I was born in Kemmerer, Wyoming and grew up in Durango, Colorado. After college I moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. What drew me to Crested Butte from Steamboat Springs in 1996 was the wild open space to roam amid spectacular peaks, the abundant flowers, and the stillness of the place, along with our wonderful, small community. Long ski tours on pristine snow fed my soul; a full day of spinning my pedals took me to the most amazing places; several days of walking with a pack on my back brought me to meadows in which the flowers grew so tall they hid bull elk., and to resting places overlooking a bear hustling over a steep mountain pass or one with cubs playing on a log, unaware of our presence. Just minutes from town all was quiet and untrammeled for miles in all directions.
Not surprisingly, my previous homes in Durango and Steamboat Springs, and now Crested Butte have been discovered. I notice the crowding by humans, vehicles and buildings, but I also notice the noise. Loud trucks, a loud highway, loud hockey, blasting stereos and loud snowmobiles are replacing solitude and peace. It is getting harder and harder to get away from it. We all need nature and quiet to recover from the stresses of life. The noise in the backcountry is pushing wildlife farther and farther away, shrinking their environment. We owe it to our animal neighbors to be respectful of their homes too.
I can accept that more people have discovered this place and want to make it part of their life, but I can’t accept the constant assault on the earth and intrusion of noise into every wild place. Our small town in a big wilderness is fast becoming a sprawling development within a shrinking wilderness.
I believe in Elk Mountains Backcountry Alliance’s mission and support their work to address the urgent need for a comprehensive winter outdoor recreation plan in the north valley to contain the noise and vehicle use to certain areas while retaining some areas as quiet, and protecting wildlife and ecosystems in the process. Although I occasionally use a snowmobile to access a friend’s cabin and to ski in the winter, and I drive a vehicle several times per week, I believe our reliance on noisy vehicles for work and recreation has gotten completely out of control. Our backcountry is not just an adrenaline fueling playground, it is the living, breathing earth. As a species we need again to learn to take care of her and to respect the needs of others out in our often busy public lands. Our view of the world and recreation has to change if we are to survive. Not only are we destroying the environment and adding to climate change, we are driving ourselves crazy with the noise and the frantic rushing to and fro. Elk Mountains Backcountry Alliance is working to make positive and lasting change that will help us all.