Crystal Caucus supports Plan A for trail | AspenTimes.com

Crystal Caucus supports Plan A for trail

Crystal Caucus supports Plan A for trail

Our Crystal River Valley finds itself at a crossroads with the proposed Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail. Questions loom regarding changes to the character of our valley. What will be our legacy? Will we develop and commercialize our valley, or will we chose to conserve and restore its natural beauty?

Human population growth is inevitable. Crystal River Caucus members have contemplated this issue and responded with the Crystal River Master Plan, which specifies how we want to grow. The plan supports keeping natural areas natural and only supports development that maintains a healthy Crystal River, riparian habitat and wildlife, and the rural character of our valley. Our master plan does not support unsustainable development as represented by the Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail.

Development of the trail is well underway. Seemingly, the only choices left to our residents are whether to support a trail that follows the Highway 133 corridor (Plan A) or build through sensitive wildlife habitat with multiple bridges that crisscross and degrade the Crystal (Plan B).

Recently, the Caucus invited independent experts to provide perspective on the impact of Plan A compared to Plan B. These experts included a wildlife biologist, stream ecologist and planning engineer. All were of the opinion that Plan B, which proposes a trail through sensitive wildlife habitat, will contribute to the decline of wildlife and stream health.

Our Crystal Valley has thus far escaped the development that has come to characterize the Roaring Fork Valley. The choice for Crystal Valley residents is plain: Do we maintain the rural character of our valley, or do we give in to unbridled development of a playground that will undermine and destroy our rural character, inexorably leading to the urbanization of one of the last best places in Colorado?

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Our master plan states that: "Our Valley is first and foremost a place where preservation of the natural environment and the protection of our rural character are valued. As the rest of our state becomes increasingly urbanized, the Crystal River Valley is a place where the rural character should remain substantially unchanged."

The Caucus believes that this trail development will instigate a downward spiral that will irrevocably erode the rural character of our valley, leading to the urbanization that we've fought to prevent.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife' biologists and managers have consistently cautioned against developing a trail through wildlife habitat. These professionals advise that to conserve what remains of our native wildlife we must keep the trail out of remaining natural areas. Analysis from independent stream ecologists and biologists are unambiguous in their recommendations that to prevent further degradation of stream and riparian habitat we must keep the trail in the highway corridor.

Accordingly, the Crystal River Caucus has voted to support a trail alignment that is restricted to the highway corridor (Plan A) and oppose the draft trail plan proposed by the BOCC (Plan B).

Comments on the trail are due July 27. To comment please send your letters to the Pitkin County BOCC at charlotte.anderson@pitkincounty.com and to the OST Board at web_open_space@pitkincounty.com.

Crystal River Caucus Board

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