Realtors for "roadlessness"
(This letter was originally addressed to the Roadless Areas Review Task Force.)Dear Editor:We, the undersigned members of Realtors for Wilderness, are writing to urge you to recommend reinstatement of protected status for all roadless areas on the White River National Forest, particularly those in the Roaring Fork drainage. Realtors for Wilderness was recently formed as a committee of the Aspen Board of Realtors to support efforts to preserve federal public lands on the White River NF. The Aspen Board of Realtors has 625 members from Aspen to Glenwood Springs.As you are probably well aware, the economies of most communities in and around the White River NF are based primarily on tourism, recreation and amenities, not on resource extraction.Protected roadless areas are an important factor in our prosperity. Indeed, roadlessness is an asset in increasingly short supply, and therefore increasingly valuable. Sadly, many visitors come to our communities precisely because they no longer are able to enjoy many things in their own hometowns that we take for granted, thanks to roadless areas, such as clean air and water, healthy wildlife and intact ecosystems.Of the many economic benefits of roadless areas, often overlooked is their immense contribution to the health and stability of local real estate markets.Last year, ABOR members sold over $2 billion of real estate in Pitkin County, Eagle County and Garfield County. Real estate has surpassed recreation and tourism as the No. 1 industry that drives the economic engine of Pitkin County.Much of the added value of real estate in our resort economy is a measure of the quality-of-life benefits of the absence of roads and development on public lands that surround our area. While it may not be possible to put an exact number on how much of that value is attributable to roadless areas, it’s safe to say that the loss of this amenity would have a serious negative effect on our real estate market and our whole local economy.Moreover, we are writing not only in defense of our industry, but also on behalf of our clients and potential clients – that is, everyone who owns property in the Roaring Fork Valley. They, like we ourselves, enjoy recreating in our local roadless areas; benefit from the clean air and water that come from these natural areas; appreciate the healthy wildlife habitat and ecosystems protected within these areas; and would like to be able to count on continued roadless-area protections to ensure the stability of their real property investments.In conclusion, we ask the task force to recommend that Gov. Owens fully protect all 84 of the White River National Forest’s inventoried roadless areas. We also ask the Task Force to include in its recommendation the full 1.1 million acres inventoried by citizen conservation groups, not merely the 640,000 acres inventoried by the Forest Service.Ed Foran and Realtors for Wilderness
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