Letter: Mad Rabbit project comes with concerns
I am writing today to express my opposition to the current Mad Rabbit trail proposal.
We do not need to attract 180,000 more tourists to Steamboat, not when we are already pushing our town’s infrastructure with regards to housing, services and staffing. I have concerns that the proposal is poorly planned: using a decades-old, out-of-date forest map; the violations of the Colorado Roadless Rule and lack of Environmental Impact Statement; lack of seasonal closure and impact on local wildlife, especially elk herds and calving grounds; and there does not seem to have been a lot of exploring alternatives in planning trails with wildlife in mind.
Growth will happen, but it should be done in a thoughtful, deliberate, science-based manner. Keep Routt Wild has offered a compromise proposal that involves revising the stated purpose of the trails, a phased implementation of a modified plan, and the request for a long-range comprehensive trails and recreation planning effort with regard to Forest Service lands.
There are plenty of places to recreate and mountain bike around Steamboat. In fact, the International Mountain Biking Association has clearly identified the major trail needs as more beginner trails close to town; none of the recommendations they have made to improve mountain biking in Routt county would benefit from the Mad Rabbit trail development. (To go back to housing, infrastructure and service needs in Steamboat, one of the other key improvements would involve a shuttle service; drivers are already hard to find.)
Growing up in Alaska, I watched as man carved away at Nature for both recreation and profit. I have seen what happens when an intrusive footprint is placed with less care than it perhaps ought to be. Once an impact is made, it is awfully difficult to undo.
We can either choose to work with nature or we can try to impose our will upon it, and the Steamboat I want to live in more closely resembles the former than the latter. Let growth be planned with conscious precision, built to include the character of our land and all its inhabitants — not just the two-legged ones.
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