We have lived in the Wood River Valley for 25 years and have lived in Indian Creek for a large part of that time. In looking at the proposed BLM Travel Plan, we have a lot of concerns that we would like to bring to the attention of the BLM for further consideration.
We realize the amount of time and effort that has been spent on developing the new travel plan and I am sure it is very difficult to make all of the various user groups happy. It does seem to us that the winter area of critical environmental concern has not been given enough thought or possibly not enough public input has been gathered to make a rational decision.
We moved to the Wood River Valley to enjoy the recreational opportunities that exist right out our back door. I look back at the many hours my 10-year-old daughter has spent with her friends towing each other around on a sled behind their little snowmobile on an open field in BLM land adjacent to Indian Creek property. We go out our door and backcountry ski the peaks we can see from our living room. We ride right from the house on our snowmobiles to enjoy the mountains we love to live in. We put on our snowshoes and hike the mountains to take pictures and look at animal tracks in the snow. The winter ACEC closure plans take all of this away.
I enjoy hunting and spend a lot of time in the mountains in the spring, summer, fall and winter. I have watched the elk herds over the years, and like most people I know, respect their wintering grounds. In Indian Creek, for example, the elk winter on the south facing slopes generally very close to the mouth of Indian Creek bordering Buttercup Road. The elk generally winter on slopes and valley bottoms that have the least amount of snow. These areas aren't so appealing to the recreational user. These are relatively small areas that the animals return to year after year and are areas that we have stayed away from for years. It seems to me that there must be a way to educate people on these wintering areas and leave the thousands of remaining acres open to public use.
In considering the new travel plan, please allow the various user groups to work together. It seems as though the proposed travel plan is trying to pigeonhole every user for a very specific area and use. We are a nation of freedom and integration. I think we should be able to manage our public land in a simple way where we are considerate of each other and the animals we coexist with.
Please keep our pubic land open to the public.
Johnny and Shauna Unser