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Letter from John Fielder
This letter appeared in the CB News and is reprinted here by permission of John Fielder. (12/21/09)
December 21, 2009

To whom it may concern:

RE: U.S. Forest Service’s decision not to pursue a NEPA study about expanding Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski operations onto Snodgrass Mountain

I’ve been visiting Crested Butte since 1969. Its human community matches the integrity of its biological community. Nowhere else in Colorado do plants grow as tall and fecund as they do around the edges of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, and nowhere else have community residents held in such high esteem natural values and worked so thoughtfully to protect biodiversity from the pressures of resort development. These people have shaped a place like no other in Colorado by maintaining a delicate balance between preserving nature and allowing people to enjoy it.

The expansion of the ski area onto Snodgrass Mountain will upset that balance for reasons already acknowledged by the Forest Service….construction on unstable soils, avalanche safety concerns, and recreational use changed from only human powered hiking, biking, and backcountry skiing to its opposite. I lobby also for the aesthetic values: the loss of viewsheds of horse herds grazing below the mountain, and fields of yellow mules ear and purple penstemon wildflowers, as thick as any I’ve seen in the state.

And we must not forget that the surrender of these values to commercial development paves the way for handicapping a victory in Crested Butte’s next big battle: molybedenum mining on Mount Emmons. The community succeeded for several decades holding that immense threat at bay. Commercializing this place with more chairlifts is the foundation for building mines on the edge of town.

Expansion of the ski area must be stopped in its bulldozer tracks. We must not allow Colorado’s last bastion of common sense development, Crested Butte, to lose the remarkable quality of life it has worked for 35 years to create and protect.

John Fielder
Nature Photographer
Silverthorne, Colorado

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