More Filoha Meadows |

More Filoha Meadows

Dear Editor:

Pitkin County Commissioner Dorothea Farris has offered some “facts” (The Valley Journal, June 12), which are supposed to be “clarifications” of “errors” on my part regarding the draft Filoha Meadows Nature Preserve Management Plan in a letter to the editor. What she managed to do was obscure language I took directly from the plan itself. She clarifies for us that “unrestricted summer foot traffic” is during the months of July, August and September. I guess we shouldn’t just assume they are. What she is really saying is that because it’s just for three months, it justifies violating what has been designated a preserve by allowing the unmanaged foot traffic.

Unrestricted public access is proposed along the 66-year-old abandoned railroad grade. It is not called “the old wagon road” in the plan, which states, “it will be maintained as a soft-surface trail, 6-8′ in width.” The Open Space and Trails (OST) program standards and specifications for trails defines “soft-surface” treatment as crusher fines or crushed rock, and is found in the 1993 Trail Design and Management handbook adopted by the Pitkin County OST Program. This sounds very much like an improvement.

It is the other of two proposed public-access points that is to remain dirt and unimproved, and which is entirely appropriate for providing an outstanding environmental experience for the public. The 350 petition signers understand very well the difference between the two proposed access points, and they want the entire preserve managed in a way that will preserve the resource, with both managed as interpretive pathways.

If unrestricted pedestrian traffic is allowed to walk along the future and unmentioned bike trail, they may possibly be inspired by the vista, but they will go home not knowing or understanding the unique flora, fauna, historic and geologic features that are so special and precious at only the Filoha Meadows Nature Preserve. Education is the key to maintaining these habitats, and by talking to and teaching the public, we continue the knowledge transfer for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

William Hanks

Crystal River Valley

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