Supporting the Gems | AspenTimes.com

Supporting the Gems

Dear Editor:

In case you are not aware there is a campaign under way called the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign. Nothing much hidden about it, actually; it has been in the works for a while, and you can simply enter Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign on your computer and it basically explains everything. It is a plan to protect our fabulous Colorado treasures from further explorations of misuse through the multiuse program for federal lands. Its aim is to protect these lands from drilling, mining, timbering and possible development.

The hidden gems are these lands, and there is nothing hidden about them. In the last week of the Bush administration it became very obvious, when they opened thousands of acres of federal lands for exploration bidding in several states including Colorado, that our lands needed protecting. Some treasurers were lost, and it is no surprise that with a more friendly administration the opportunity is now.

Only under Wilderness-designated protection will these lands ever be guaranteed immunity from devastation. No doubt these efforts will be met with much resistance because the opposition has plenty of money and have become very efficient in spreading fear, arousing opposition with misinformation and confusion. They have already aroused many who have been told that it will stop all access to these areas for those using motor vehicles, mountain bikes or four wheelers. This is simply not true, and the general map of the overall areas only shows where the areas will cover.

If you check them out at http://www.whiteriverwild.org you will find site maps for all the sections for existing Wilderness as well as future Wilderness proposals. Because it is a fact that no motorized or wheeled vehicles can enter into Wilderness much study and work with organizations that support these activities has been done.

The results are that, in fact, the majority of unique mountain bike trails that now skirt existing Wilderness and would enter into the proposed Wilderness will still remain, but only as federal land and not part of the Wilderness. The same goes for current major existing roads in these areas, which are currently the only access routes. Basic access that now exists will remain but illegal trails that have been created will not. Some areas that will convert to Wilderness will deny snowmobile use where they may have been allowed before. Hunters will still have access to many campsites but will be limited to the use of four wheelers and game carts in Wilderness areas.

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The campaign is still working with groups to assure these lands are protected for future generations, as well as remaining accessible for those who appreciate these beautiful areas. Some who oppose this protection call it a land grab. I don’t know: What do they call it when it is auctioned off to the highest bidder?

Jim Childers

New Castle

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