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Your Letters

In response to the recent news relating to Hidden Gems not making any additional adjustments to their boundaries for existing and historical recreation use, White River Forest Alliance (WRFA) is not surprised. The heavy-handed tactics of the Hidden Gems Campaign have been shown over and over, and this is another example of the same.

Steve Smith, Wilderness Society, said it best at the recent meeting in Edwards when asked about how much the campaign has to spend on the proposal, his comment, “Whatever it takes.” It would seem that this attitude of “whatever it takes” applies to the political and negotiating pressures as well.

WRFA has been working for months to point out the areas of direct impact that new wilderness boundaries would have on existing and historical recreation areas. These areas include:

Summit County: In order of importance, Elliot Ridge, Hoosier Ridge, Porcupine and Ten Mile.

Eagle County: In order of importance, Lower Pinney, Freeman Creek, Basalt Mountain, Spraddle Creek and No Name

Our requests to boundary changes or companion designations were largely ignored by the Hidden Gems Campaign with small adjustments being made to Lower Pinney and Basalt Mountain/Red Table through our efforts. In April, when the campaign turned over its proposal to Congressman Jared Polis, WRFA was informed by Nissa Erickson, district representative for Congressman Polis, that further negotiations would be handled through the congressman’s office, and we have been working diligently through those channels since that time. We have been encouraged by the conversations with the congressman’s office and feel they are working to find the necessary balance for protecting recreation where it exists and additional land protection where it is deemed prudent.

Hopefully the public understands that the Hidden Gems proposal is just that, a proposal for something that does not yet exist. The White River National Forest and the BLM lands included in the proposal already exist in a pristine condition and are protected and managed by the current U.S. Forest Service management plan.

The White River National Forest already includes 33 percent wilderness and another 30 percent protected by roadless areas – that’s 63 percent of our forest being protected and off-limits to much of the risk that the Hidden Gems claims.

The Hidden Gems Campaign is made up of wilderness advocates that are paid to dream up new wilderness areas for a living. Their well-funded propaganda machine plays on fears that the forest as a whole is being torn up. For those that travel into our forest, you know this is not the case and while there may be small isolated areas of overuse, there are vast amounts of land that are rarely touched.

WRFA believes that wilderness is not the only option for protection and management of our scenic backcountry. We think we all can work together to find the right balance.

Tony Fisher, president

White River Forest Alliance

Our June Cafe Sci speaker was John Cohen, MD. He is an immunologist and past teacher of the year at the CU Medical School in Denver.

From his Cafe page (, Dr Cohen’s topic was “The Hygiene or Old Friends Hypothesis.” He chronicled the huge increase in allergic diseases like eczema and asthma, and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and Type 1 juvenile diabetes.

In the United States and Canada, the increase in these diseases is seen in rich, not poor, communities; in the north more than the south; and in urban more than rural communities. This does not seem to make sense. Why should people who live a “cleaner” lifestyle be more susceptible to allergy and autoimmunity?

The Hygiene Hypothesis addresses this seeming paradox. It says that humans have always had a gut and skin full of microorganisms and worms. Historically, we came to terms with these organisms. In fact, they served to train each person’s immune system not to overreact to harmless bugs.

But, when we cleaned up our environment, we lost some of our “Old Friends,” and our immune systems became unbalanced. Many people now respond violently and damagingly to gut organisms, skin bacteria, pollens and even foods as if they were the most dangerous pathogens.

Dr. Cohen changed forever how I look at the microscopic members of our environment. I now have a new appreciation for our symbiotic neighbors.

The next cafe features Dr. Theo Colborn at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4. More on this later.

See you in August,

John Hoffmann


Yes, Mr. Ceremuga, I don’t support either party, I am one of the people who feel unrepresented by both sides. The meaning of most of my letters is only to point out that writing letters that are completely factually wrong, in an effort to mislead others, does nothing to help our current situation. I get a kick out of those who call the government “them” or “they.” We are the ones who cast the votes, we are “the government.” The things that have happened under both the Bush administration and the Obama administration happened because we the people allowed it.

As far as where Osama Bin Laden is … well, I see military intelligence as an oxymoron. I ask the same question here: If they think he is in Iran why are we killing people in Afghanistan with remote control drones?

Concerning water boarding, Mr. Ceremuga, I find your attitude confusing. If they aren’t soldiers or wearing dog tags with serial numbers, that means they must be citizens. I’m pretty sure every citizen of the USA is considered to be a terrorist by citizens of Iraq, or Iran or Afghanistan. Are not citizens protected under the Geneva Conventions you invite me to read (again)? If we can go over there and pull anyone we want off the street and take them to Gitmo, then use water boarding on them, we are basically saying that if Iraq invaded the USA (the situation were reversed), we think the torture (water boarding) of individual private citizens said to be “suspects” by the enemy is acceptable. So I guess my stand on torture is, I don’t want my country doing it to anyone. That, I believe, is my best protection against being on the downside of the water while tied to a board if the USA were occupied. So my question to you, Mr. Ceremuga, is do you want to keep that water coming all the way to you and your family. If we can do it to them, they can do it to us. Like you said … it’s called Karma.

Brad Gates

New Castle

To the Aspen Animal Shelter:

A few weeks ago, I contacted you about helping me out with some cats that needed to be rehomed. The gentleman answering the phone said that the Aspen Animal Shelter takes only rescues and animals in need from areas lying within Pitkin County. I contacted the Aspen Shelter because: other shelters in the area were at capacity or beyond; based on your website you have less cats than other rescues in the area; and also because many of the cats in your facility are able to roam freely, which reduces stress during the rehoming process.

I must say that I was kind of shocked at the response that the Aspen Animal Shelter only serves areas within Pitkin County, especially when I just saw today that you were one of the agencies involved in the June 19 adoption fair held at PETCO in Glenwood Springs.

Now correct me if I’m wrong here, but I do believe that Glenwood Springs lies in Garfield County and not Pitkin County. How ironic and sad that you have no problems seeking homes for your homeless pets in downvalley areas that aren’t in Pitkin County, but when it comes to helping a downvalley resident, you have no qualms about turning us away.

I have been involved in animal rescue for a few years now, and have always been led to believe that as part of a greater community with a common mission, all rescues would try and help each other out.

While I have no problems whatsoever with this concept, I do have a problem with you bringing your animals to our neck of the woods for adoption but refusing to help in return. Because of this, perhaps you should encourage Pitkin County residents to do more, such as adopt two pets verses one, especially since their pockets are well-lined financially moreso than residents in Garfield County, and since you can’t bring yourselves to assist other animals in need outside of Pitkin County.


Lu Anne Herman


In response to Mr Ralston’s letter, a little piece of advise for you: “Don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house.”

Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders do not pay to use our federal lands with OHV registration as do “motorized” users. I want to know where all the federal funds are going to originate from if they ban motorized in the high country. The vast majority of OHV users are good stewards of our lands; unfortunately there is a small percentage of dumpers and renegade users that poach new trails.

As a native of this beautiful valley and very familiar (more than Mr. Ralston) with all the proposed areas, I, too, hope to preserve these priceless areas for all future generations. We need to have stricter regulations for the oil and gas industries – don’t punish us for their actions. If you want to keep them out pick a fight with them.

You talk about the “clear cut logging” … again I am from a logging family and witnessed firsthand the regulations that must be met for each logging permit. Do you use paper, or any other wood product?

We can use our “public” lands in a very responsible manner and retain the integrity of our planet. Let’s implore our local BLM and Forest Service offices to use our OHV registration funds to patrol the trails and keep up with current signage and maps.

I, too, want to keep renegade motorized users out of the high country, as they give us all a bad name. Aron, quit being so selfish and realize that these lands are big enough for all different walks or riders of life.

Nikki Fender


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