Thanks to the town of Vail leaders for their continued efforts to protect a local ecosystem. In “The Book of Hope” by Jane Goodall, the leading conservationist describes what gives her hope for our natural world and its biodiversity. Her hope lies with individuals and communities. Communities like ours that recognize that millions of smaller ecosystems that are saved protect and create larger ecosystems.
When referring to Vail Resorts’ desire to develop an important local ecosystem, Bill Rock, the company’s senior vice president, is quoted as saying this desire is not about money. I will argue, for the following reasons, that the location of that development is all about money.
First, Vail Resorts owns the Ever Vail property in west Lionshead which has been an eyesore for decades. It is the perfect place for Vail Resorts to house employees. The location is safe with a low environmental footprint because it is walkable to all amenities. The East Vail property is more than 4 miles from town, unsafe for walking, and requires a long round trip by car to amenities, in addition to destroying a hillside that was once thought to have been open space that belonged to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Differing property values between these two locations is why the conflict is all about money. Vail Resorts could beautify the eyesore for employee housing.
Additionally, the current iteration of Vail Resorts’ management demonstrates little concern or respect for our environment. Within the last two years, Vail Resorts was responsible for dumping millions of gallons of treated snowmaking water into Gore and Mill creeks causing a significant fish kill. The corporation has bulldozed an unauthorized road through alpine tundra, filled a wetland creek with logs, and has filed a complaint in district court against the town of Vail in order to continue to pursue development in East Vail, which wildlife experts say will lead to the demise of a native sheep herd. When Rock claims, without proof and against multiple wildlife experts, that he can build at that location without impacting much, I don’t believe it, since actions speak louder than words. This is about money.
Last month, the World Wildlife Fund published the Living Planet report for 2022, which demonstrated a nearly 70% decline in wildlife populations within the last 50 years. The proximate cause of this decline is land development. Vail Resorts is doing its part to contribute to that statistic with its legal actions and its public stance, in order to raze finite resources with no concern for community wishes or future generations. It is all about money!
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