ESWA opposes the proposed Berlaimont development that would construct nineteen 35-acre trophy estates, with 9 “accessory units,” in a private 680-acre inholding in critical winter wildlife habitat in the White River National Forest above Edwards. On March 10, 2023, the White River National Forest released a signed Record of Decision (ROD) for the Berlaimont Estates Road Improvement Project, approving construction of a year-round, multi-mile paved access road through the National Forest that would cut right through some of the last best winter wildlife habitat in the valley, reducing deer and elk populations that are already in decline. On March 13, 2023, Wilderness Workshop and Rocky Mountain Wild filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Washington D.C., asking for a ruling overturning the ROD.
What you can do
Voice your opinion with the Eagle County Commissioners and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials!
Eagle County Commissioners: Although the proposed subdivision itself is not subject to approval by the Commissioners because each lot will be 35 or more acres, other aspects of the development, including the access road, may require County permits. Urge the Commissioners to deny any permits that may be required for the access road or the development. Email Commissioners at email@example.com.
Suggested talking points:
The road will impact critical winter wildlife habitat. The area is currently closed to car and truck traffic in winter months to protect deer and elk populations, which in the Eagle Valley have declined by more than 50% in recent decades.
The proposal also is unreasonable because it will put more infrastructure and people deep in a fire-prone forest. The USFS lacks the budget to protect current development in our forests, much less 19 new mansion estates and 9 accessory units high above Edwards.
The public deserves to see the Forest Service’s responses to the January 25 Hearing Officer’s request for additional information on wildlife impacts prior to the USFS finalizing the Record of Decision.
Read letter opposing Berlaimont from Governor Polis, Senators Bennet and Hickelooper, and Congressman Neguse.
More history on Berlaimont: In September 2020 Scott Fitzwilliams, the White River National Forest Supervisor, issued a decision allowing the road. EWSA, Wilderness Workshop, and other local environmental groups filed objections. On January 7, 2021, a USFS hearing officer conducted a hearing on the objections, at which ESWA and many other conservationists testified in opposition to the road. On January 25, 2021, the Hearing Officer largely upheld the granting of the permit, although the Forest Supervisor was directed to further consider several wildlife issues, such as impacts on the local elk herd.
USFS website on Berlaimont here
USFS Hearing Officer’s January 25, 2021 decision, and related news article: HERE
ESWA will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with Wilderness Workshop and others to attempt to prevent the development and proposed access road.