Beyond the trail

As the snow begins to melt in the high country, I anxiously look forward to another season as a proud steward of our land and water engaged in trail and eco-restoration projects. Many volunteers give what they can on the ground restoring our heavily used land and over-tapped waters.

I contemplated over the years as a dedicated volunteer, if there was anything else I or any of us could be doing beyond the trail and decided emphatically that we can.

We work passionately to rejuvenate our natural assets and here are a few ideas on how we can do even more beyond the trail to complement our impactful work.

A. Acquaint yourself with current legislation that promotes healthy rivers, streams and environmental initiatives that help lessen the effects of pollution and Green House Gas emission on our natural assets. For instance, there are bills in Colorado that address river health, electric vehicle infrastructure expansion, and public land protection and in time funding.

B. Lower your Greenhouse Gas emissions anyway that you can such as carpooling or taking more sustainable forms of travel when you visit the towns surrounding your National Forest. The Summit Stage bus system here in Summit Count is free and gets you most places easily. Excessive GHG emissions have contributed to longer and more severe wildfire seasons. Our forests health is in jeopardy. 

C. You can do this personally and by encouraging the companies you work for and frequent to do the same. Put them in touch with the local conservation non-profits such as High Country Conservation Center here in Summit County to get advice on energy audits for energy efficiency. Non-energy efficient residences and commercial buildings are big contributors to GHG.

D. Get involved with your town council to commit to higher renewable energy for your electric energy needs. Coal still represents roughly 50% of our electric utility power generation in Colorado. The burning of coal is considered highly injurious to the environment we love.

E. Begin to look at your investments to make sure the companies you are invested in are not at odds with the job you are doing healing our land. Companies making a real effort toward reducing their carbon footprint in their operations and engaging in water efficiency should rank higher while those that do not should be sold.

I look forward to sharing more specific ideas on each of these and more areas on how we can all help the environment and the health of our natural assets that many laboriously steward each year.

Sincerely, Tom Koehler Sustainable Hiker

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