Not true conservationists

Dear Editor,

I don’t usually write letters about local issues, preferring to focus on areas of concern to Americans in general and letting “long-time locals” handle the concerns of our community. So, though I’ve been following the letters by the Dukes regarding their opposition to the section of trail being built from Catherine Store to Hooks Lane, and though I’m a frequent trail user and avid supporter of the rails to trails system, I’ve stayed out of the argument. But their daughter Emma Duke’s letter in the Aspen Times on Saturday (Letters to the Editor, Sept. 9) was the last straw.

While Emma was lucky to grow up near enough to Crown Mountain to enjoy backyard nature hikes, she and her parents would like to deny the rest of us access to the area, citing concern for the animals, which apparently were not disturbed by the building of the Duke’s house or the roads they use to get to the stores where they shop, which were also built on top of wilderness land that once harbored a multitude of critters.

Following her parents’ example, young Emma seems able to ignore the fact that her and her parents and friends trekking up to “observe” the wildlife and “bush jumping” down the mountain, probably disturbed more animals than the people riding or walking by on the paved path ever will. So much for her father’s “fear about this trespassing into natural habitats.”

Newsflash: There are hundreds of acres of pristine wilderness and a lot of animals to observe just beyond the city limits. It may not be as convenient as their own back yard, but this self proclaimed “family full of environmentalists” can certainly still enjoy “bush jumping” in the back country if they so desire.

Ms. Duke claims that her family’s opposition to the trail is not a case of NIMBYism, yet I don’t recall them writing letters about other areas of the valley where development might have impacted wildlife. Where were they when the Glenwood Meadows shopping area was constructed, or when 300 acres of winter elk habitat along Highway 82 south of Glenwood was bulldozed for development? I haven’t seen one letter from the Dukes against drilling on the Roan Plateau, surely one of the largest and most pristine wildlife habitats in this region.

Following their own logic, if the Dukes care so much about wild animals, and truly advocate for restoring and preserving natural areas, they should have their house razed and return their land to nature. Otherwise, save your hypocrisy for the rest of the pseudo-preservationists and let those who are elderly, disabled, pushing strollers, riding or walking with young children, commuting to work or just wanting a long traffic free bike ride, have the opportunity to form some cherished memories of their own on this treasured land.

Sue Gray