Letter: Who are you, Keep Routt Wild?
Keep Routt Wild’s inane opposition to the trail network addressed by Routt County Riders (RCR) in their letter on September 18th in the Pilot frustrates me, and I’m sure many others. What baffles me is how no one is shining any light on KRW.
You may have seen KRW front and center at the farmer’s market ginning up opposition to Mad Rabbit by waving around a study about elk. This study, conducted by KRW, provides their justification for killing Mad Rabbit, but it rubs me the wrong way. Human activity and the expanding human population impact elk. However, the only accountable party seems to be the U.S. Forest Service and RCR, and the only solution seems to be killing the Mad Rabbit trail network. Such a single-sided solution makes me suspicious of KRW’s motivations.
What if KRW is not an environmental advocacy organization but instead a thinly veiled hunting advocacy organization led by an exclusive club of hunters? KRW likes to focus on the impact of hikers, mountain bikers, and ATVs and rarely mentions the impact of hunting in the concerned areas, making clear their priorities. Just last fall, my wife and I were stopped behind a pickup truck on Buff Pass while a hunter shot at an elk from their passenger seat window.
The Steamboat area faces a tremendous amount of hunting pressure. Huntscore.com gives Game Management Units 14 and 214 (the areas directly east and west of Steamboat, respectively) the worst possible score for hunter density (1/100). There are too many hunters, and elk harvests have been dropping since 1990, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
If this is about elk, let’s talk about supporting elk populations holistically. If this is about fair use, let’s find a way to thread the needle together. But this isn’t any of that. If it were, shouldn’t KRW be decrying the impact of the ski resort, the golf courses, the incredible mountain manors, expansive private ranches, sheep grazing, climate change, whatever is happening with Stagecoach, ATVs, RVs, and, certainly not least, hunting? Instead, KRW’s website focuses exclusively on stopping Mad Rabbit and diversifies its portfolio with two other areas of concern: noxious weeds and bear awareness. KRW should have come to the table in the spirit of collaboration and not domination. Killing Mad Rabbit only serves to block the ingress of other land users and preserve nearly exclusive control and access to an already extensively hunted region.
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