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Opinion: Vail’s legacy includes wilderness

Udall’s wilderness plan good for wildlife, good for people

Wilderness helps protect water quality in the high country.

By Dr. Tom Steinberg

This year as we celebrate Vail’s 50th anniversary, I reflect on the people and attitudes that made this place blossom from a sheep pasture into a world class resort. Vail pioneers came here for the place – the beautiful mountains and great skiing. We came for a lifestyle of being in nature and appreciating it for all its challenges and wildness. Like anyone who succeeds in life, we had grit, determination, creativity and resilience.

Within a decade of Vail’s birth we began working hard to ensure our future by seeking wilderness protection for the stunningly beautiful lands around us. We held “wilderness walks” through town, wrote thousands of letters to decision makers, hiked the Gore and Holy Cross areas with community leaders and talked with anyone who cared to hear about protecting the resources that we saw as integral to the long-term future of the resort and the community.

We understood that the natural capital of this region is finite. We knew that in order to maintain the goose that was laying our golden eggs and create a sustainable tourism economy for our future, we needed to make regular deposits into the natural capital fund, by protecting streams, wildlife habitat, migration corridors, and forests from the biggest threat they faced, which was us – the growing human population. Continue reading

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