Should Vail Resorts Build On Big Horn Sheep Winter Range?

 

A herd of bighorn sheep could soon lose access to its historic winter range if a controversial housing development is allowed to go through in the town of Vail, Colorado. 

The high density housing complex that’s threatening these Colorado big horns is being proposed by Vail Resorts—a multinational corporation that owns and operates 40 resorts in the U.S., Australia, and Canada. 

Vail Resorts is hoping to build multiple structures in the middle of critical sheep habitat to house its growing workforce. That would amount to a total of 61 residential units on a parcel that the company owns known as Booth Heights. This plot sits between I-70 and the Gore Range, and it has served as critical winter grazing ground for the native Gore Range bighorns for as long as most Vail residents can remember. 

The corporation says that this housing project is vital to its long term goals and has ignored pleas from Vail community members and the Vail Town Council to build the development on a different parcel that won’t threaten critical wild sheep habitat. 

Habitat loss and fragmentation of bighorn sheep herds pose significant threats to this already imperiled species, and Vail Resorts’ plan to build on this historic sheep winter range would directly contribute to that troubling trend by forever displacing Vail’s beloved bighorns. 

After completing a thorough on-the-ground study of the proposed development site, the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife’s own biologists advised Vail Resorts against moving forward with this project. They say, in no uncertain terms, that “the impacts to this already struggling sheep herd as a result of this development might not be able to be mitigated.” Translation: the habitat will be lost and the sheep will be gone.  

As previously mentioned, Vail Resorts has chosen to disregard these grave caveats as well the groundswell of local opposition that has emerged within the Vail community. 

Vail Resorts has been given multiple generous alternatives by the Town of Vail to move their development to another location (free of charge) and the ski company has denied all of those offers. 

Additionally, Vail Resorts boldly claims to have a “Net Zero impact on the environment and habitat”. These empty claims are proving to be nothing more than greenwashing, and a ploy to attract investors. 

Please help the Town of Vail and the continued existence of this iconic wild sheep herd by taking action on behalf of bighorns below. 

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