Speak up for Gems | AspenTimes.com

Speak up for Gems

Dear Editor:

Last summer I was hired by the Hidden Gems campaign to help inventory many of the lands in the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal. For three-and-a-half months I hiked, biked, and drove the trails in and adjacent to the proposed Wilderness areas.

The main purpose of my work was to make sure the proposal didn’t include any popular roads, motorized routes or bike trails. I was awestruck by how wild some of the areas just outside our back door are. I crossed paths with bears and mountain lions and discovered new views of old mountains.

For the past year, as the Hidden Gems proposal has been adjusted and refined more than 150 times, the door has been open, a seat at the table has been available. As a result of dozens of meetings between Hidden Gems staff and outfitters, land and wildlife agencies, mountain bikers, ranchers, snowmobilers, ATV users, dirt-bikers, jeep clubs, local governments, firefighters, water utilities and private citizens, the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal is truly a citizens Wilderness proposal.

Congressman Jared Polis has continued the public outreach process – soliciting e-mails and phone calls, mailing out a survey, and offering open office hours. This public outreach process continues with a public meeting in Edwards on June 3.

If you care about protecting clean water, rare wildlife habitat and special places where solitude and peace can still be found, please come to the meeting on June 3 at Battle Mountain High School auditorium, 151 Miller Ranch Road, Edwards. The doors open at 4:30 p.m., but you might want to get there earlier to make sure you get a seat.

The opportunity to designate new wilderness only comes along once in a generation. This is the most important thing you can do to help create a new wilderness legacy, for our communities, our treasured lands and our children.

More details about the meetings are available at http://www.whiteriverwild.org or by calling (970) 963-3977.

Will Roush