As a former ranger in the Weminuche Wilderness for San Juan National Forest, I was ecstatic to learn of the agency rescinding the approval to use chain saws in the wilderness area to clear trails.
I applaud the organizations, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Wilderness Watch, and the San Juan Citizens Alliance for their quick action to bring this matter to the attention of the public. Now, more than ever, the public needs to get involved and speak up in matters of our public lands.
As the remaining wild country shrinks in our nation, we must remember Aldo Leopold’s view that we belong to a community on this Earth, and in consequence, we owe a duty.
Working as a wilderness ranger, I became intimate with the traditional cross cut saw to clear trees and found beauty, efficiency, and satisfaction in this tool. I personally feel that the demands of forest management cannot be met with current staffing cuts and budget decreases over the years. We must rethink, collaborate and be patient to mitigate the issues the San Juan National Forest is facing presently and for the future.
Yet we must still maintain the high standards of the Wilderness Act that makes the Weminuche Wilderness unique. We must remember, as Edward Abbey states, “The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.”