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Deny scout camp proposal

Editor’s note: This letter was originally addressed to Bill Westbrook, Sopris District Ranger, White River National ForestDear Editor,This letter is in response to the February 15th Aspen Times article announcing that a decision will be made in two weeks regarding whether or not the review of the Boy Scout application will continue. The article also states that scout leaders have been directed to supply additional information about the need for the proposed camp. The following are points that I hope you consider during this critical review time:-It will be extremely difficult for the scout representatives to argue “need” for taking over public lands in the Fryingpan Valley when they have a much larger private facility located in their western service area. If they did not have this private facility, their argument for “need” would take on some merit. The fact that Camp Greager exists is central to the consideration of need, even though the public was repeatedly told that it had nothing to do with this proposal.-Have you or a member of your staff toured the Camp Greager facility?-Have you or a member of your staff visited with Camp Greager scout supporters to fully understand the potential for this camp and the unfortunate financial decisions of the Western Council regarding this facility in the past?-Have you considered what an expenditure of the millions the scout representatives “propose” to spend in the Fryingpan Valley would accomplish at Camp Greager?-Have you or your staff studied the numerous boy scout camp closures around the country and the resulting implications?-If you study a map of the Scout’s Western Council area, you will note that while the Aspen representatives argue that this is a much better location for a camp than Camp Greager, in reality the Fryingpan Valley is located on the eastern border of their service area. In one breath, the scout representatives argue that this will be more convenient for “area” scouts, then in the next breath they state it is their intention to attract scouts from all over the country to this camp so it will be financially viable. In other words, their “location, location, location” argument is ludicrous. In reality, troops will have no difficulty driving to Camp Greager and over better roads.-In the past, boy scout troops have camped all over the Fryingpan area. At one point there was a yearly boy scout camp located in the meadows of the Fryingpan River below the present lodge. It was used during the summers, with no resulting damage to the environment because it was limited in size, they camped in tents, and the forest was given the chance to recover the rest of the year. I mention this because this area has always been accessible to area scouts and denying this proposal will not change this fact.-When you consider “need,” keep in mind the need for accessibility and travel safety for the scouts attending any camp and especially in the numbers proposed. There is a reason why the school district does not drive buses beyond the reservoir on this narrow, winding road.-Lastly, please consider the “need” for the public (including scouts of all persuasions) to continue to enjoy this undeveloped area versus the “desires” of a private group to irreversibly change and develop this same area to meet their plans.It is my understanding that one of the duties of the USDA Forest Service is to protect and preserve our precious natural resources for the enjoyment of the public. It is my hope that you will make your decision based on the greater public “need” and deny this proposal.Sincerely,Diane DarroughCarbondale


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