Printed letters, Jan. 6, 2010
I commend The Daily Sentinel for the research apparent in your eight-part “Energy Alley” series.
But the overall optimistic forecast for the extraction industry didn’t pay much mind to the known social, environmental, health and economic impacts inherent in an alley of this type.
I wonder how our cities, counties and state would brace for the boom-and-bust cycles historically connected with mining activities, or if anybody out there knows how to get rid of chemical and radioactive waste.
I also wonder if we can promote such an alley and still attract tourists with our blue skies, streams, rivers and wildlife – the very reasons many of us came to the Western Slope.
This spring, as I leaf through the pages of the Sentinel’s “Vacationland” special section, I will wonder if such a wondrous vacation land can coexist with an Energy Alley.
We are writing from the standpoint of the multi-user, as we are both active in our national forests as backcountry skiers, climbers, mountain and dirt bike riders and trail runners.
We don’t understand the purpose of the Hidden Gems Wilderness Proposal when there are already a travel management plans currently in process by the U.S. Forest Service in both the White River and Gunnison National Forests. These proposed travel management plans have been in process for several years and have been designed to assess how we best utilize and manage our forest lands with respect to wildlife, conservation, the environment and use within the forest. They take into account how we best manage the forests as our population grows and the popularity for all types of outdoor recreation expand.
Since 2002, the current White River Forest travel management plan has proposed 82,000 acres for closure to wilderness designation. The Hidden Gems campaign proposes a blanket closure of 400,000 acres without due process, which includes necessary environmental impact statements and public input from all user groups, not just a select few.
The White River National Forest does not support the Hidden Gems proposal. We simply cannot afford to lose more public lands to wilderness designation beyond what the Forest Service proposes. By reducing the variety of user groups to foot and horse traffic only, wilderness effectively eliminates the number of stewards advocating responsible use, augmenting the Forest Service with their time and effort.
We believe that every one of us who use our forest lands in any capacity want to see it protected and preserved for future generations. We want to continue to have the capacity to care for and protect these lands in conjunction with the Forest Service and to access them responsibly in our chosen modality — without exclusion, and with tolerance to all users.