The Hidden Gems’ land grab | AspenTimes.com

The Hidden Gems’ land grab

Dear Editor:

My family settled in Delta in the late 1800s. Many generations of my family have been able to experience the National Forest. Some hiking, some biking, some horseback riding, some snowmobiling, some four wheeling, some fishing and some hunting. We have helped create the walking/biking trail from Difficult Campground to Glenwood Springs, which all of our valley residents benefit from.

The Hidden Gems proposal is an attempt to limit access to land that I have personally enjoyed in the valley for 30-plus years. We have 750,000 acres of Wilderness in the White River National Forest, or 33 percent. The average for the lower 48 is 2-3 percent. If we already have at least 1,100 percent more than that amount locally, why does Hidden Gems believe it is necessary for us to remove another 400,000 acres from use other than foot traffic? This seems to be a case of “we want it our way” and any “other way” is bad.

Enough is enough! If you use the National Forest other than on foot, be warned that this is only their first step in trying to close more of the land that you have enjoyed for decades. The time is now to let your city councils, county commissioners and state representatives know that you do not support this attempted land grab. I encourage all forest lovers to join together in an effort to see how we can enjoy the beauty we have … instead of trying to prevent some people from enjoying what they have had access to for over 100 years.

Are there some areas that warrant Wilderness designation … yes! I encourage all bikers, four wheelers, hunters and snowmobilers to join together to oppose the Hidden Gems proposal. Their plan is permanent!

All parties should sit down with one another, instead of one special interest group trying to dictate the future uses, for all of us.

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Ari B. Chaney

Basalt