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Save wildlife – support trails

Dear Editor: Suburban homeowners battling trail plan. Of the many serious threats to wildlife, global warming, invasive weeds, highways, oil and gas development, and suburban sprawl, each must rank high. However, bike trails do not come to mind as a big one. A visit to any national park demonstrates that humans (without armament) are surprisingly impotent, and wildlife soon becomes habituated to seeing them. Have you ever seen roadkill on a bike trail?I agree that we should all seek to reduce the human footprint on this valley. Toward that end, we should put houses in compact towns, rather scattering them randomly across the landscape. By living where they do, your homeowners have already chosen to value their lifestyles above the wildlife impacts of suburban sprawl. These are the last people with moral standing to attack the trail.I don’t know that the land across the river from Mr. Rudd’s house is the “last pristine river frontage from (Catherine Store) to Glenwood.” The bald eagles that fledged this year at Aspen Glen might disagree. What I do know is that it is one of the last public reaches of river in the lower valley. A friend who recently kayaked from Basalt to Glenwood told me he counted over 100 “Private Property; Keep Out” signs on the river. A different friend told me that he opposes the trail because he will lose privacy at his favorite skinny-dipping spot! Privacy, privatization, private. I suspect that is what this is all about. Public land must be defended from it.An actual threat is unleashed dogs, and my biggest concern is that RFTA presently lacks a mechanism to enforce their leash rule. Leash-law enforcement is indeed critical to protect not only wildlife, but also livestock, cyclists and the dogs themselves. RFTA should work with Eagle and Garfield counties to give its trail rules the force of law. It would be a relatively simple matter for these counties to empower RFTA’s staff to cite those who violate trail rules. RFTA should ensure this is done.The thing that will really save wildlife is for humans to learn how to function on solar and muscle power. Everything we can do to get people out of their cars will save wildlife here, in the arctic and the Amazon. Beauty is one of the things that will get people out of their cars. While other trail connections may also be needed across the river, I look forward to biking on the new trail as planned. Entering that section will be a welcome respite. Such beauty reminds us we have a planet that is worth saving.Dale WillCarbondale


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