The beavers are free and the greedheads aren’t
Scanning the international headlines and considering the multiple armed conflicts America is waging abroad, it would be easy to assume that our country, and the world, is truly going to hell in a handbasket.But looking through recent editions of The Aspen Times, we’ve found reasons for optimism on at least two counts. These things spurred us to hope that, despite challenging times, we as a nation are in fact on the right path.First were the May 25 convictions of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, the corporate criminals who steered the energy giant Enron first to dizzying heights and then straight into the ground, taking the life savings of many honest Americans with them. All too often in our justice system, moneyed defendants like Lay and Skilling seem able to buy their way out of trouble through the use of skilled lawyers who either clog the system with paperwork or baffle jurors with creative contortions of logic.Not so this time. The jury found the “smartest guys in the room” guilty of numerous counts of conspiracy and fraud, to the delight of millions of Americans who pay their bills and feed their families through honest means. We were ready for this verdict to leave us saddened and deflated, but the system prevailed and, quite honestly, gave us hope.Second was the May 31 news about the U.S. Forest Service deciding to leave a disruptive, destructive bunch of beavers alone. As the snow melted this spring, White River National Forest officials discovered that two popular hiking trails had been flooded, thanks to nearby beaver dams. Surprisingly, the officials are going to leave the dams in place and, in at least one case, probably reroute the trail.We recognize that the Capitol Creek trail and the Weller Lake trail won’t be the same – hikers are being advised to expect “primitive wilderness conditions” this summer on the Weller trail – but we’re happy federal land managers are choosing to back off.Not long ago, the dams would have been destroyed and the offending animals shot. Now, at least in some locations, an industrious beaver can create a pond and bother a few humans without risking life and limb.We take that as a good sign, that Americans are adopting more of a “live-and-let-live” philosophy toward wildlife and demanding the same from their federal land agencies.Maybe the world isn’t falling apart after all.
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