Aspen needs to walk the environmental walk
As a 40-year resident, the past 25 years as an instructor/guide, I have a special love and appreciation for this incredibly beautiful, one-of-a-kind area east of Aspen. Therefore, I don’t support the Pandora’s expansion into this critical wildlife area and elk migration corridor. Over 80% of area wildlife will relate or depend on the riparian zone along the upper Roaring Fork River during their lives.
We state that we highly value the environment in our Aspen Area Community Plan, including an Ecological Bill of Rights, but keep approving more construction and development including over 900 active construction sites in Aspen and the supersized under-housed Lift 1A project — the largest single project of our lifetime. Our infrastructure, including roadways and affordable housing, is overwhelmed. Employers are understaffed. We’re in crisis mode.
There’s no real need to open Pandora’s Box on “the big mountain” with all its nooks, crannies and glades. Aspen Mountain Powder Tours is an opportunity for the public to ski and ride the alluring side country terrain. Locals have enjoyed “Pandy’s” for decades hosting many visitors. With four amazing ski areas, we boast over 5,500 acres of in-bounds skiing including Snowmass, the third largest ski area in North America. We have no real lift lines.
We’ve expanded into Burnt Mountain and Highland Bowl. But, it’s never enough, even with an embarrassment of riches so widely acknowledged. Many believe that our people, rich history and small-town character is our advantage. Our environmental consciousness is also a competitive advantage. We’ve had the courage to say no to things that will harm the environment.
Is it wise to continue compromising our most protective zoning to allow more substantial development, increasing our carbon footprint? We did that to accommodate over 300,000 square feet of luxury development at 1A, which will harm the environment on every level. Dramatically changing zoning, which protects our pristine mountain environment, is a slippery slope.
The environment is the goose that lays the golden eggs. We are slowly, but surely cooking our goose. One just has to sit in growing local traffic in their car or drive around town and witness construction every other block.
Should it be all about expanding the skiing experience at all costs? How about replacing Gent’s Ridge chair with a high-speed quad to attract skiers to the east side of Ajax? Or skiing Highlands, Snowmass or Buttermilk, with plenty of room and runs for all abilities? We need to show through our actions that we truly give a flake about our environment.
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