Recreation versus wildlife | AspenTimes.com

Recreation versus wildlife

Dear Editor:

It is with all due respect that I submit this letter.

On behalf of Roaring Fork Audubon’s governing board and 300 local members, I’d like to submit these comments:

My husband has been a land-use consultant for many years in the Roaring Fork Valley, and he took many projects through the planning and approval process in Pitkin County. The project that I’d like to reference is the Wildcat Ranch project, 10 homesites on 6,500 acres, and it literally took years to get the approvals. During those meetings and the process the county required the developer to jump through hoops to protect the wildlife found on the ranch, which, well, they should have; I totally agree with this process. I’m not complaining about that process because all these years later, in my opinion, those requirements have made Wildcat Ranch the only real nature preserve in the valley.

My observation as a longtime resident of the valley is that there is a distinct double standard in effect now. If the local governmental entities, valleywide, want to “put a bike path” in one of the most pristine and valuable wildlife areas in the valley (I’m speaking about the Rock Bottom to Catherine Store section) suddenly, wildlife isn’t an issue. Recreation is suddenly the only game in town. Why does such a double standard exist in our valley now?

I urge the RFTA board to reconsider allowing access year-round with no closures to protect wildlife on this section of the trail. There are many areas in the valley where wildlife isn’t an issue, but that isn’t the case with the Rock Bottom section. Roaring Fork Audubon would like to urge the RFTA board to implement the recommendations submitted by Mary Harris and the constituents she represents.

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We create enough disturbances for birds by being in their habitat on paths and roads. We know what the problems are related to conserving our neotropical migrants. We should not, under any circumstances, make things worse for them by harassing them on their nesting grounds. There is no doubt these pressures displace wildlife.

I speak for the Roaring Fork Audubon board of directors as well as our 300 members. One of our goals is “keeping common birds common,” and the impacts on this trail makes that very difficult. This trail will displace many of our “common” birds.

Linda Vidal

Roaring Fork Audubon

Carbondale