Don’t let vitriol take over trail debate | AspenTimes.com

Don’t let vitriol take over trail debate

I am writing to express my thoughts surrounding the proposed Crystal Valley bike trail. Those resistant to the trail have demonstrated an admirable dedication to the valley environment and wildlife. Alternatively, the enthusiasm for the trail has confirmed this community's appreciation for health and the outdoors.

We are in a national climate of extreme divisiveness. I fear that the opinions surrounding the bike trail are heading in a similarly dangerous direction. It is my hope that this community can instead foster solutions and create something we can all be proud of.

I support the overall idea of a bike path. It challenges people to rethink transportation and to connect with the outdoors. It also encourages mental and physical health. My concern is that all variables are not being accounted for when it comes to choosing a final alignment of this trail and that we could end up with something that is detrimental to this valley and all that it represents. The practicality and purpose of this trail needs further thought before obligations are made.

The desire for an off-highway trail is understandable; however, wildlife concerns in many areas may well supersede user experience. Trail usage in habitat areas would be limited by seasonal closures and would be open for only four months per year, while a highway alignment would allow for many additional months of usage. The additional construction costs would be rewarded by a more sustainable solution that respects the voices of protection as well as the wildlife. Aligning the trail along the highway and around these habitats removes a large portion of the controversy with this project.

We can respect our diverse opinions and celebrate those we share. One topic we can all agree on is that we love this valley and the balance it offers of lifestyle and nature. People travel here from all around the world just to experience what we hold dearest. Our environmental expressions and actions define our culture. Developing a trail through wildlife habitat does not hold true to the integrity of our community. Stay strong in your beliefs and express your opinion on pitkinostprojects.com by Nov. 15.

Jay Engstrom

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