Speaking for the elk | AspenTimes.com

Speaking for the elk

To: Editor

From: Michael Vanian, Glenwood Springs

Re: Bair Chase development

The Bair Chase development at the base of Cattle Creek has recently been reopened for public comment. Citizens have until the Dec. 12 to have their voices heard.

Many are aware that the Garfield County Commissioners had recently changed the zoning from a 230-home proposal to a high-density 979 homes called “Cattle Creek Crossing.” With 979 homes, there is no crossing Highway 82 for the elk, there is no space there left to graze.

I must speak for the elk. I have seen elk wintering in the Roaring Fork Valley since I was a boy. They are forced down to feed while snow blankets the high country. This 282-acre parcel of land is some of the last great open space on the valley floor. It also lies in the heart of their migration corridor.

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I propose maintaining the zoning at no more than 230 homes and creating an overpass over Highway 82, allowing the elk to cross without slamming into my daily commute. I also suggest as much open space as is economically possible by grouping development together and allowing the elk a place to feed. I recommend a “no dog” policy and a fence restriction on the units providing the elk open range. In an ideal world, we could do a land trade with the Bureau of Land Management and the Aspen Land Trust, protecting this parcel and developing a less sensitive, nonwinter grazing area.

Anyone who lives here realizes that elk are a major blessing on our valley, our lifestyle and our economy. If we do not act soon, it will be too late for them because there will be no open space left to protect. Quality of life here in the valley is changing rapidly, but for none so rapidly as our elk herds.