Our Future Forests: Four Ways the Outdoor Recreation Community Can Help

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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.

 

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