Pros outweigh cons in Gems proposal
October 6, 2009
As a 44-year resident of the Roaring Fork valley and an avid outdoorsman, I want to share my thoughts on the Hidden Gems proposal. I have heard a lot of the opinions from folks who think they are having their recreational areas taken away from them if they are located in areas suggested for Wilderness. I do not believe this is the case. There are areas with more recreational traffic than others, but the Wilderness Workshop is willing to work with special-interest groups and has moved boundary lines of proposed areas to accommodate special interests.
I have also heard some feel that Wilderness designation of land in our area will hurt our economy. Not necessarily. I think you will lose some users in certain areas but gain others in different areas.
I am a skier, dirt biker, snowmobiler, rancher, mountain biker, horseback rider, backpacker and overall outdoor enthusiast, both self-propelled and motorized. I think all the special-interest groups can have their space to recreate or enjoy the outdoors as they please in our 2.2 million acre White River National Forest. Wilderness designation gives us all the opportunity to enjoy the landscape in different ways.
The downside of Wilderness designation in my mind is that it will put more recreational pressure on our National Forests, but it is a price I am willing to pay in order to protect and preserve certain areas in our valley for our children and future generations.
It is easy to be critical of other people’s recreation especially if it revolves around motorized vs. self propelled but the reality is conscientious, responsible motorists and non-motorists can all coexist. We all know examples of poor stewardship by both the motorized and non-motorized communities, but this represents the minority. Responsible recreation is an educational process.
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I encourage everyone to inform themselves about the Hidden Gems proposal and work with the campaign to smooth out issues. I believe it is a positive step for the future and it can be a win-win situation for everyone if we work together.