Take a hike, Scott | AspenTimes.com

Take a hike, Scott

In stark contrast with his jovial tone during his 90-minute whirlwind session with voters at Rifle’s City Hall Thursday, May 30, Congressman McInnis’ comments directed at environmental advocates and organizations were mean-spirited and undeserved.

To wit: “Their ultimate goal is to eliminate multiple use (of public lands),” he said, basting environmentalists for supporting ranchers that do not use their grazing permits. And of the Sierra Club: “Don’t send them any money when they come knocking at your door.”

Lighten up, Congressman. Why be so vindictive against those who legitimately dare to question your policies? Just because some of us disagree with you on some issues does not mean that all of us oppose you on all.

It is a fact that many of us (yes, there are many thousands of conservation supporters among your constituents) are disillusioned with your minimalist “token” 7,000-acre wilderness proposal for the Deep Creek area on the Flattops and with your apparent unwillingness to come to a reasonable compromise on granting real wilderness protection to that area. To some of us it appears to be more about politics than conservation.

I take specific exception to your summary dismissal of the Roan Plateau as already having been designated for energy exploration and development. After having been designated as the Naval Oil Shale Reserve during the ill-fated oil shale boom of the ’80s, the Roan Plateau was officially transferred to the jurisdiction of the BLM in 1997 with a specific mandate to develop a plan covering all possible uses, including wilderness protection, recreation and grazing, as well as potential oil and gas development.

Based on the Roan Plateau’s outstanding and unique wilderness qualities, a detailed and thorough Citizen’s Wilderness Proposal was developed over the past three years which would cover about 38,000 acres of a total area of 73,000 acres.

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To date, the BLM has agreed that most of this proposal does indeed deserve wilderness consideration. I would like to emphasize that this proposal was developed not by outsiders, but by in-state citizens reflecting varying interests, recreation, hunting and fishing, ranching and wilderness.

The Roan Plateau does not need to become a divisive issue, pitting “environmentalists” against “big oil and gas.” On the contrary, there is an openness and willingness for constructive debate and cooperation across the spectrum of interest groups.

In a letter to the editor of the Glenwood Post-Independent of May 31, a leading industry expert recognizes the outstanding wilderness qualities of the Roan Plateau and outlines thoughts for limited oil and gas development while preserving this land’s pristine qualities. I also refer to Bernie Boettcher’s excellent column on the Roan Plateau in the Post-Independent of May 9.

Congressman McInnes, I encourage you and your staff to visit, hike, bike this spectacular area during the upcoming summer recess of the Congress. No doubt it will be an enjoyable reprieve from Washington.

Many of us would like to accompany them on such a foray and then have an open discussion on a balanced use plan.

Gerry Vanderbeek

Glenwood Springs