Friday, March 13, 2009

Quigley Canyon is valuable to wildlife


John Delorenzo lives in Bellevue.

By John Delorenzo

Hailey City Council members speak nobly of protecting wildlife:

"This valley's wildlife record the past 10 years has been abysmal. This winter range is unique and I want to see the animals protected." (Don Keirn)

"I'm not willing to sacrifice game. It's a moral issue." (Martha Burke)

They then go on to cave in by going against recommendations of the Hailey Planning & Zoning commissioners to protect the heart of critical wildlife habitat in upper Quigley Canyon.

They go against the recommendation of the Department of Fish and Game, which called Quigley important wildlife habitat, "including fawning habitat for mule deer, migrating mule deer, and winter habitat for mule deer and elk." They go against local citizens, authorities on wildlife and sportsmen and hunters like myself. We have detailed to them the thriving winter ecosystems in Quigley, where ideal southern exposures and abundance of vital native plant communities support deer and elk populations. These prey species support coyotes, mountain lions, wolves, bald and golden eagles, magpies and badgers. Moose and antelope also have been seen up Quigley. This is our local Serengeti.

I was out there last weekend and saw hundreds of deer, eagles and more. Should we sacrifice fawning grounds for a golf course? The P&Z's conditions to annexation, which disallow development in Deadman Gulch or above (east of) the pond, should be absolutely non-negotiable. The City Council thinks that if they limit the number of McMansions, they can get away with pleasing the developers and still save the wildlife. This will not work; you will lose the wildlife. In the Wood River Valley, Quigley is the last stand for wintering wildlife. Bulldozing pristine riparian areas above the pond to build trophy homes is unconscionable. The out-of-state developer may indeed own property on the canyon floor, but it is surrounded by thousands of acres of public land, land that belongs to you and me. Fish and Game considered buying this land to protect wildlife, but the price was too high.

So, how is it that a developer can come in and buy off or offer enough amenities to the city that the whole comprehensive plan gets thrown out the window? The developers behind Tamarack had big money, too, but are now bankrupt, leaving behind a trail of unpaid contractors and a half-built resort ghost town.

If we let them get away with this—building in critical habitat and fawning areas—we will soon be reading stories about the elk being trapped and shipped away as in Warm Springs, or hazed by snowmobiles away from unfenced trophy homes (Golden Eagle) or dying from desperately eating poisonous decorative shrubs to survive, because homeowners have sued the people feeding them (Elkhorn). Must I say more?

Where are the environmentalists' voices now? Where are you who care for wildlife and our quality of life? Where are the other sportsmen and hunters? Get off your rear and make them ashamed of caving in to developers whose plan disregards wildlife, and is meant to maximize profit, not to benefit you or me. Even development up to the pond will be detrimental, but at least stop it there. Hold these elected officials responsible—tell them not to allow any development in Deadman Gulch or above the pond, period.

Write an e-mail to heather.dawson@haileycityhall.org, fax 788-2924, or show up at the next public meeting, April 6 at 5:30 p.m. at Hailey City Hall.




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