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MaroonCorps

May Selby
Aron Ralston skis towards the sky during a recent outing in the White River National Forest. Daniel Bayer photo.
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A group of Roaring Fork residents recently came together, forming a club of sorts in the name of conservation. The MaroonCorps is a nonpartisan group of young professionals from around the Roaring Fork Valley who share an interest in local conservation issues.Spearheaded by outdoorsman Aron Ralston and Clare Bastable of the Colorado Mountain Club, the MaroonCorps’ first forum took place on the evening of April 4 at the Cantina.As a kickoff to an event series, the April reception began with a social hour as everyone introduced themselves to one another. Guests represented various conservation groups throughout the valley including the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, the Aspen Valley Land Trust, Rocky Mountain Institute, and the Sopris Foundation.

The group anticipates holding several events a year and, each time, presenting an overview of one conservation issue that either directly or indirectly affects the valley along with a clear plan for taking action. Issues may range from something of a local scope such as initiating a recycling campaign in Carbondale to one of a broader nature such as protecting endangered species.Because Bastable and Sloan Shoemaker of Wilderness Workshop are currently co-chairing a Roadless Area Protection campaign for the Roaring Fork Valley, that became the first topic for discussion.

Ralston began the presentation by describing a recent ski outing he and friend Dan Bayer embarked on as a means of “adopting” a roadless area. They documented their excursion on Red Table Mountain through photos and in writing, which they then sent to Colorado’s Roadless Area Review Task Force.On June 21 in Glenwood Springs, there will be a public hearing conducted by the Roadless Task Force to take input from the community on how much roadless area to protect from development.Bastable followed with staggering facts about development threats throughout the White River National Forest, the most visited national forest in the nation. Offering suggestions on ways to get involved in the defense of our back yard, Bastable encouraged all guests to adopt a roadless area as well as attend the meeting this summer.”This group was essentially started because of discussions [several of us] had about how our generation is typically not that involved in conservation issues,” Bastable said. Though she noted there are many justifiable reasons, ranging from demanding careers to familial obligations, as to why it can be difficult to take action, she feels it goes beyond that. “I don’t believe that our lack of involvement is due to a lack of true interest in conservation issues – rather, the lack of an easy way to plug into campaigns and issues affecting the valley. We started this group in order to make involvement easy and fun for people in our generation, and it seems to be an idea that people are really into.”

Pilot Bruce Gordon of EcoFlight attended the inaugural event and lauded the efforts of the group. EcoFlight is an advocate for the protection of remaining wilderness and wildlife habitat through the use of small aircraft, and provides education programs designed to encourage an environmental stewardship ethic among citizens of all ages. Gordon offered to take groups on aerial tours over the valley as a means of pointing out some of the areas under consideration for development.”This organization is something that we are interested in growing, but we are looking at a “slow-growth” process so that the people involved feel a true sense of buy-in to the organization and help us guide the way that this organization takes form over time,” Bastable added. For anyone interested in learning more about the MaroonCorps, send an e-mail to Clare at bastac@cmc.org.There isn’t a website for MaroonCorps yet, but information on Colorado Roadless Area protection can be found at http://www.wrroadless.org.To contact May to send info, insights or invites, e-mail allthewaymaymay@hotmail.com


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