(This letter was originally addressed to Jim Stark, winter sports administrator at White River National Forest.)
I am one of the former Burnt Mountain rangers and so am disappointed in what has happened on Burnt Mountain. Aspen Skiing Co. customers got side-country skiing while some of us locals lost a treasure. The quiet beauty and solitude, the late afternoon light slanting through aspens and pines, the puffs of snow shimmering in the sunlight as it falls off tree branches in a light breeze. Or, the magic silence of a snowy day up there. These experiences are lessened now with hooting and hollering and the noise of scraping skis and boards over moguls and hard-packed terrain, which were never encountered in years past. I understand how people can claim that many people benefit from a side-country experience — a suggestion of a wilderness experience. But before the SkiCo disturbed it, Burnt Mountain was more a real wilderness experience, and yet close to civilization. An accessible “pocket wilderness” as one commenter called it. There was a mix of adventure, beauty and smooth, untracked riding.
Can you please do everything you can to keep Burnt Mountain roadless? Human incursions into wilderness or wild areas are taking place everywhere you look, and I am sorry to see fragmentation and wilderness values diminishing. Should a person like me just give up on trying to preserve wilderness or wilderness-like values? Should SkiCo customers have their pleasant wilderness-like experience without having to work a little bit for it (which would give them a more authentic sense of what wilderness is really like)? Can’t they have an enjoyable run on Burnt Mountain without having a manicured way out? Keep the black diamond designation on SkiCo maps and signs.
I say “no road” in this roadless area. Can the egress not be so wide and not so long and without so many trees cut down? Yes, the egress can be left much the way it is. The SkiCo customers can now have the taste of the paradise back there. This has already been accomplished. Now, enough, leave it alone. Don’t spoil the roadless quality. Keep the dense trees and all the unique aesthetic qualities that go with stands of dense trees. There is still a nice mix of treed areas and open parks on the mountain. But, no more logging. A road as described in the proposal would ruin the character of this gem, this marvel of relatively undisturbed nature, the fabulous Burnt Mountain.