The Wilderness Workshop machine | AspenTimes.com

The Wilderness Workshop machine

Dear Editor:

Zack Hayes of Carbondale is just another indoctrinated product of our school system (“Take a hike, mountain bikers,” Oct. 4, 2010, letters to the editor, The Aspen Times). He should take some of his own advice and wake up!

Wilderness Workshop is absolutely responsible for polarizing user-groups and our communities. Wilderness Workshop had no intention of engaging the public. Rather, it chose to only reach out to potential supporters of their cause. Wilderness Workshop doesn’t care what the public thinks and would have gladly shoved the first draft down our throats without it being fully vetted. One would think, with all the academia in their camp, that one of them would have the decency to fully engage other user-groups in a systematic and inclusive manner.

Wilderness Workshop has been working on this for the past seven to 12 years (depending on who you talk to at the Wilderness Workshop), which is plenty of time to interact with all interested parties. Instead, they chose to go about it underhandedly, and deliberately submit the proposal to congressmen without real public support. If Wilderness Workshop were truly a grassroots organization, they would have the public’s best interest in mind, and would have fully vetted the proposal. Many of the issues could have been worked out without Wilderness Workshop walking all over everyone.

Wilderness Workshop is the farthest thing from a grassroots organization. Grassroots organizations typically do not have staff lawyers, paid employees, paid supporters and paid meeting attendees. Wilderness Workshop is a highly organized and highly funded environmental lobbyist group that pushes wilderness bills all over the United States.

Wilderness Workshop is not just a few hippies from Carbondale trying to save the world, as the group would like you to think.

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Pitkin County commissioners are a disgrace. They seem to be in bed with Wilderness Workshop and are ready to rubber-stamp the proposal while the public is not supportive. Pitkin County caters to all but the working-class citizens by holding public meetings with little more than a day’s notice in a local newspaper at times when nobody can make it. Pitkin County could learn a little something from Eagle County; hold a public meeting when the people can make it. Public officials need to pay attention to the people and not your personal interests.

I’m halfway behind Congressman Jared Polis’ bill. He, at least, listened to the public. That is something Wilderness Workshop is incapable of, or unwilling to do. For this they shall not be trusted or respected.

Finally, to all of you wilderness-only extremists, most of the opposition to this proposal is not against “wilderness” designation. We just don’t want it where it doesn’t belong. For instance, wilderness does not belong at the very edges of our towns, over existing roads and trails, in areas where people have been working and recreating for decades, or where the terrain doesn’t meet the “wilderness” standards. Also, most of us are against oil and gas development in many of these areas.

Most of us want land designations applied appropriately, logically and in a manner best for our communities. Wilderness is not our only option, as Wilderness Workshop would lead you to believe.

Joe Hiltquist

Rifle

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