The real choice on Smuggler Mountain
I need to hike up the Smuggler trail. I want to see it before it gets logged. There’s a bunch of people who want to log it, and they’re stampeding the Aspen government to let them. They say the choice is hiking among dead trees or live trees. The real choice is hiking among live trees and dead trees or hiking among live trees and tree stumps.
They are also playing the fear monger’s card. They say those dead trees are dangerous and might fall on some one. That chance is very low. If all the trees were dead on that trail, the chance of one falling on someone is much less than getting hit by lightning. If you’re afraid of a tree falling on you in the woods, you best stay out of the woods. I once spent the night in the Flat Tops during a blow down, listening to trees break and then crash to the ground. My biggest worry was not being hit by a tree, but that the tent would not survive the wind and my wife and I would have to do something to remain dry. The tent endured and the next morning we saw that the mature, inflexible trees were the ones that broke and most of the younger trees were still standing. One should not fear falling trees. One should fear lightning. One should fear drivers on Highway 82.
The folks in Aspen don’t have a monopoly on fear mongering. Fear mongering is alive and well in Basalt, too. Around Basalt, the town is busy cutting old trees and snags for fear one might fall and injure someone. They are busy turning Old Pond Park, which was supposed to be a natural wild park, into an urban landscape. In the 30 years I’ve lived here, I’ve yet to hear of someone hurt by a falling tree. These old trees and snags provide habitat for cavity nesting birds. Egregiously, an old tree with nesting woodpeckers was cut down at the end of Swinging Bridge Lane. The trees replacing old natives are now “cultivars” ” species such as cotton-less cottonwoods so no one will have to deal with messy nature. Box Elders, which are a boon to birds, are not even on the list of recommended trees.
The ‘For the Forest’ people don’t like us to use the word logging. But they want to cut trees on Smuggler. To me if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. It’s logging.
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