Roman Kowalewicz: The Hidden Gems battle
I welcome the recent letters to Summit Daily News by Mr. Kunkle and Lien in regards to the Hidden Gems agenda. Most of the letters from organizers or supporters of this campaign constantly miss the point, use propaganda, scare tactics and demagogy.
Yes, this battle is based on philosophical grounds and it is also based on economical and historical facts. Let us dissect one more time what this battle is about:
1. Do we really fight for the lives of elk, deer, eagles, coyotes and all of God’s creatures? As we all know, 100 years ago, without motorized traffic in our forests, they were almost extinct. We simply killed most all of them. Change in human perception of our natural resources and smart government intervention prevented a disaster. Today we have herds bigger than ever, and somehow they learned how to hide from us.
2. The question is where do we have “ATV harmful activities?”
This is pure demagogy. Even if there was an incident of organized ATV activities that turn out to be irresponsible, shall we all be punished? We know from history that 10 were executed for one’s mistake, but we hope those days will never return.
Let me tell you about my personal observations. For the last 12 years I have gone hunting, scouted for mushrooms and enjoyed riding in my Jeep or on my ATV to Tenderfoot Mountain, Williams Peak Fork, Porcupine Gulch and many other areas of Summit County. Sometimes I am there, every other day on Tenderfoot Mountain and somehow I have never seen a hiker – never. I have seen a lot of wildlife but never a hiker. Where are you people, who wants to close these areas to me and my friends? Who is your 2-to-1 support? People that have never been there? People who never will, regardless on foot or in Jeeps? I see the same trucks there and the same people, and their numbers are diminishing over the years along with the numbers of camp sites – even during the hunting season. There are very few of us that enjoy this terrain, and over the last 12 years I have never seen any deterioration or any harmful activities there.
3. Well, let us say after years of our fight, the Supreme Court will allow you to close this and other terrain. Where will all of these people go? How about Deer Creek or Peru Creek? Not that many other areas are left in Summit County. Suddenly we will have a crisis and congestion and there will be another call for additional closures. In the last 12 years, we have had many roads closed in the Montezuma area. This is my question to my Congressman, Mr. Polis:
Who authorized these closures based on what laws? Quietly, somebody closed thousands of acres without any public input.
Let us prevent a domino effect today before it is too late.
4. We in Summit County depend on tourism. This is our economy, revenues, and way of life. Tourists come to enjoy the scenery, excitement and the freedom of activities and many of them on ATVs or Jeeps. How do you, people from Hidden Gems, intend to replace our loss of income, taxes and revenues? Are we really invaded by” aggressive harassing motorized invaders” like Mr. Sustrich is saying? Or maybe these “invaders” saved six out of seven elks he missed on his recent hunts? Well, when I hunt, I hate those noisy bikers on Tenderfoot Mountain, but at the same time I respect their right to be with me in the same place. Their freedom is as important as mine, and I will fight as hard for them as for myself. We have a proof just last year, how mighty freedom fighters may be when a poorly prepared initiative to close the cemetery area in Dillon to bikers collapsed under heavy public pressure.
5. Nobody wants to develop anything in these mountains, and I’ll be the first to oppose any such plans if proposed. One more time, this is a fight for freedom and liberties of few of people that see government intrusion into our lives and daily activities as a threat to the philosophy of founders of our republic. You, the self-proclaimed majority, should fight for these rights in the name of democracy. Maybe the future will show a need for some restrictions, maybe technology will develop gadgets that will threaten the surrounding nature, but today I want to leave to my son the way of life I enjoy.
I regret I cannot participate in Friday’s meeting, due to other obligations, but together with my friends, we will pray that this initiative is put aside for the time being.
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