The Department of Agriculture has been around for nearly a century in the United States and within this department US citizens can find the Forest Service. The Forest Service exists for the benefit of the people of the United States. They provide recreation for the people and conservation for the land.
By providing recreational opportunities in the form of skiing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, hunting and fishing in order to help rejuvenate the mind, spirit and body the Forest Service focuses their effort on understanding all aspects of land management. It is also the job of the Forest Service Rangers and the other employees to ensure that the land maintained by the Forest Service is well taken care of for future generations to enjoy.
District Ranger Cathy Kahlow of the Salt Lake Ranger District has experience in protecting the land and ensuring its future recreational use. She has 28 years with the Forest Service, one and a half with the Salt Lake District. She finds that the recreation aspect of her job is one of the most challenging.
“The potential for abuse is enormous,” she said. “People may not realize what their cumulative effects of their desires may have on a resource.” For example, many hikers may have the idea that making a trail should be harmless but the trail “may cross paths that a species may use as their habitat.”
Other issues include the ruin of historical and archeological sites through a misunderstanding of use. On many of the US Forest Service Lands throughout the nation, Native American tribes have left their historical marks behind for historians and archeologists to find.
“Archeological sites can be found in caves where native people once dwelled. The people that once inhabited that land sometimes leave behind pictographs on the walls of the caves, which can teach people about these early Americans,” said Kahlow.
These sites can be damaged by people starting fires in the caves, causing the soot to coat the walls, damaging precious pictographs.
These sites often contain warnings to recreational users of forest service land to not disturb the site, to protect its historical value. The Forest Service monitors these areas and maintains them so that they may be enjoyed and archeologists, anthropologists and historians can study them.
As with many government agencies the tasks are enormous. The Forest Service Rangers and the other employees have many things they must do to maintain the land and educate the people about its use and instill into the population what they can do to take care of the land and enjoy it at the same time. Some examples are maintaining trails that have been determined as safe for the wildlife, their habitat and the local environment, watershed monitoring and education for the public, maintenance of campsites and sustaining the natural environment for future generations.
“There is a lot more to do than people to do it,” Kahlow said. “It’s about doing the right thing within the capabilities of your resources. You don’t want to ruin the very thing they [tourists, visitors etc.] are coming for.”
Forest Service work is done everyday in areas throughout Utah. The rangers and other employees of the Forest Service maintain these areas daily for the benefit of the people and the planet. To ensure the continued existence of these natural forests, wildlife and grazing areas, the Forest Service employs passionate people who love the land and work tirelessly to protect it.