‘Win-Winners’ of Crystal Valley trail are way off base

The recent “Win-Win Trail” letter to the editor was penned by several members of the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association (CVEPA) Board, including its president. The long-held “off highway stance” of many CVEPA members has garnered much suspicion. Added skepticism stems from the long standing CVEPA board position of Open Space and Trails (OST) Acquisition’s Director Dale Will. Will’s tenure with CVEPA matches his disconcerting agenda for trail development east of the Crystal River. It’s becoming increasingly clear that this association has a membership with political, not environmental, motive.

The “Win-Win” letter claims no present opportunity for “folks” to experience the Crystal River Valley in an effort to legitimize an environmentally insensitive trail alignment. To the contrary there are numerous campgrounds, parks, and endless trails. And citing user experience to develop trails through critical habitat sounds narcissistic when held against the impassioned voices of most individuals attending the recent Crystal Caucus meeting — one of the best attended in years due to the subject at hand.

A motion was overwhelmingly supported recommending that Pitkin County return to the drawing board and start over with a “no trail” option going forward. Additional motions passed included a request for further meetings between residents and county commissioners, keeping the trail out of wildlife habitat, no private property takings, and a more detailed reassessment of initial and ongoing costs. While the “Win-Winners” cite costs favoring an off-highway alignment, authentic environmental protection would not support denigration of habitat (think priceless) at any cost.

The “Win-Winners” bemoan an undesirable urban looking aesthetic should the trail follow the highway corridor. Only someone with no environmental sensibility would find a trail through intact habitat more aesthetically pleasing than a trail that competes with the wild beauty of a highway!

The “Win-Winners” refer to wildlife biologist Rick Thompson, not in deference to his conclusive scientific study of the Crystal Valley, but to say he concurs that there is already impact (private homes on private land) east of the Crystal. Well huh!! I don’t think that was part of the science, nor stated as more reason to invite the public into the yards of residents to increase impact and ruin lives in the process.

But … no matter, because the “Win-Winners” testify to “vast” areas for valley wildlife to relocate east of the B alignment. Is this the voices of environmental protection: “let’s just send our wildlife packing further east”?!

Lastly, the “Win-Winners” claim increased impacts of a highway aligned trail on the Crystal River. One thoughtful caucus member pointed out the lack of any studies that speak directly to ramifications of any trail alignment on the already suffering and degraded Crystal River. Let’s not pretend to know how trail development and or placement will affect the river until the necessary legwork has been completed — a process disturbingly overlooked to date. For the “Win-Winners” to pretend that they know anything about the effects of a highway alignment on the river is demanding their readers to lend them credibility as scientists. Not this reader!

Edie Engstrom