One of my favorite things to do is to ride a bicycle through beautiful places. I enjoy the fitness benefits and challenge of riding. I love the intimacy of riding through landscapes at a pace that allows one to experience the path and land, its sights and smells, the trees and animals and come away from these experiences with a renewed appreciation for how geography connects landscapes.
The Carbondale to Crested Butte trail, or at least the Crystal River Valley portion of this project has the potential to provide an amazing trail resource for those currently living along the corridor as well as in adjacent communities. Recreationalists, property owners, commuters, and tourists can all be served by such a trail.
I firmly believe that the trail can be built and managed with a deference to nature, wildlife, and the unique vegetation found in the valley. I reject the argument that the construction and existence of such a trail will spell the end for local wildlife populations. For sure there will be an impact, but one that I believe can and must be carefully managed.
Impacts on wildlife and natural resources will certainly be far less than what is already imposed by subdivisions and the associated activity of people living in and along the corridor. One way we might be able to minimize some of the impact we humans are having on the habitat of the Crystal River Valley would be to consider the overall scale of various human impacts and work to limit further residential construction and strive to get out of our cars and ride our bikes or walk more often, something that a multi-use trail would facilitate.
Additionally I would call Carbondale’s Trustees to “Carbondale’s Park, Recreation, and Trails Master Plan” adopted in 2015. The last bullet on page 68 details the importance of providing “connections to mountain recreation opportunities that provide recreation and tourism activity” and details the importance of supporting efforts to connect to trails throughout the region. The Carbondale to Crested Butte trail does exactly this.
I encourage support for a trail alignment that takes advantage of the historic railway and county roadbeds wherever possible and prudent. Not only will this make the trail economically feasible, but also provides for a superior user experience. With careful design and management I believe we can minimize negative impacts on wildlife. We can all be beneficiaries of an outstanding regional trail, one that not only connects communities and provides for unique recreational opportunities, but also makes commuting by bicycle and the benefits of doing so feasible. Threatened landscapes and habitat need committed advocates; what better way to support, educate, and inculcate stewardship than to provide opportunities for people to develop intimate connections with the land.