Being a Good Steward

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

The recent passing of The Great American Outdoor Act is a great step towards ensuring our national parks and public spaces will have the funding required for their continued maintenance. This piece of legislation dedicates up to $1.9 billion per year for up to 5 years in order to play catch up with the 5,500 miles of paved roads, 17,000 miles of trails, and 24,000 buildings in our national parks that are in need of maintenance improvements.

Our federal government established the National Park Service in 1916 and, in a sense, have a sort of obligation to ensure these public spaces will be there for future generations to enjoy. The obligation is to make sure that access is maintained and people can feel safe while recreating in these treasured areas. But how about maintaining the natural beauty of the resource? Who's responsible for picking up litter, cleaning graffiti and other unsightly things we leave in the wilderness.

We as outdoor enthusiasts have as much, or more, responsibility and obligation to maintain our national, state and local parks. We are the people that interact with these spaces on a regular basis. We see the degradation in real time and have all the power to correct these issues in real time. There are wonderful examples all across the nation of individuals banding together and spending their personal time rehabilitating the places that they love.

We've been lucky enough to do podcast episodes with a couple of people that started a grassroots campaign to clean and maintain natural spaces here in Colorado. Marcus Trusty, creator of CORE, spearheaded the effort to maintain the back-country 4x4 trails that he grew up on as a child. They repair damaged roads, coordinate the creation of new trails, educate individuals on the safe and proper ways to 4x4 as well as help with Search and Rescue when the time arises. His dedication has led to the adoption of 13 trails in Central Colorado and thorough coordination with local and state governments to come up with plans that will be cost effective and keep these trails accessible. To listen to this podcast episode, click here.

More recently, Stephen Singer started a Facebook page called Keeping Colorado Beautiful!. Stephen began to notice that there were hiking areas near his home that were being covered in graffiti. He couldn't tolerate the idea of the beautiful hiking trails near him being defaced with colorful spray paint. Instead of complaining and walking past it he took matters into his own hands. He researched removal methods, got approval from the park service department and began the hard work of removing all of this paint. His Facebook group is less then 3 months old and is approaching 2,000 members. They have removed graffiti from numerous sites and are being featured in local news. His podcast episode will be airing toward the end of September.

Naturally, these are a couple of the more outstanding cases of individuals doing great things but you can do your part. When you are gathering your hiking or fishing gear, throw in a couple of grocery sacks or garbage bags. When you see a piece of trash, pick it up and put it in that bag. I have started doing this and every time I go somewhere I bring back at least one bag full of garbage. If you get into this habit, you will be surprised at how large of an impact you can have on the natural areas near you.

If you have a conservation group and would like to talk about the work you do, please email 12 Hike at We'd love to talk to you!

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