Letter: Preservation over profit

This letter is an invitation to all land-owners, citizens, and guests of the Roaring Fork Valley to consider the effect of the commoditization of our valley’s natural resources. While we have many assets (water, ski-mountains, rivers, national parks) that we commoditize for profit, none is more glaring and more detrimental than the commoditization of land. The Roaring Fork Valley has become a highly desirable place to live and a highly desirable place to profit in the sale of land. Real-estate prices are other-worldly compared to most of the rest of the country.

The greatest concern we should have as citizens is the purchase of large tracts of land to be developed either for commercial or residential development. The buyers of these properties place a value on the natural, undisturbed habitat for profit. Each acre of virgin land becomes a commodity with which to profit, squeeze out wildlife and forever alter the land. Few profit while the rest of us suffer the consequences of this unchecked profiteering and loss of natural habitat.

The midvalley is in the throes of a number of proposals that commoditize large tracts of land—most notably is the Tree Farm across from Willits. The initial proposal was for 400 housing units and 135,000 of commercial space. Fortunately the proposal did not pass as is. No doubt the developer will be back with a scaled down proposal. Once again, we will face the consequence of the loss of a beautiful piece of land in the midvalley.

The invitation to all who intend to profit from development is to reconsider preserving the land ad infinitum. Conservation easements guarantee the ongoing preservation of land. Ranchland can still be resold for a profit but it cannot be developed.

We need a new mindset in our valley from one of maximizing profit to one of land preservation to keep what is left of our natural habitat in place. Land was never intended for us to profit from at the expense of nature. Unfortunately, profiting from land is now the norm and not the exception that it should be. Let’s change this trend and start preserving instead of profiting.

Lisa Chiles