Letter to the editor: Thoughts on the proposed Swan Mountain project
The Swan Mountain project has the potential for changing the essence of recreation in Summit County. The proposed project area is one of the most heavily used areas in Summit County for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Without consideration of the intrinsic scenic value of this recreational experience for a large segment of the local residents, including visitors, the experience will be lacking the very elements that residents and visitors sought when coming to Summit County.
As stated in the U.S. Forest Service manual, Chapter 2380: “The American people are concerned about the quality of their visual environment. Because of this concern, it has become appropriate to establish the ‘visual landscape’ as a basic resource, to be treated as an essential part of and receive equal consideration with the other basic resources of the land.”
Within the project scope, the Continental Divide Trail is finally getting the consideration the National Trails System Act of 1968 requires. What we would desire is that the trails in the project area be given similar consideration. From my understanding of the project, 100 feet to each side from the centerline of the trail will be landscaped, i.e. deadfall cleared and minimal required cutting done within the corridor to improve the scenic experience. If we could apply this approach to the remaining trails within the project area, the essence of the recreation on these trails will be maintained.
It is understood that beetle kill devastated a large portion of the forest in Summit County and that those trees need to be cut and burned. I have recently hiked within the project area and believe that cutting beetle-kill trees while retaining the remaining uninfected trees within the 100-foot corridor of the trail will maintain the “visual landscape” and still allow the required fuel breaks.
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