Scouts doomed by ‘inflexibility’ | AspenTimes.com

Scouts doomed by ‘inflexibility’

The inflexibility of the Boy Scouts doomed their chance to get a camp approved in the upper Fryingpan River Valley.

In a letter released yesterday, the U.S. Forest Service disclosed details of why it rejected a proposal by the Boy Scouts for a camp to serve up to 200 people per week.

Sopris District Ranger Bill Westbrook wrote in the letter that the need for the camp in the Fryingpan wasn’t properly established by the Western Colorado Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

“Because the Western Colorado Council of Scouts owns land on the Western Slope suitable for a camp, the ‘need’ for locating this camp on National Forest lands was not warranted,” Westbrook wrote.

The Western Colorado Council of the Boy Scouts owns the 160-acre O.E. Greager property near Norwood. It operated camps there but leaders said it was inaccessible for many of its troops and that it needed extensive renovations.

In addition to the issue of need, Westbrook indicated that the proposal wasn’t flexible enough.

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“The numbers of proposed Scouts for the site and the associated facilities to meet their needs were non-negotiable, which limited the Forest Service from developing a range of alternatives to address the issues raised during scoping,” Westbrook’s letter said.

The Forest Service typically identifies several options or alternatives it can take in its decision-making process. The inflexibility by the Scout leaders put the agency on the spot for simply saying “yes” or “no” to the proposal.

The Western Colorado Council of the Scouts wanted to establish their summer camp at the Fryingpan River Ranch, about 35 miles east of Basalt. The buildings on the ranch are owned by John L. Morris, but about 26 acres of land are rented from the Forest Service.

Morris hasn’t operated the historic guest ranch on the property since 1997. He offered to turn the lease over to the Boy Scouts for a summer camp if the Forest Service approved the idea.

Scout leaders will no longer discuss the issue, but in an earlier interview, Kurt Adam of Aspen, a spokesman for the Scouts, said the proposed level of use was needed to pay operation costs.

“There is no sugar daddy out there to cover our losses,” he said. “If the Forest Service says no to [the proposal] it will hurt, but I’ll abide by it.”

The proposal spurred objections from hundreds of full- and part-time Fryingpan Valley residents during the Forest Service’s public scoping period.

Westbrook’s letter was mailed yesterday to hundreds of people who commented or wrote letters about the proposal.

Westbrook said Scouting leaders didn’t indicate to him that they will amend their proposal. He said he will work with Morris this spring on his options for the property.

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