Mayor undermines Forest Service’s stance
August 27, 2012
I am writing to share my utter dismay at Mayor Mick Ireland’s call “to all of Aspen to power up the Pass today,” which landed on Thursday’s front page of the Aspen Daily News.
After Scott Snelson, Aspen-Sopris ranger with the U.S. Forest Service, communicated in a letter to the editor last Saturday how impacts to the alpine ecosystems were playing a very large roll in how the Forest Service was making decisions regarding the bike races, this seemed as if Mick was thumbing his nose somehow. Scott brought to light the potential for impacts up the pass and made a very thoughtful, and unfortunately, politically dicey decision.
As a biologist in the area, I am, regrettably, intimately familiar with the extreme, and I mean extreme, pressures being put on government-owned open lands and hence their ecosystems by the recreational community today. It is as if anyone who enjoys our wonderful landscapes – pick your recreational pursuit – feels authoritative enough to tell land managers, informed by biologists and resource specialists, how things should be. Even in supposedly environmentally friendly Aspen, wow, how the almighty dollar or personal interests often win over any creature considerations.
So that’s why I really want to give huge kudos to Scott Snelson for making the decision to exclude camping on the pass during the race based on consideration of ecosystem impacts. It’s absolutely the right thing to do.
The event was still wonderful! We as a community need to give more than just lip service to caring for the amazing environmental amenities we are so blessed to have. We can so vehemently point the finger at someone else, but when it comes to our own personal part in landscape impacts, we need to embrace reining those in to. The Forest Service deserves a really big hand for standing up for the plants and critters in a fragile system despite the potential for political fall-out.
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