Leave Sopris alone | AspenTimes.com

Leave Sopris alone

Dear Editor:

Your agency has been asked to consider naming a peak on Mt. Sopris “John Denver Peak.”

The mission of our organization is as follows: The Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association Inc. (CVEPA), established approximately 40 years ago, is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the natural environment and its scenic resources; enjoyment and protection of wilderness, wildlife, forests, and streams; restoration of the natural environment; maintenance of the integrity of the ecosystems found within and around the Crystal River watershed; promotion of greater knowledge of the environmental resources of the valley; and encouragement of human conduct that will sustain these resources.

It is within the scope of our mission to strongly oppose the petition to rename even a part of Mt. Sopris. “The Mountain” is a part of the culture and the community of the Crystal River Valley. Not only is it revered for its spiritual significance, its name is reflected in many business names.

Years ago, the John Denver Sanctuary was designed and created out of Rio Grande Park in Aspen as a tribute to John Denver and as a place of solitude near the Roaring Fork River where visitors might reflect on John’s music and messages. We in the Roaring Fork Valley respect John and enjoy his music. There are many messages there. If we only listen, I believe John Denver might prefer that our thoughts be toward preservation of the wildlife, the planet, and all the people it needs to protect. Perhaps, from his home in Starwood, he, too, appreciated Mt. Sopris and reflected on its significance.

The first recorded expedition to reach the Crystal River Valley was organized by Richard Sopris in 1860. The expedition members named Mt. Sopris in honor of their leader. In 1873 and 1874, Dr. F.V. Hayden, chief of the Geological Survey, entered the Ute territory and surveyed the Crystal River Valley, determining it to be one of the most complex geological formations in the world. The discovery of valuable minerals and broken treaties eventually forced the Utes from their beloved lands. The Utes, too, had a name for Mt. Sopris, an igneous intrusion of crystalline rock called quartz manzonite.

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There are many individuals to honor in the Crystal River and Roaring Fork valleys. Mt. Sopris, with its current name, has the capacity to honor the members of the Ute nation, the settlers, the miners, the educators, the artists, and all those who have worked so hard both to enjoy this special place and to preserve and protect our natural environment.

Please respect the wishes of those who live in this valley, who love the lands, and who understand their sometimes tragic history. Don’t change the name of our mountain, Mount Sopris.

Dorothea Farris

President, Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association