Sunday, January 26, 2014

Maple Syrup, Nature's Sweetener Unsurpassed

I pay the extra price for maple syrup, knowing it comes from a very unique source. The process to collect the syrup also inspires me to pay for that extra effort and quality control. The taste is like none other and one of the best sources of sweetness that nature can offer.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Time to Cull the Herd...Critter Counteroffensive...America Gone Wild...(recent headlines in Time and Wall St. Journal)

As our homes, towns, suburbs, cities, anywhere we live, have built out into the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), we have created millions of acres of "wildlife refuges" in this country. Throughout my life I have observed wildlife, hunted them, avoided them, studied them, worked with professional wildlife biologists, and dealt with "problem" wildlife. When I first started my forestry career with the City of Colorado Springs, we had a publication, Wildlife for your Backyard. The theme of this publication was how to "attract wildlife" to your backyard with the right kind of plants. Well, it's working. In addition, the WUI has become a safe, secure, and luscious place for the "once wild" animals of all types. In my lifetime, I have seen an evolution and transformation of the "wild animals" I have hunted, and observed in my neighborhoods. It isn't that often anymore that we see animals in the "wild". They are in/under our houses, in the backyards, in the open spaces, and on the roads of America. Like many of other Americans, I have run into animals on the roads and know others that have and gotten seriously injured or died. It's horrible to see how much wildlife we kill on our roadways alone. In Colorado for example, we kill an average of 514 animals on roads (reported kill: annually. I bet we can double that figure if we add the "unreported" animals killed.
One year not too long ago I drove from Colorado to the Dakotas and stopped trying to count how many dead deer, raccoons, badgers, birds, cats/dogs, and everything else along the roads.
Even though at times I have been scoffed at for "killing innocent animals...hunting that is", I have stopped to console drivers and wounded wildlife on roads I've traveled. The compassionate side of me weeps to see especially the deer "smashed" by our vehicles everyday. One day long before sunrise, I was on the passenger side of a friend's vehicle. We were driving a mostly wooded roadway on the west side of Colorado Springs. Without any warning AT ALL, out jumps a beautiful buck!! We slam into him and I don't want to give the details of what happened to that poor animal. It was scary and very sad. Not only was his life ended, there was significant damage to the vehicle.
Vehicles are like magnets to deer. If you are unlucky enough to hit an elk, say your prayers you won't be killed or seriously hurt. Not to mention what happens to the animal you will hit. I may "kill" animals, I prefer to consider it "harvest" animals, as a hunter, but seeing these animals killed and maimed on our roadways makes me sick and sad. There is hope. Colorado has a project in the works that other states have already adopted. This project will become the norm, in my opinion: Some examples of wildlife over/underpasses:


   The high dollar damage tally and the killed and maimed tally is HUGE across this country.
See TIME magazine, December 9, 2013:,9171,2158676,00.html . David Von Drehle does an excellent job of covering the very controversial dilemma we face in America as to "how to" and "why to" deal with wildlife that are now living "with us".
Other headlines (Wall Street Journal: AMERICA GONE WILD and CRITTER COUNTEROFFENSIVE).
Yes, we have built our homes and cities into the wilds of America, but now we have created "refuges" that in general are "hands off". This is not management, it is blind mismanagement.
Where I live, it is against our COVENANTS to hunt any animals. To boot, we live in the woods and still NO HUNTING!! The elk roam around the mountain and destroy countless trees/shrubs each year and the deer the same. As each year passes, there are more and more animals. As they say in wildlife management circles: we have surpassed the "carrying capacity" of the land with these animals.

  In my career as a natural resource professional, I have dealt with beavers chewing down the urban forest with no or little control; mountain lions and bear; raccoons in the home; pocket gophers destroying the roots of trees/shrubs; woodpeckers hammering away at the side of the house; and much more. Pest control in America is big business and highly regulated.
What to do? That is not only the question, it is the start to action.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Why Manage Our Forests?...see what Al Murray has to say...

Al Murray, forester out of Wisconsin, has prepared an opinion on why we "manage", or at least "need to manage" our woodlands.
I too, as an avid outdoorsman, hunter, fisher, etc. share this observation.
Thanks for the thoughts Al!