Preservation more important than Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail |

Preservation more important than Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail

I am responding to Scott Condon’s recent article on the “rift” between the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association (CVEPA) and Wilderness Workshop over the Crystal Valley trail, particularly since my name was mentioned (“Crystal Valley trail debate exposes rift among Carbondale-Redstone environmentalists,” Dec. 21, The Aspen Times).

Over the years, I have been on the boards of both organizations. I recently resigned my position on the CVEPA board, but not because the organization wouldn’t oppose the trail as was stated in the article. I resigned because of my perception that the board was strongly biased toward recreation at the expense of supporting wildlife and preserving native habitat. I avidly support the Carbondale to Crested Butte trail, but don’t want it built in sensitive wildlife habitat or migration corridors, especially when there are viable alternative routes. Certainly the valley has lost substantial wildlife habitat to transportation, housing and agricultural development. That is what makes the remaining habitat so important.

The article also mentioned the wildlife study commissioned by Wilderness Workshop, done in part to address some of the many shortcomings of the wildlife assessment conducted by Pitkin County’s consultants who contributed to the trail-planning effort. I applaud both studies, but the fact of the matter is that no consultant, regardless of who pays the bill, can make a comprehensive evaluation of wildlife or habitat issues after only a few days or even a few weeks of field work. The county should heed the comments of a string of state wildlife professionals who have spent decades in the valley studying our wildlife. All consistently oppose putting the trail in Janeway, Avalanche, the east side of Avalanche Narrows, Bear Gulch and other sensitive habitats.

As an ecologist who has lived in the Crystal Valley since 2006 and who has visited those places numerous times, I concur with those comments. We need to protect our wildlife.

John Emerick


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