Claudia Alexander: Beyond Hidden Gems
Candidate for Eagle County Commissioner
As candidate for Eagle County Commissioner, I absolutely oppose Hidden Gems and any further wilderness designations to our public lands. I love our wilderness lands in Colorado and in the other states I have visited throughout my fly fishing adventures across the US. My opposition to Hidden Gems is that Eagle, Summit, Gunnison and Pitkin County residents do not need a well-funded advocacy group telling us what we need, why we need it, and how much better our lives will be when they decide how much legislation and expanded limitations are best for us. We don’t need a wilderness advocacy movement agenda to form our decisions about the land in our backyards. These lands already belong to us as Americans and we the people of Eagle, Summit, Gunnison and Pitkin counties know how to take care of our property and our wilderness areas. Just ask the generations of ranchers and land owners.
Over the last four days I have researched the background, financing and legislation proposed by wilderness advocacy groups across this country and learned a great deal about the Hidden Gems proposal.
This proposal claims it is harmless with the promise the legislation will keep the federal land in our county pristine and untrammeled. The White River National Forest is 2,250,000 acres with 750,000 already designated as wilderness. Hidden Gems is proposing wilderness designation to a couple hundred thousand acres more in our backyard. The Wilderness Advocacy movement is hard at work across America appearing to be just local groups at work preserving federal lands. Hidden Gems isn’t just a home town wilderness group. It is a division of a national campaign using the law to add, define and control use of federal land.
Many of these Wilderness Campaigns are sponsored by The Pew Institute receiving its start from the Tides Center, a US non-profit organization which provides fiscal sponsorship for progressive groups including the Apollo Alliance, which according to Harry Reid, was credited with helping create the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as the stimulus bill). The Pew website, http://www.leaveitwild.org, is very informative. In 2009 their wilderness campaigns garnered legislation adding 2,315,000 acres of designated Wilderness. Currently the Pew Wilderness Campaigns have advocacy groups across the US seeking to work within the US congressional frame work to legislate an additional 12,602,000 acres as Wilderness and 104 river miles as Wild and Scenic. Hidden Gems is listed as one of their campaigns on this web site.
You can learn about other Wilderness bills introduced to Congress on http://www.govtrack.us. In the search block type in Wilderness and scroll down.
On May 28, the news reported and I confirmed online, that President Obama is considering locking up 13 million acres of federal land which supports a variety of commercial activities. Commercial activities create jobs and tax revenue for the states. However President Obama, using the Antiquities of Act of 1906, can turn federal land into National Monuments. That would effectively lock up the land from any kind of private use or development. So does Hidden Gems.
There is a Hidden Gems town meeting at CMC in Breckenridge Friday at noon. If you are as concerned as I am about this proposal, you must show up and speak up, don’t wait any longer for your voice to be heard. The consequences are too great and the cost to our community is too high.
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