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Protect our wildlife

Dear Editor:

One of the issues RFTA seeks public comment on is that of increasing wildlife monitoring. This could be very beneficial to wildlife if RFTA would actually use the information gathered to benefit the wildlife.

RFTA’s Adaptive Wildlife Management Plan was theoretically designed specifically to accept such feedback and increase closures as necessary to protect wildlife. Thus far, RFTA has committed about $250,000 to wildlife monitoring and another $40,000 to vegetative screening to protect the heronry, and then chose not to accept the recommendations of the wildlife monitoring or even wait until their vegetative screening leafed out in the spring so that it might actually benefit the herons. All they need to do to realize the benefits of these expenses is to follow the advice of their wildlife biologist which is consistent with the recommendations of the Division Of Wildlife, the Audubon Society, and virtually every other expert involved and requires only that the trail remain closed an extra month for a year or two allowing the herons to habituate to the traffic.



Unfortunately, several RFTA board members become instant experts whenever the real experts’ advice fails to further their goal of year-round recreational use of this wildlife habitat. They try every sort of maneuvering to try to reverse their wildlife biologist’s recommendations and, failing miserably, still manage to come up with their own findings which somehow always favor recreation over wildlife.

At this last meeting, this group found “no compelling reason” to change wildlife closures. If the recommendations of all experts to increase closures, and the abandonment of our valley’s largest heronry aren’t compelling reasons for change, I’d like to know just what would constitute a compelling reason.




This same group also claimed that it couldn’t support “single-species management” ” another good example of why it should listen to the real experts. Any student of ecology knows there’s no such thing as single-species management because all aspects of ecosystems are so interrelated that the parts cannot be viewed independent of the whole. Even if this were a valid approach, it’s pretty obvious that this approach would be applied one species at a time until there were none left to worry about.

In reality, the Audubon Society has named many neo-tropical species which would benefit tremendously from increased closures. It might even help revive what had been the valley’s richest fawning grounds which were destroyed in the peak of birthing season when trail construction commenced in June several years ago. If you value our wildlife, let RFTA know by e-mailing trails@rfta.com.

In hopes that our nation’s environmental trickle-down is working faster than the economic trickle-down, you might also contact the state and federal EPA enforcers of the categorical exclusion used to implement this wildlife destruction and ask them to enforce the conditions of this document which have been largely ignored by RFTA. This includes CDOT’s Region 8 environmental coordinator ” tammie.smith@dot.state.co.us ” and her federal supervisor ” eva.ladow@fhwa.dot.gov.

Jim Duke

Carbondale


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