TO: The Board of Trustees, Town of Green Mountain Falls, P.O. Box 524, Green Mountain Falls, CO 80819
SUBJECT: Petition Rebuttal
This letter is in response to the petition circulated by Mr. Mac Pitrone, with its accompanying 28 signatures, that was submitted to the Board of Governors of the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation last September and then subsequently presented to the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees at a public hearing on 3 March 2015. Clearly, Mr. Pitrone is passionate and dedicated in his opposition to the Mount Dewey Trail; and, I would neither anticipate nor expect him to present those arguments supporting such a trail at the public hearings that he has attended to the people he presented with his petition. That is typically how a petition works, you present your arguments to a potential signatory without the benefit of that person hearing the opposing point of view. For those willing to actually take the time out of their schedules to attend public hearings, the vast majority of all those who have spoken before the Board of Trustees were in favor on the Dewey Mountain Trail proposal (and this is public record, recorded on tape). I would like to present a counter arguments to each of the four assertions Mr. Pitrone made in his petition.
1. First and foremost, there are multiple reasons why people elect to move to the Ute Pass Area and it is presumptive for one group of citizens to characterize the overall motivations of the entire community based off of their point of view. However, a few things are empirically undeniable. While being in a relatively secluded valley, we are also minutes away from our State’s second largest city, a major east to west four lane highway is less than a couple hundred yards away from the Town’s city limits, while lacking any typically urban conveniences (e.g. gas stations, shopping centers, movies theaters, etc…) the town possess numerous amenities such as: a nearby public elementary school, restaurants, places of worship, and recreational facilities (i.e. a public swimming pool, tennis courts, parks, a playground, and a pond). Of course, a major appeal is the town’s spectacular surrounding landscape. The members of the Green Mountain Trails Committee are of the opinion that it is our access to nature that makes Ute Pass a very special place to live. An access that is made possible by our numerous trails that allows one to experience nature first hand by hiking its trails which are mere minutes away from our doorsteps. We also cherish our local restaurants that would most certainly lack the customer base for them to survive if it were not for our out of town tourist and visitors. This is why our trails are so important to the community – it is a quality of life multiplier. Clearly, not everyone in the community shares this perspective and we both acknowledge and support that they too are entitled to their opinions. That being said, it is difficult to understand the “privacy” concern. One has only to look at the typical lot sizes on the base of the Mount Dewey hillside to see that these properties can fittingly be described as “postage stamp” size lots. If privacy is such an overwhelming consideration, why would one chose to live in such tight proximity to one’s neighbors when there are far more spacious, inexpensive, and secluded properties near the Ute Pass Corridor? It would seem that their definition of privacy is mainly rooted in a desire to keep the public off of public lands – which they clearly do not have a right to demand.
2. Claiming that “Historically, hikers using Catamount trail park their can along Belvedere Ave. ignoring posted signs to the contrary.” is an hearsay allegation at best. No denying, some inconsiderate hikers will do exactly just that; but, there is nothing to substantiate that this applies to the vast majority of our hikers. It is also worth nothing (as pointed out by our Police Chief at one of our hearings), that these “no parking” signs are actually just requests since these are public roads that actually are legal public parking areas (provided they are not blocking private driveways or interfering with the thoroughfare). While I’m equally unable to authoritatively substantiate this claim, it has been my personal experience that the vast majority of hikers are very considerate individuals – which tends to go hand-in-hand with an appreciation of nature. I, for one, would also be very supportive of the Town seeking more aggressive enforcement measures to go after those who do not respect the desire of the entire town that they only use the designated parking areas. Denying access to the trails however is an overreach. Like all great tourist destinations, it just comes with the territory that there will be strains on our parking situations during the peak tourist seasons. In that regard, Green Mountain Falls is no different than any other desirable location, only we the residents have the great fortune to call this place home year around. Trying to deny everyone else access to our piece of paradise is just plain selfish at best.
3. We will have to accept Mr. Ray Burgess’ word when he testified before the Town’s Board of Trustees that his fire mitigation attempts were done in consultation with and at the behest of the Forest Service. That being said, it is true that the Green Mountain Falls Trail Committee has no plans to restore what some people believe is the cosmetic damage to the landscape due to Mr. Burgess’ fire mitigation attempts – it is not withinin our scope. However, should a group of concerned citizens want to approach the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation to address those concerns, the Green Mountain Falls Trails Committee would not have any objections. Our focus is, and remains, to address the erosion damage done to the hillside caused by the numerous social trails crisscrossing the hillside with a single, erosion abating supportable trail.
4. After looking at the alternative trail access location that Mr. Pitrone offered the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation in a letter addressed to Mr. Eliziabeth Eickman on 16 September, 2014, it is the consensus of the Trails Committee that this is not a viable option for the trail’s primary access point. While we applaud Mr. Pitrone’s efforts in looking for an alternative, this routing has two inherent flaws which are as follows:
– It requires a hiker to walk approximately an additional two and a half miles just to reach the property’s backside. Most hikers are no different than the rest of us and will seek a path of least resistance. They will just continue to do what they have done for decades and trespass over private lands and hike the numerous erosion causing social trails. If the trail is placed at the alignment that the Green Mountain Trails Committee is suggesting, it would actually be the closest trail to the designated parking lots down in the Town and allow the Trails Committee to address the erosion problems.
– One of the greatest benefits to a Mt Dewey Trail, is that it would be the only south slope facing trail in our entire network of trails. Every other trail in Green Mountain Falls is practically unusable for several months out of the year due to the accumulation of snow and ice on the shadowy side of the valley. The trail the we are proposing would be our most year around accessible trail; and, due to the sparse vegetation, it would offer unprecedented and continuous spectacular views of the town and valley below. The routing Mr. Pitrone suggested would require accessing Dewey Mountain on an existing trail on the shady side of the valley with all of the accompanying limitations.
Gordon R. Wines