Our Future Forests: Four Ways the Outdoor Recreation Community Can Help
By Bruce Ward and Brian Kelleghan
When wildfires devour our forests the entire outdoor recreation community suffers: hikers, hunters, anglers, kayakers, mountain bikers, four-wheelers, campers, snowmobilers, skiers, birdwatchers, mountain climbers, and even people who just like taking scenic drives. Severe droughts and the increasingly hotter and longer summers have led to more frequent and catastrophic wildfires. While efforts to safeguard our forests depend greatly on national and state policies, individuals can help protect our shared cathedrals of conifers and the surrounding natural environment most of us enjoy.
Here are four things you can do to help save the forests and watersheds that all of us in the outdoor recreation community love and cherish:
1. Advocate for increased funding for U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and their sister agencies so
they can reduce the number of catastrophic wildfires before they start. All these agencies have been grossly underfunded for years and likely will
remain so in this era of record federal deficits.
2.Educate yourself. Learn why our land management agencies must thin the forest – that is, remove dead wood and even live trees. Understand, too, when the agencies set controlled burns they are mimicking nature and the natural process to clear away overgrowth that ignite and feed huge wildfires.
3.Volunteer. The agencies need help restoring landscapes and watersheds after devastating wildfires occur. You can help plant trees, clear trails, and educate homeowners, campers, and other forest users about fire prevention and mitigation. Support organizations like the Boy and Girl Scouts who dedicate thousands of volunteer hours every year.
4. Support funding sources that help our forests. The National Forest Foundation’s Skier Conservation Fund provides millions of private sector dollars with matching federal funds to assist land managers working with volunteers. Lottery dollars can be directed to fund recreation and conservation efforts. Your philanthropic donations can be directed to the volunteer organizations that are helping get work done on the ground.
We in the outdoor recreation community – regardless of how we choose to enjoy the forests – are not helpless. We have a voice, we have votes. We need to take action.
Mr. Ward is the founder and President of Choose Outdoors, based in Denver and serves on Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Council and is chair of the Mile High Rotary Club Youth Services Committee
Mr. Kelleghan is the owner of Bison Designs, a Mountain View District and Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America and Vice Chair of Choose Outdoors.
This past June, the Choose Outdoors team partnered with the Denver Mile High Rotary to take 8 students on a trip to Estes Park, CO for a weekend full of camping, hiking, kayaking, and exploring.The weekend started on Saturday morning when the students piled up their things and made their way up to the Estes Park KOA.
The first day included a trip up to the top of Rocky Mountain National Park’s Trail Ridge Road, which reaches a grand total of 12,183 feet high. The road, still covered in snow, brought gusts of wind that differed dramatically from the 80-degree weather down in town.
Next up, the group made their way down to the Cascade Falls Trail Head. The hike was roughly 2 miles, and included a spectacular view of the Rockies from the waterfall. The peaceful rocks perched on top of the waterfall made a perfect place to sit and enjoy a snack and soak up the view!
Afterward, the group made their way back to town to hang out at the KOA, and ended the night with a bonfire. The next morning, the group set out to the Estes Park Marina to end the trip canoeing on Lake Estes.
Even though some of these students have grown up Denver, few of the Interact students have ever had a chance to enjoy the mountains that surrounded them. Choose Outdoors and the Denver Mile High Rotary was honored to help support new experiences in the outdoors. Learn more about our summer camping trip in the video below:
- Atop Rotary Peak | Youth Outdoors
- Our Future Forests: Four Ways the Outdoor Recreation Community Can Help
- A Camping Trip with Denver Interact Club
- Remembering Jeff Lowe
- Choose Outdoors signs support letter for Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program extension
- Senators intro bill to double forest restoration funding
- Rocky Mountain PBS to air Colorado and Oregon episodes
- Rolling Stones Chuck Leavell, Governor Hickenlooper, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke Join Local Thought Leaders to Deliberate our National Forests
- Oregon to Provide the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in 2018
- Colorado Premier of America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell to air Jan. 25 on Rocky Mountain PBS