Dear Editor,

While a letter in the January 20th issue was titled Barbour resident protecting his backyard, in fact, Barbour Lake really is our backyard. Our family is the landholder bounding the Lake. We are not opposed to non-motorized access of the Barbour Rock area. However, we are in opposition to the extensive, constructed trail system, and what will inevitably be severe degradation of the landscape, the wildlife, the grassland resources, and the inherent wilderness and spiritual value of the area.

One could counter that, two kilometres distant, the spectacular views of Toby Creek Canyon are still intact along the Johnson Bike Trail. But has anyone along these trails seen a lynx dart by so focused on a hare that it missed the human; crested a saddle and met a herd of elk; followed wolverine tracks; or seen a bear or a cougar on a morning walk? We have seen all of these near Barbour Rock; along the Johnson Trail, where deer and elk were once hosted, I have never seen any mammal larger than a squirrel.

And sure, there are other locations besides Barbour Lake in the Columbia Valley where one might see and hear Common Nighthawks at dusk, or other less frequently seen species. However, I do not believe there is any nearby location as beautiful. Do we have the right to impact the habitat of any or every threatened species until it is pushed over the brink, simply because the species may still exist elsewhere?

In countless walks in the heights around and above Barbour Lake, I have met hikers, photographers, mushroom pickers, parents taking toddlers on their first wilderness adventure, naturalists, cyclists, climbers, snowshoers, romantic young teens, hunters, etc. Yes, the rugged but accessible terrain and spectacular views could be great expert bike trails. But why should mountain biking be developed so extensively in an area that is so widely used, by so many others in a less exclusive manner?

Last year, my family fought for the preservation of the bike trail network along the Paskapoo Slopes in Calgary. Mountain biking surely trumps hotels and shopping malls, but wilderness trumps trail building, especially when the open nature of the terrain already allows easy access.

As a family intimately familiar with the unique aesthetics of this area, we feel compelled to speak up in support of maintaining its integrity and natural beauty, in every aspect, and for everyone.

Paul Bauman

Toby Benches/Calgary