Could locals control public lands? |

Could locals control public lands?

Ed Simonson

Dear Editor,

We have heard a lot lately about democracy and freedom. How ironic that we have so little here in western Colorado in regard to our “public lands,” as pointed out by the Nov. 7 article in The Aspen Times about a proposed $85 fee to hike the Maroon Bells.

Policy regarding our neighboring Forest Service and BLM lands is dictated by Washington, D.C. The prohibition of mountain biking on Basalt Mountain from town and the allowance of shooting guns at Lake Christine are dictated by bureaucrats accountable only to state-appointed officials. The local people affected by all this have little say and no control.

But what if we did? What if the people of the towns and counties of western Colorado and their elected officials accountable to the local voters were the ones in control of these “public lands” rather than federal and state bureaucrats?

What if the local people were the ones deciding all issues relating to the use of these lands such as hiking, biking, skiing, camping, hunting, logging, livestock grazing, gas drilling, the operation of motorized vehicles and so forth? It’s really just a dream. But think about it. Wouldn’t local control be better? Isn’t that real democracy and freedom?

Ed Simonson


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