A March headline in the Aspen Times read: “Not everyone has a plan for Redstone McClure County.” As executive director of one of the non-signing groups, Wild Workshop, I would like to share more about why we oppose this proposal. Our objections and concerns concern the planning and development of new roads.
In mid-March, the Wilderness Workshop debated a draft decision notice and final environmental assessment, proposing a 7-mile route linking Redstone and McClure Pass (part of the Valley Trail Crystal and also the Crested Butte Trail from Carbondale).
Proposed by Pitkin County (where the road would be built and maintained), the proposed 5-mile trail within the White River National Forest prompted consideration of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). . As the final part of this process, the objection allows individuals and organizations to request the U.S. Forest Service to make changes to the draft decision. The entire rebuttal and 30 other rebuttals can be found online in the project’s facility/public comments room.
The rapid growth of recreational use and development is one of the most significant impacts on wildlife and one of the biggest challenges facing local land managers. . According to USFS own data, White River National Forest is the most visited national forest in the country
other national forests.
Wilderness Workshop supports the sustainable recreational use of our public spaces, including in some cases the development of new recreational experiences. Pitkin County’s plan includes a number of measures to protect wildlife, such as paying rangers, habitat restoration projects, and protecting bighorn sheep. Additionally, the USFS decision on this stretch includes a seasonal closure to protect large predator habitat during winter.
At the same time, we are increasingly concerned about the impact of recreation and other human development activities on wildlife and public lands. All new roads in Crystal River Valley or elsewhere must be designed to minimize impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. A single trail or recreational experience can’t be blamed for reducing wildlife populations, but overall, the trail system and recreational use are certainly effective.
In proposing the new trail, USFS officials discussed the possibility of developing a comprehensive plan for the Crystal River Valley and carefully analyzing the impacts not only on the seven kilometers of trail but also dozens of another mile. The trail is part of an 83-mile road from Carbonale to Crest Butte, but USFS has omitted this broader plan and other proposed recreational development, including user-friendly roads. illegal creation and their effects.
While we disagree, USFS must fully analyze and plan for restoration impacts across the Crystal River Valley and from Carbondale to the Crested Butte Trail. The other columns do not need to be edited until complete.
But the agency only looks at a partial footprint, without a comprehensive plan that considers restoration recommendations against the ecological integrity and capacity of the forest. The agency’s cumulative impact analysis is to determine the extent to which the Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail proposal and other restoration proposals will change the Crystal River Valley and the Trail Corridor. But the EIA failed to do this, continuing its practice of piecemeal environmental destruction, costing our wildlife and wilderness thousands of deforestation.
Whatever happens with this particular project, Wilderness Workshop will continue to take a holistic approach to the Crystal River Valley and any new recreation on our public lands. We believe it is necessary and beneficial for both people and people in this special place we call home.
We’re an organization committed to protecting wild lands – sometimes that means taking positions not everyone agrees on and putting wildlife needs above wildlife development. mind. But we also believe that state land managers and local communities can work together to plan comprehensively and deliberately.
Will Roush is the CEO of Wilderness Workshop, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting wilderness, water, and wildlife on public lands in western Colorado. When Will, his wife Margaret, and their two children are away for work, they spend a lot of time hanging out.