young, venturesome biker to be educated or share the same values of respect and protection we have. It is, therefore, incumbent upon our representatives to help us set policy for protections of the wild and diversity of life for future generations to enjoy.

When vehicles began to lay waste and spoil our national parks in the early 20th century, they had to be regulated by our government from indiscriminate parking and camping. Today mechanized vehicles need to be brought under control and eliminated from those last remaining, special swaths of land, which should remain protected for wildlife.

I completely support the Hidden Gems additions to Wilderness. We have so many trails available for mountain bikes and mechanized vehicles that we should protect these last remaining wilderness areas for posterity.

Junee Kirk


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