I spent a few weeks this summer visiting Alaska, called by many “the last frontier.” It is an amazing state, populated by scenic venues and from what I could tell generally friendly people.
It is also an environmentally friendly and extremely clean state. Everywhere we stopped there were messages about recycling and taking care of and protecting the environment. And I didn’t see any trash anywhere, despite the crush of tourists that head to the state at this time of the year.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about my hometown of Woodland Park and Colorado these days in general. Residents and tourists alike now seem to have forgotten what made this part of the world so spectacular: a clean environment that everyone could enjoy.
These days you can hike or walk in just about any trail or neighborhood and come back with a sack full of trash, ranging from paper wrappers to cigarette butts. And the nearby forests and parks appear to be the dumping ground of choice for used appliances, worn tires and so on.
Locally, groups such as Focus on the Forest do an amazing job with limited resources to call attention to the trash problem and to actually help clean up the mess. Woodland Park holds an annual city-wide cleanup where volunteers canvas the community and make a temporary dent in what seems to me to be a growing problem.
But maybe we need to develop more of the Alaskan mindset. A clean environment is really a resource that we can’t afford to squander. And Alaska doesn’t have to be the last or only clean frontier.