Supporting Hidden Gems | AspenTimes.com

Supporting Hidden Gems

Dear Editor:

I am writing in support of the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal because our existing wilderness areas are a big part of our high quality of life here, which in turn helps make our economy as strong as it is. Plus, they protect much of our best hunting and fishing lands, and contribute in numerous other ways to our recreation-based economy.

I support the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal and I hope my county commissioners and congressional representatives do too.

Our existing wilderness areas (e.g., Maroon Bells-Snowmass, Eagles Nest, Holy Cross) are a big part of what makes our valley such an awesome place to live. Who isn’t glad we have them? The Hidden Gems proposal aims to enlarge these protected areas, and to create a few brand-new ones.

I’m so glad the previous generation had the foresight to set aside our existing wilderness areas. I hope we have the wisdom to enlarge that legacy for our children. A great way to learn about the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal is to go on one of the hikes being organized this summer by the campaign. It’s an opportunity to see some of the areas under consideration, led by experienced guides. To learn about the campaign and upcoming hikes go to http://www.whiteriverwild.org.

The Hidden Gems proposal has the bold vision of maintaining a significant portion of our backcountry in its natural, unfragmented state. It embodies the hope that we can continue to coexist with nature by voluntarily limiting our footprint on the land.

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The Hidden Gems proposal has the bold vision of maintaining a significant portion of our backcountry in its natural, unfragmented state. It embodies the hope that we can continue to coexist with nature by voluntarily limiting our footprint on the land.

It’s important to me to protect these areas, which are mainly at the middle elevations. They’re “hidden” because most of them are off the beaten track from the popular high-elevation areas. Biologically they’re “gems” because they preserve some of our richest wildlife habitat.

Designation under the Wilderness Act is the strongest, most lasting protection for wild landscapes and wildlife on public lands. Once designated, a wilderness area cannot be altered by administrative action or an executive order – only by another act of Congress.

The Hidden Gems are special places that deserve to be protected forever from the threats of road building, motorized vehicles, gas drilling and other extractive industries.

Our local population keeps growing, and the pressure on our backcountry keeps increasing. We need to set aside these last best unprotected places before they’re lost forever.

The Hidden Gems Campaign is proposing more 40 new wilderness areas and additions to existing wildernesses, including 12 in Pitkin County, eight in Gunnison County, 15 in Eagle County and seven in Summit County.

Wilderness serves as a spiritual or psychological haven from modern day pressures, produces clean water by protecting watersheds, improves air quality by acting as a filter for pollutants, provides critical habitat for wildlife and maintains biological diversity, protects the land and water for future generations, and supports the economy on a number of levels.

Darryl Gallegos

Eagle