JoAnn Baker Paul: Steamboat’s living environment is priceless |

JoAnn Baker Paul: Steamboat’s living environment is priceless

Beloved Steamboat — have you forgotten who you really are? Have you forgotten your primal soul — the origin of this magical natural place that drew so many of us here to begin with? A wildlife and wilderness habitat sanctuary before all else?

Do you, as a community albeit full of many new residents, have the capacity to awaken to the wisdom of our ancestry? To remembering that every animal, plant, creek, insect, bird, mountain, rock, tree and river is a unique soul gift and teaching, relevant to the whole — and our survival as a species in this particular place? That nothing — even mosquitoes — is separate from the whole nor can be taken for granted?

Can we surrender our false human hierarchy and limit our superficial insatiable desires to instead mindfully preserve the vital source of our local habitat economic growth must protect our priceless living environment — the reason we are here.

We are currently walking the razor’s edge with the proposed aggressive sports expansion — the antithesis of silence and stillness — in our National Forest. When will enough be too much? I believe we are there now.

Why? We are not adequately caring for that which we already have in place. Numerous physical and managerial issues are present within many existing trail systems; the physical effects expand far beyond the trails themselves.

Emerald Mountain is a prime example. Ask the Stanko ranchers and their neighbors. In Routt National Forest, we have an established primary hiking and biking antithesis, biker-created trails at Mad Creek, serious parking issues in the lower Bear/Hot Springs area, all indicating a clear present priority — the need for regulation and enforcement before any new expansion of trails.

Renovating and possible expansion of human services and restoring existing campgrounds on Rabbit Ears Pass should be addressed at this stage also. The Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife need our support immediately to adequately manage and protect what we already have in place — again before any new trails are built.

Once these responsibilities are met and results are measured, new data will inform us. Any expansion must be slow and always mindful of what fundamentally takes precedence: wildlife, wilderness first.

JoAnn Baker Paul

Steamboat Springs

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