Saturday, March 31, 2007

Off-trail rule is just ridiculous

Boulder Daily Camera Letter to the Editor -- 3/23/07

Off-trail rule is just ridiculous

The current policy by the Boulder County Open Space department, requiring permits to go off the trail, is inappropriate and without foundation.

The stipulated area involves the Grasslands in eastern Boulder County, primarily west and south of Superior. This area is indeed a short-grass ecosystem, but is far from pristine. It currently has few, if any, trails, and those of us who use it for picnicking and running and hiking treasure it for its solitude and beauty.

The rationale that large numbers of people use it and harm it in some way is flawed at best. The short-grass ecosystem is not fragile in the least; in fact, it not only endures but thrives in severe conditions. Imagine, if you will, tens of thousands of buffalo foraging trampling, wallowing, fighting on a regular basis. Couple this with regular burning. This is the system in which it evolved and flourished.

Compare that with today's sporadic grazing and non-burning policy, and you have a comparably unhealthy system. To insinuate that occasional trampling by off-trail users is harmful borders on ridiculous. If you want to witness devastation, visit one of the several prairie-dog villages that are stagnant due to overpopulation (not enough predators) and primed for disease (including the plague). The grassland system in these areas is denuded, maybe beyond recovery.

Requiring a permit maybe goes further than preservation. With now three taxes for open space, the bulging budget requires more bureaucratic spending! More positions for code enforcement and permit issuing. A private army of 9mm-packing officials. This is not what I want my tax dollars to be spent on.

I protest this policy and request it be rescinded.



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