Don’t expand into Pandoras |

Don’t expand into Pandoras

I would like to voice some concerns that I have regarding the proposed expansion into Pandoras on Aspen Mountain. The proposed area for development reaches into an old-growth forest rich in a diversity of species.

From my reading on the issue, it appears that pieces of the forest ecosystem are being considered for their value, separated from the whole and discussed out of context. The acreage of trees is a concern, but how can the removal of trees be considered without the rest of the ecosystem that depends on an intact forest? The ecosystem supports a number of species including squirrels, snowshoe hares, elk, deer, bear, mountain lions and possibly lynx — not to mention a variety of mushrooms, wildflowers and other plants. If we lose the trees, we lose the ecosystem.

I absolutely agree that Aspen is a ski town. Aspen Skiing Co. is an industry leader in protecting the climate and taking care of our natural environment. In my opinion, the best thing that our community can do to combat climate change and “Protect Our Winters” is to leave an old-growth forest intact. I propose that we choose to do less harm.

The reasons stated for the proposed expansion are less than convincing. In my opinion, the number of skiers on Aspen Mountain do not warrant this kind of development. It is a rare day that there is a lift line unless, of course, it is a powder day. If we build roads, ski runs, chairlifts and snow-making infrastructure, we will cause irreparable damage. If climate change is the issue, I say to protect the climate by keeping the forest intact.

At some point in the future there may be a need for this expansion, but I don’t think that time is now.

Let’s be a ski town of the highest integrity. Let’s keep the rural and remote designation and protect an old-growth forest. Once that area is developed we will never be able to recoup the rich ecosystem that currently exists, currently protected by the rural and remote zoning.

Let’s not lose the forest by focusing on the trees.

Julie Wille