Wedding bells at Maroon Bells amphitheater sound sour note
Sorry, but we don’t like the idea of weddings at Maroon Lake.We can understand why people from far and wide would want to tie the knot with that glorious mountain backdrop; virtually every Aspenite has enjoyed memorable days, perhaps even proposed to their sweeties, on or near those peaks.But we just can’t get used to the idea of renting the small amphitheater, which was intended for nature talks, for special events. Some might argue that a wedding is a sacred ceremony worthy of such hallowed ground, but these are different kinds of sacred.The Maroon Bells Scenic Area, despite all the recently added “visitor amenities” at the site, is a natural sanctuary – not a Grange hall, ballroom, hotel garden or even a church. And once you start renting this sanctuary for special events, it’s unclear where it ends.To its credit, the U.S. Forest Service, which administers the area, has taken some care with this decision. As it stands now, there is a limit of 100 people per event, and while weddings are allowed, receptions are not. But there’s nothing to stop officials from loosening those restrictions, especially given the agency’s current love affair with privatization.We understand that this new revenue-generating move is an outgrowth of cuts in the Forest Service budget. These new rental fees, like those collected at the entry gate on Maroon Creek Road, are supposed to make up for money no longer coming from Congress.It’s a shame that the Forest Service, as one local observer put it, has been reduced to holding “bake sales” in order to manage public lands. Still, we cannot support wedding bells at the Bells; as federal land managers would say, it’s an “incompatible use.”
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