Campsite Crashers.~ Alpine Lily

If a tree falls in a forest and there is nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?

What about when a tree falls onto a tent filled with blissfully unaware campers?

This is the question being addressed by the Forest Service as summer-time approaches, camping gear around the state gets dusted off and foresters begin to evaluate which recreational areas in Colorado have been the most affected by the beetle epidemic that is ravaging the forests.

As snow begins to melt, campsites are being scrutinized as foresters determine which sites are safe and which sites will need to be closed. Red Feather Lakes in Boulder County became the first area affected with the closure of the Dowdy Lake campground. The Colorado front range  can get VERY windy and understandably the Forest Service is concerned beetle-kill trees (that are more prone to wind damage) will start tumbling down, with potentially fatal consequences.

But not everybody agrees that closing camping areas is the best response to these potential threats.

Both Colorado and Wyoming’s governors have urged caution in closing forests and feel that this is a drastic reaction by the forest service. Presumably, their concern lies with the affect that campsite closures would create for the local tourism industries. They are not alone in their concerns either- the Greater Yellowstone Coalition is concerned that closures will distance the public from outdoor recreation opportunities, that will ultimately result in apathy regarding wilderness areas and a decrease in awareness and funding in the future. However, mountain communities do not see the closures as a big threat to their tourist season, since previously closed areas will be re-opened this season.

The Forest Service, however, is primarily concerned with the safety of both campers and their own employees, citing several recent “near misses” as evidence of the danger. Their approach has been to close the most used areas that are affected by the beetle epidemic and ensure they have been safely thinned before re-opening them for public use.

This is in contrast to the National Parks Service, which is also affected by the beetle epidemic, but has said that popular areas (such as Rocky Mountain National Park) will not be affected by any closures this upcoming season.

However, along with the danger of falling trees, the areas affected by beetle-kill are also more prone to fire danger,which is a much greater danger throughout the season. A wildfire started by a spark from a carelessly attended fire  seems much more likely than a tree crushing a camper, and to be honest, has the potential for much more damage and fatalities.

So what do you think? Are falling trees just another high country hazard that comes with the territory when recreating in Colorado? Or is the Forest Service responsible for creating a safe public environment, even when that means closing public areas?



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hemp, hemp milk, dairy alternatives, wellness, traditional medicine

“So… do you milk hemp” asks my father…..obviously sarcastically but also somewhat mockingly. I roll my eyes, throw up my hands and give up trying to explain to my family why I am going to attempt to make hemp milk at home.

But they are not alone in their teasing. Roommates, friends and even my fiance’s parents have teased me about my burgeoning interested hemp milk and other dairy alternatives including rice and almond milks.

I am not lactose intolerant, nor am vegan. I love cheese more than (almost) anything on this planet. But I also happen to enjoy a hemp-milk chai in the morning also.

What really confuses me is that these are not trendy new foods made famous by a skinny starlet-these items have been staples of diets around the world for centuries[1].

In South Africa, babies are weaned on a hemp-based cereal, in China roasted hemp seeds are sold in movie theaters and throughout history the benefits of hemp oil has been touted in traditional medicine. Almond milk has been used throughout the world since the Middle Ages (it was recommended as a milk substitute during fasting days) and rice milk has used as a substitute for those with lactose intolerance for years.

So why is there so much ignorance surrounding these options given that we live in a time in which it seems everyone is obsessed with avoiding pesticides and hormones in their foods?

Have we become so distanced from our food that we no longer remember the foods that fed out ancestors for centuries?

[1] Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, Udo Erasmus, Alive Books, December 1993

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Filed under Wellness