The White River Forest Alliance has worked diligently over the last several months to try to assure that the Hidden Gems Wilderness campaign would adhere to a transparent and open-to-the-public vetting process.
It has been WRFA's contention that a public forum was essential to this process. The organization feels that a critical component to the development of any Wilderness proposal must be public awareness and input. It has been its position that this input cannot be achieved solely in the small group format that the campaign has limited it to so far. Unfortunately, the campaign was unwilling to take this much needed step and submitted the proposal to Congressman Jared Polis without this final level of discussion.
Thanks to the Congressman, the public finally has a chance to voice its opinion on the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal. Congressman Polis is going to meet with the public regarding the Hidden Gems proposal in open forum style meetings. There will be meetings in Eagle County, Summit County and Boulder, all in Colorado. See schedule below.
The Eagle County meeting is likely your best chance and possibly your last chance to voice your opinion about the proposed Wilderness before Congressman Polis formulates the proposal into a bill.
If there are no opposing views brought forth, the Congressman will likely rely on information provided to him by the Hidden Gems Campaign, such as its carefully crafted poll that seems to indicate support for the proposal to determine whether or not he will develop the proposal into a bill and then sponsor it. The more opposition present at these meetings, the better chance we have of convincing him that this is not the right plan for public land, that Wilderness designation as a protection is but one tool of land conservation efforts and that possibly through education, responsible use and enforcement we can protect not only our public lands, but also the opportunity to experience them.
Many individuals, groups and representative bodies have met with the Hidden Gems Campaign and its representatives to make comments about specific areas of conflict with the proposal. While some of these comments have affected changes to the proposal, many have gone unnoticed, especially comments that are represented on a philosophical level about the disadvantages of Wilderness designation.
Please be sure you notify as many people as possible regarding these meetings. If we don't show up in numbers and voice our opposition, we will likely lose access to several areas of public land in Eagle and Summit counties.
What: Hidden Gems Wilderness Proposal Public Forum
Who: Congressman Polis and Community
Tuesday, June 1
Boulder Public Library
1000 Canyon Boulevard
Boulder, CO 80302
Thursday, June 3
Battle Mountain High School
151 Miller Ranch Road
Edwards, CO 81632
Friday, June 4
Colorado Mountain College, Breckenridge Campus
107 Denison Placer Road
Breckenridge, CO 80424