Forest Abuse

It's a sad reality that we abuse our national forests, those gems that belong to us all and to future generations. We're all guilty of something abusive, even if "only" cutting a switchback. I'm used to picking up the litter of trail runners and hikers, although I don't often see it: the occasional candy wrapper or energy gel container dropped by mistake when on the move. I pick it up and haul it out, hoping that should I accidentally and unknowingly drop something, someone of like mind will haul it out for me.

Here, however, I too often see the sort of litter that evidences a deliberate disregard for and abuse of the forest: beer cans (usually Bud Lite); cigarette cartons and butts (Marlboro Lights, as shown in the photo taken yesterday), food cans and wrappers. Also, I frequently see items left by lazy hunters, such as shell casings and the boxes they come in (see photos), and perhaps worst of all, deer or elk carcasses dumped in black plastic bags that quickly get ripped open by the foxes and coyotes who strew the remains over a large area.

I took all five of these photos yesterday on a road barely a quarter mile within the forest boundary. I see the same thing in any area of the forest accessible to motorized vehicles. On a hike with the girls this morning, I hauled out one of those purple and yellow "Support Our Troops" magnetic ribbons popular on the backs of many vehicles.

I'd love to see hunters making regular trash collecting forays into the forest to clean up after each other. I'm not holding my breath.

The other sort of forest abuse that I see is the eager hunter who drives into the forest before the roads have adequately soaked up the snow melt, causing huge gutters and gashes in the native dirt roads, gashes that quickly dry into permanent troughs that make hiking, running or even driving almost impossible for long stretches. Four wheelers don't cause nearly as much damage as the full size pickups I see regularly patrolling the roads for turkey, bear or whatever other game is in season. Since when did hunting become a wheeled and motorized sport? Why is it OK to cause such obvious damage to the roads? Is that part of hunting "ethics?"

These are the same people the government of Idaho assures the federal government can be trusted to manage the forests and the creatures found within them, such as wolves and grizzlies, elk and deer, cougar and bear, turkey and other fowl; people who already show an alarming disregard for these amazing natural resources they have and abuse their privilege to hunt within the forest by trashing it. Sorry, but I don't trust them.