The Rocky Mountains call to those who love wilderness. The Rockies are also one of the few places in the world where people can get back to nature, to experience the land in its natural form and to witness the wild. In a 2007 poll conducted by Talmey-Drake, Ninety percent of Coloradoans sited wilderness as an important economic and recreational aspect of life in Colorado.
Nowhere in Colorado are these factors truer than in Aspen and Snowmass Village. Nor is there a place in Colorado where the beauty and the poignancy of nature more easily accessed. To ensure that this beauty will remain for generations to come, the Hidden Gem Coalition was created to preserve and maintain the wilderness of the Central Rocky Mountains.
Back in 2007, a group of conservation minded wilderness lovers banded together to form a Wilderness Campaign, called the Hidden Gems Coalition in the White River National Forest. The premise of this coalition was to protect the middle elevation wilderness areas, which were excluded from the original wilderness protection legislation years ago due to mining and logging industries. Today these interests have diminished and the forests have become more and more a source of recreation. However, many wildlife species, some of which are threatened, call these forests home. The Hidden Gem’s goal was to enable people to continue to go into the forest and enjoy them, meanwhile protecting the animals, plant life and the health of the forests.
After three years of hard work, many discussions with community members and even more revisions, 150 to be exact, the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign has successfully been launched. Today the Hidden Gems protects 342,000 acres of wilderness in the Pitkin, Gunnison, Eagle and Summit counties. Under the current agreement, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, horseback riding, kayaking, rafting and many other activities are still allowed in the Hidden Gems areas. New mining, new drilling, logging, biking and motorized travel are forbidden.
The Roaring Fork Valley is a particularly popular place for outdoor recreation. While the US Forest Service reports that only 1% of White River National Forest users rely on snowmobiles, these vehicles damage and environmentally impact of these vehicles is significant. Not only do they detract from the silent peace of nature, they also negatively affect the safety and well being of other visitors, and wildlife. Far more use in the forest comes from much less damaging forms of recreation. Eight-one percent of visitors to the forest are hikers, horseback riders, kayakers and rafters. Because mountain biking is such a beloved aspect of life in the Roaring Fork Valley, the entire 23,000 acres of Sloan Peak were left out of the Hidden Gem project, preserving a huge portion of land for biking. Focusing on encouraging activities with the least impact on the land and limiting those more invasive forms of recreation has been a major victory for the land and its wild residents.
To encourage and educate residents of the Aspen and Snowmass Village area about the Hidden Gems in their area, the coalition in partnership with biking, hiking, nature and riding resources in the area, is offering a series of guided hikes and rides into various parts of the Hidden Gems wilderness area. From the end of June through August spectacular outdoor experiences are offered every weekend and even on weekdays. For the more solitary hiker, the Hidden Gems Coalition encourages you to visit on your own. They will send free maps and information about the various areas, if they are contacted through their website.
If you are feeling the call of the wild, come to Aspen, Snowmass Village and the Roaring Fork Valley. Experience the beauty and solace of nature in its most beautiful form. Then take a look at homes, investment properties and condos in the area. You will be investing not only in your own wilderness experience; you will be living in and investing in a community, which believes in preserving the wilderness experience of generations to come. www.GregRulon.com