I am angered by articles and letters from Pitkin County Open Space and Trails board members and staff encouraging increased human traffic in wildlife sensitive areas on the Lion’s Mane and Nettle Creek areas on the west flanks of Mount Sopris. This is an area where the Colorado Division of Wildlife wants to minimize public use, and where the Forest Service recently closed the only recognized existing trail. This was done because, contrary to Hawk Greenway’s assertions, the area is critical big horn sheep habitat. It is also the town of Carbondale’s municipal watershed, and is proposed for addition to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The actions of the open space and trails officials runs directly counter to the plans, decisions and wishes of the professional agencies we have entrusted with managing the land and wildlife on it.
The current attitude of the open space and trails seems to be that trails should be put everywhere on our public lands. Build, baby, build.
The attitude prevails despite repeated warnings from the Colorado Division of Wildlife that there are areas where wildlife simply needs to be left alone. In 2010, Pitkin County proposed a new trail into the Lion’s Mane and Nettle Creek areas, only to have the plan roundly criticized by CDOW and ridiculed in an open public meeting in Carbondale. It was withdrawn. Now, they’re coming back with the same thing from a slightly different starting point, and hoping we won’t remember. They seem answerable to no one.
I have been an active environmentalist in Pitkin County for over 50 years. I was an early supporter of open space and trails. However, with the current actions of the open space and trails director and board members, creating illegal trails and encouraging mountain bikers to do the same, I have lost faith in open space and trails.
Your June 14 editorial makes clear that you are opposed to the land exchange. I — and the local mountain bike organization — feel that the exchange is a good deal for the public. The Suttey Ranch, and the surrounding public land, is much more suited to recreational use.
Open space and trails attacking anyone who disagrees with them will not work. The exchange is a good deal for the entire Roaring Fork Valley.