August 14, 2008
Jim Dukes’ insightful description of the failure of decision making and paving the natural riparian area at River Bottom Ranch is the same scenario playing out in the Crystal River Valley from Nettle Creek to the north entrance into Redstone. Dale Will and Dorothea Farris deceive local residents by acquiring the open space we all desire and then assault the same space by “developing it” with high-impact recreation. It’s not really about open space, its about trails ” “inappropriate” trails.
Carbondale Recreation and Trail officials, a few Crystal Caucus leaders, and many influential members of the Crystal River EPA, of which Dale recently became a director, were invited to visit the Filoha Meadows Nature Preserve by the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails (OST) board. On the surface, this appeared to be a sincere effort by OST to get a closer look. It turned out to be about justifying their plan to open the Meadows to unregulated public foot traffic. Invited “officials” were given the same story about “cheat grass” control that was also presented at the 2005 Red Wind management plan presentation and Dale’s story about the historic wagon trail that came through the area in the 1890s. Enhancement of the area by “cheat grass control” is part of the justification for allowing the unrestrained public presence. Not one word was presented during the visit about the six species of orchids, the rare spike rushes, beaver wetland, fireflies, the elk calving, concentrations, bighorn lambing or rare bat caves. Just “cheat grass.” One should ask the Division of Wildlife (DOW) about the progress made at Red Wind Point by the OST cheat grass program over the past three years. Now the phrase is, “adaptive management.”
We have to ask why the county OST would go to such great lengths to have their way imposed on the valley. They will not give up on getting their foot in the door and establishing the precedent of a public presence. This will lead to “recreational tourism” in the small remaining relatively unfragmented USFS lands and documented critical wildlife habitat buffered by the river. Not to mention the view shed of sustainable and watchable wildlife treasured by the majority of constituents in the valley. This is the real resource into the future.
Dale Will and the OST established their agenda for Filoha and the east side of the Crystal Valley publicly in September 2002 and have not deviated from it. Dale states, “one of the primary incentives in putting the deal together (Filoha) was to link up a critical section of the old Crystal River Railroad, so it could be used as a trail.” It completes a series of acquisitions that will provide an eventual trail extending from the North Redstone entrance along the east side of the Crystal River to the confluence at Avalanche Creek and Janeway (The Valley Journal, Sept. 4, 2002).
The DOW have told them not to go there, Forest Service public comments have told them not to go there, the Crystal River master plan, wildlife report and their own studies tell them not go there. They will soon formally announce they are going.
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