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Beyond the Trail: Join the Movement to Preserve our Beloved National Forests

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By: Tom Koehler – Sustainable Hiker

Summit County local, Tom Koehler, has helped care for Colorado’s outdoors for years as a volunteer with outdoor stewardship organizations including Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and many others. Now, he has founded Sustainable Hiker to inspire others to care for the health and sustainability of water and forests in the Blue River Watershed and beyond.

Learn more about the Sustainable Hiker and how you can help our national forest by watching this video. 

The weather here is ever-changing and it is very important that we all act responsibly as we utilize all that the national forest has to offer.

I anxiously look forward to another season as a proud steward of our land and water through trail and eco-restoration projects. Many volunteers give what we can on the ground to restore our heavily used land much within all our National Forests and over tapped waters.

Over the last few years, my appreciation for our natural resources was heightened while engaged on many volunteer projects with Friends of the Dillon Ranger District (FDRD), Volunteers For Outdoor Colorado (VOC), Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI), and Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV).

We work passionately to rejuvenate our natural assets, and through these magnificent – and at times unrecognized – efforts, satisfaction and an even deeper passion for the landscape with its beauty and ecological power rose within me.

Recognizing the value in the trail system for recreation and health, and our most treasured riparian zones for our water and wildlife, I contemplated if there was anything else that I, or any of us, could be doing beyond the trail and decided emphatically that we can.

I began to acquaint myself with legislation that promotes funding and protections for the public land we take care of on the ground as well as clean water bills that foster healthy rivers and streams, the ones that we help on stream bank restoration projects.

The pollution and emissions that adversely affects the air- and water-filtering properties inherent in our soil and plants began to resonate, so I began to contribute more time to helping the High Country Conservation Center here in Summit County. Their organization leads the efforts in the county for businesses and individuals to become more energy and water efficient, which in turn helps our forests and rivers.

As the dots between the environment all around us and the work we do with the land and water began to connect with me, I wondered what else I could explore in this journey to heal and rejuvenate our eco-system. Sustainable Hiker was born out of this journey. Over time, I aim to bring awareness to all work that helps the land and water we love and need, from stewardship and conservation to advocacy for our natural resources and environmental initiatives.

I work with companies around Summit County to push more sustainable methods of transportation, tourism and more. I began partnering with Peak 1 Express, as they help eliminate up to 13 cars for every trip they take to and from the airport. There are a number of actions we can take to improve our public lands, and if each of us try to play our role in sustainability we will get a lot closer to helping the land and water we love.

Let’s all continue to seek ways to support the outdoors including the vastly important trail and eco-system work. I look forward to sharing the various sustainable paths in the months and years to come with you to protect our most valuable assets.

To learn more about the sustainable hiker visit the website here.