The story Life or Death for a Red Lady (Feb. 19) is sure to stir the blood of every dedicated environmentalist just by its title alone. But a few facts should be added for much-needed perspective:
1) Mount Emmons, the mountain in question, is only one of 21 peaks within 10 miles of Crested Butte with an altitude of more than 12,000 feet. In fact, nearly half are higher than 12,414-foot Mount Emmons.
2) The area that would be affected by mining is about the same size as that already rendered "dead" by the construction of highways now used for access to existing Wilderness Areas in Gunnison County. Of course, the mine would confine its effects to only one place.
3) Preservation is a relative thing. As SPORTS ILLUSTRATED points out, the Mount Emmons area has been actively mined for 75 of the last 100 years.
4) The State of Colorado now has more than two million acres of existing or pending Wilderness Areas, plus National Parks and Monuments. Yet we are encouraged to save still more land, even though these few hundred acres have a potential value of as much as $20 million an acre.
How far must this philosophy be stretched before it ceases to make sense?
PAUL L. WEIS
Do sportsmen know where their store-bought equipment really comes from? Graphite fly rod—graphite mine. Bird shot—lead mine. Nylon tent—oil well. Aluminum cook kit—bauxite mine. Color TV—europium (rare earth) mine. The list is endless. And, lest we forget, living trees were cut down and kaolin clay was most likely mined to produce this issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, which was no doubt printed on presses containing molybdenum alloy steel.
Keep mining out of Crested Butte and we cut off our nose to spite our face. Let's continue sound planning and careful mining to produce the equipment we need to enjoy the great outdoors.
DOUGLAS M. SMITH JR.
Mineral Exploration Coalition
As a writer and former resident of Crested Butte, I was heartened to see the mining issue gain the national coverage it deserves. Unless one has visited the area, it is impossible to convey the incredible beauty of that valley and the unique character of a town that stands to be destroyed.
Not mentioned in your article were the lands mined by American Metal Climax, Inc. at Climax, Colo. Although Climax is an old mine, anyone who has stood on the edge of that vast expanse knows that there is no environmentally conscious way to mine molybdenum. "A new generation of mines," indeed.