Summit Daily letters to the editor: Befriend your forest | SummitDaily.com

Summit Daily letters to the editor: Befriend your forest

Befriend your forest

I'm usually an early riser, one of the curses of getting older. But the upside is being outside early and being awed every morning by the beauty of Summit County.

Most of us moved here and our visitors come here to experience that beauty and to play in the woods. And therein is the problem: We're loving our National Forest to death, and, as has been widely reported in the Summit Daily, our local Dillon Ranger District is suffering from ever decreasing money and manpower to keep up with the pressures all us players are imposing on the forest. So what's the answer? It has to be us. Here's why I think that's the case:

• If not us — the folks who live here and use the forest — then who? Those of who use the trails have an obligation to help keep them maintained and open for ourselves and future users.

• If you're a mountain biker like me or a motorized user, trails are automatically closed to us unless they are specifically designated as open to us. So that means we need a seat at the table and credibility with the Dillon Ranger District to have a say in what's open and closed. What better way than to be involved and to get to know the U.S. Forest Service folks.

• Trail work and other volunteer jobs are fun. Yes, it can be hot, hard, and dirty, but you get to spend time doing something rewarding with folks of a similar bent and have a lot of laughs along the way. You'll never forget the trail work you've done, and, each time you hike or bike a trail you worked on, you'll remember with pride all you did.

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• If you run a business or manage a group of folks, what better way to have a great team-building day while doing something meaningful.

So how can you get involved? There are a number of nonprofits that provide ample opportunities for you to volunteer.

• Friends of the Dillon Ranger District (FDRD) is the local non-profit partner of the Forest Service. FDRD has a wide range of trail work, forest restoration, educational hikes, Ranger patrol and other activities you can volunteer for. See their website at fdrd.org.

• Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness (FENW) are the local partner concentrating on wilderness management and maintenance. See their website at FENW.org.

• Friends of Breckenridge Trails. The town of Breckenridge sponsors several days each summer of trail building for the public. See their website at townofbreckenridge.com, and look under departments for Open Space and Trails.

• Summit County's Open Space and Trails sponsors volunteer events throughout the summer. Find them on the web under Summit County, Colorado government.

This is the most caring community we've lived in, and many of our residents do awesome volunteer work for all manner of organizations. If not now involved in helping with our forest, please plug in a day to do so. And to the many who do already, a huge thank you.

Wayne Haley

Dillon

Thank you, Senator Bennet

I am writing to thank Senator Michael Bennet for his new Camp Hale National Historic Landscape proposal. This is an exciting proposal for Colorado that would provide 23,000 acres of land that would be protected from development. All of the recreation that happens on this land will continue to provide enjoyment for all Coloradans and our visitors. This area is incredible for hiking, mountain biking, climbing, hunting, fishing, camping, skiing, snowmobiles, ATV's and four-wheel drive vehicles.

Camp Hale has amazing historical value, where during World War II, 14,000 10th Mountain troops trained. Many of these courageous soldiers returned from World War II to start our ski industry.

What a great way to honor their service by preserving the place in which they fell in love with the outdoors. This is an exciting proposal that will be a great addition to the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act proposed by Congressman Polis.

Living in Colorado, we are so lucky to have these amazing public places to recreate and enjoy. It is very fitting that we preserve Camp Hale and the surrounding area as tribute to the 10th Mountain soldiers who fought for our right to enjoy these public lands.

Kevin Höchtl

Vail