I would like to introduce myself, Tom Koehler founder of Sustainable Skier-Hiker driven toward taking care of the environment and our most valuable natural wonders. Take a journey this winter with Tom's Sustainable Skier Series designed to let you know about our land and environment and how you can participate in its care and healing.
When you come to visit us this winter you will not only be visiting Summit County and our ski areas, you will be visiting your public land. While mainly a western phenomenon as most public land is in the western part of the US, it is important to know that it is for all of us to enjoy.
The first public lands were established back in 1781 when about 1.8 billion acres were absorbed by the Federal Government. Eventually 2/3 were sold off to private interests while 1/3 were set aside for national parks and monuments, national forests, wildlife preserves etc.
The ski areas here in Summit County actually operate on public land that is National Forest and pay a special permit fee to the US Forest Service (USFS) in order to operate for profit and hopefully for your enjoyment. While there are understandably restrictions on the land they operate on, the areas beyond the ski areas are mostly yours. 80% of this county is public land and is managed by the USFS which means you are free to hunt, fish, hike, camp, bike all to your hearts content within reasonable guidelines.
That is powerful and something that can provide a sense of cohesion for all Americans who want to enjoy the outdoors to their fullest expression or the simplest of picnics on a breezy afternoon. As I mentioned in a recent blog there are ways to take care of our land and will continue to provide sensible ways to do so when you are out there enjoying the beauty of the land.
For our public lands to sustain, we should also be mindful of attempts to roll back public land protection in spite of the overwhelming evidence that the economies surrounding public land do very well. Beyond the pure economics, public land embodies the "ideal" that any citizen should have access to trails, rivers and mountains for their enjoyment and is truly inspiring.
“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.” - Speech by Theodore Roosevelt in Osawatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910.
In this spirit, the Sustainable Skier series will watch for policies that are not in the best interests of our land for most stakeholders and will provide timely updates and links that will allow you to take action according to your conscious.