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Weigh in on the Crystal Trail

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Dear Editor:

Due to a 2.5 percent response on a first survey, Pitkin County OST has designed a second survey and the time is now to have your opinion considered regarding the proposal to build a trail up the Crystal!  You do not need to be a Pitkin County resident to participate.

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Pitkin County OST offers two alternatives: Option A which would follow the highway corridor and Option B which would follow the old RR grade on the east side of the river; traveling through neighborhoods and critical Wildlife Habitat. Sadly, the alternatives of widening the highway or doing nothing at all were not entertained. However, there is no reason you cannot state this as your choice on the updated survey.

In my mind, it is paradoxical that on the heels of OST spending 36 million dollars on Crystal River property acquisition to promote habitat connectivity and biodiversity that they are now considering Option B which would significantly impact river, riparian and wildlife habitat in this narrow valley corridor.  My concerns are:

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  • The demand for trail use needs to be defined: do the people want road riding? Mountain biking? trail hiking, or nothing at all?
  • The segmentation of the proposal whose result could be 12 additional bridges up the Crystal;
  • The extreme cost of the project will direct resources away from more compelling projects such as more open space acquisition, better parking at current OST sites, maintenance and winter closure enforcement of current trails, and the need for habitat enhancement on parcels with bigger issues;
  • The potential of angering private landowners and tarnishing future efforts for Open Space and Land Trust Entities;
  • The oversight of the 2011 Pitkin County and Crystal River Caucus results which identify the preservation of rural character, wildlife habitat, open lands and environmental quality as highest priorities;
  • The lack of information regarding number of user days over time on each section.

The Crystal River Valley is magnificent and we stand to lose it as it currently exists. A friend recently said to me ” We mustn’t let our lust for enjoying these spaces cloud our perspective in considering the threat we may actually pose by upsetting their delicate ecological balance”.   Please participate in the future of this valley by going to pitkinostprojects.com, finding the hidden “click here for a link to the survey” and voicing your concerns. Going to page 190 on the Draft Plan will help you to answer the questions but short of this just find a spot on the survey to state your concerns. On June 26 at 4 p.m. in the Calaway Room at the Third Street Center in Carbondale there will be an opportunity to voice concerns to the Pitco OST and Board of County Commissioners.  

Heather Froelicher
Crystal River Valley

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