John Spezia: Where paths diverge
January 21, 2013
In a letter to the Steamboat Today by Mark Hartless titled "Both sides are wrong" (Jan. 16), it appears from the content of his letter that he also is wrong on some of the points he makes.
I agree with him that the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass is "overgrazed" and that more parking lots will not solve the problem, but expanding snowmobile terrain to the west to alleviate the problem is not the solution, either. With "overgrazing," the Forest Service reduces the number of cows or removes them from the area that is being negatively impacted. Snowmobiles aren't cows, but that comparison could be applied in looking for a solution.
At this point in his letter, our opinions diverge because his letter is full of divisive stereotypes, generalizations and factual myths that stir up knee-jerk reactions that winter enthusiasts from both sides have tried to avoid.
The idea that the west area of the pass is under-utilized because there are not ski or snowshoe tracks on every square foot of snow misses the point. In our hectic daily lives, people are looking for relief from a barrage of noise, fumes, advertising clutter and all the distractions of our civilization. This quiet, stress-free, peaceful and beautiful environment is their sanctuary. So, every square foot of this area is being utilized, but it does not have to feel the footprint of humans.
Skiers and snowshoers do not hate individuals who snowmobile. We have all worked together on the pass to reduce these conflicts and to set boundaries to avoid conflict. What skiers and snowshoers do not like is the noise, fumes, tracked-up ski slopes, the stress of conflicts and the few snowmobilers who go out of their way to harass them. These few individual snowmobilers who violate the agreed upon boundaries at the pass and undermine the agreement made by all users of the pass do an injustice to the American process of democracy.
Nonmotorized users are not on the offensive to reduce the terrain that motorized users want. Approximately 90 percent of public land is open to motorized users as long it does not negatively impact the public's land. The Forest Service has a responsibility to manage public land and develop restrictions with public input for preservation, watershed protection, air quality, water quality and quantity, wildlife, hunting, fishing and wildlife habitat.