Letter to the editor: Should property owners share the wild or keep it to themselves?

Christopher Milton

Summit County attracts people from a variety of places and backgrounds, who are drawn to live and work immersed in wilderness. We must make it easy for everyone to gain legal access to remote areas.

As I embarked on a hike this week, headed for a clearly marked road entering National Forest on my map, I was deterred by threatening signs indicating “Private Road” and “Firearms in use. Proceed at Your Own Risk.”

Respecting private property and fearing for the safety of my two adopted shelter dogs, I backtracked and ascended from another access point. We enjoyed a beautiful day of wandering through multiple ecosystems. The early signals of fall reflected in the maroon high alpine tundra were bookended by lush green forest.

Relaxing in the evening, dogs exhausted beside me, it was clear that the beginning of our day was unnecessary. I was duped by an overzealous Homeowners Association. The road initially planned for access was open, but they had posted signage in a clear attempt to prevent public use. This detour turned a 10 mile plan into a 16 mile day, an extension that would deter many from attempting entry to this area.

I challenge those with means to open doors rather than building walls. Investments in education and inclusion will pay dividends for our community. Encourage shared use and stewardship of this special place that we call Colorado.

If your neighborhood backs up to public lands, engage your friends, family, and neighbors in this discussion. Do you live in this spectacular place so that you can lock it up and keep it all to yourself? Or will you share it with the many generations to come who have yet to experience the wonders of the natural world?

Let it snow!

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