Pera: A Valley Floor Playground Is Not Preservation | Musings of a Mountain Man
by Jack Pera
May 30, 2007 | 523 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Now grab your favorite toys, guys and gals and do-si-do. Push the pedals fast and hard, and around those wheels do go. We’ve got a valley that’s a tailor-made playground, so head right out and promenade. Well I do declare and I ain’t no square, it’s open season on the Valley Floor, so let’s dance till the grass be bare.

No license or entry free required to participate in this shindig, courtesy of a $50 million dollar heroic fundraiser. Fishing? Kayaking? Biking? Hiking? Skiing? Skinny dipping? Frisbees? Golf driving range? Horseshoes? Horses? Whatever. Doesn’t matter, so long as it’s got recreation attached to it. Conservation?  Pig’s ass. Preservation? Merde (excuse my French), what a waste of time, money, hope and effort. Open Space? Since the Valley Floor is about to be converted in a veritable garden of recreational delights, I’ll blow that excuse all to hell in a moment.

So a select few dedicated recreationalists are going to determine the fate of the Valley Floor, leaving those who want it truly preserved shut out of the process? What could be more unfair than that? Hold on, people, we preservationists aren’t in the mood for a quickly passed ordinance or whatever con job. Fifty million dollars goes a lot deeper than that. We want our place at the table. Now. Preservation must be considered an option. Real preservation, not some phony, cleverly worded façade that placates a placebo. One with teeth. One for the elk, deer, geese, coyotes, and genuine environmentalists. One for the ages.

I don’t know what the final count of donors was and it will never be known because of  those who donated cash at the Elks Park wishing well towards “conserving” (recreating, ruining) the Valley Floor, but it’s my belief that everyone who voted to save it (whatever that ultimately means, and the ramrods are about to legislate it to us) the Valley Floor has a legitimate say in what happens to it. Especially the big boys who emptied their philanthropic wallets so that it could all happen. What about them? Don’t they have a huge stake in determining whether the Valley Floor is developed (recreation) or preserved (look up the definition of this word)?

I think so. I know so.

Oh, I know, I shouldn’t be so naïve, the Town of Telluride wrestled the Valley Floor away from the San Miguel Valley Corp. under the guise of “open space.” Let me give you the precise definition of open space courtesy of [Open Space. noun. Ecology. undeveloped land that is protected from development by legislation.] Jeez! Undeveloped? As in no recreational development? Tell you what: If Neal Blue loses his appeal, and right now I’m undecided whether I favor that he does even though I contributed to SAVE the Valley Floor. Hard as it is to swallow, in some respects it would tickle the hell out of me if he sued the Town of Telluride for breach of stated open space  condemnation rights the moment the Town of Telluride allows any meaningful recreational development on this piece of precious pie. Please note, and I repeat, according to the dictionary, open space and recreational development are about as far apart as is preservation and a playground.

I beseech the Telluride Town Council to discontinue immediately hastily ramrod-ing any final ordinance that converts the Valley Floor into a recreational playground. Extremely limited use by the general public must be an option that deserves a fair hearing. 

So what’s changed since the initial conservation easement agreement has been drafted? Off the top, two very important things: Donor rights and elk. Yeah, what about the elk who have magically adopted the Valley Floor in the last couple of years? Don’t they get a say-so in this matter? Why are they there? Might it be because the Valley Floor became off-limits to people? Or might it be because they’ve found a place that’s half-way peaceful since development and recreation is raising holy hell with most of their traditional habitat?

If recreation is allowed on the Valley Floor, the elk will leave because of constant harassment. The bike trail along the south hillside to Society Turn will guarantee that. Ditto recreationalists and their inevitable dogs. I have nothing against recreation until it becomes environmentally abusive. I also have nothing against the elk remaining on the Valley Floor that hands-off recreation won’t cure. Recreationalists have no more of an environmental conscience or consciousness for that matter, than all those who hate environmentalists. After all, it isn’t like anyone who lives in the Telluride region is recreationally deprived.

Fellow genuine environmentalists and donors, you'd better speak up and take action now, or I guarantee you’ll soon be wallowing in regrets. In my view it’s immoral and thoroughly dishonest to completely shut out those who contributed to truly save the Valley Floor.

I offer a proposal: Let the recreationalists put forth their options as to how the Valley Floor should be ruined and let us preservationists put forth our proposals as to how the Valley Floor should be preserved and then let’s vote on it.

Oh, and this is most important: Only those who put their money where their convictions are to preserve or destroy (recreation) the Valley Floor get to vote. How about it, Town Council? This issue and project is far to big and costly to give it all away to development.

You know, prior to the development of the ski area the Town of Telluride ran raw sewage through the Valley Floor via dumping it into the San Miguel River. My question is this: At what point does excessive recreational use become a sewage problem?

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