Earlier last month I witnessed someone fell a tree in the Eagles Nest Wilderness while I was on a backpack trip. Its quite obvious that you're not supposed to cut down trees in a national forest, in this particular wilderness fires are also prohibited. I hadn't any idea how to deal with this group of individuals. I feel that yelling at them would have done no good, as its obvious that what they were doing was wrong and they knew it.

Should I have reported these individuals? I had no way to identify them, and its hard to track who was even in the area during that time frame.

Should I have said something? Threatened to report them? Or is it best to just let it happen, because it seems there's not much that can be done.

It really upsets me to see someone do something so detrimental to a protected area. Its such an obvious trace of human presence. I've heard this has become a big problem in the Maroon-Bells Snowmass Wilderness, which isn't far from where I was hiking.

  • 1
    For what it's worth, logging is allowed (with a permit) in many national forests. Usually in a wilderness area there's no logging allowed. You may want to inquire with the rangers to see if it's legal or not.
    – Eric
    Aug 11, 2015 at 6:11
  • There is a sign before you get to the lake specifying no fires, which they clearly had. I feel like if they had broken the rules, they weren't about to abide by them and getting a permit for wood collection. This is in a mountainous area, and I'm fairly certain removing wood is restricted in this area.
    – tsturzl
    Aug 11, 2015 at 6:19
  • 3
    people who fall down trees have axes. I would not threaten someone that has an axe in their hand.
    – njzk2
    Aug 14, 2015 at 16:33
  • @njzk2 Had certainly crossed my mind. I hadn't approached them for this reason, and the fact that I was outnumbered and alone.
    – tsturzl
    Aug 14, 2015 at 20:24
  • Let them alone. The forest is a lonely place and the law is far away.
    – bobbym
    Sep 6, 2016 at 16:58

1 Answer 1


It boils down to the point what one could really do in such a situation. When I trek in India, I do come across such situations that beg some action from me and other sensitive people around. I define scope of 'what can I do' as following:

  1. Don't be outnumbered!:
    If we are outnumbered, I will rather opt to report it to the authority, without threatening the guys doing it. I would also consider taking pictures of the deed and the doer, preferably without they noticing me doing so.
  2. If they are being outnumbered by us, and they are unarmed: Yes, you can save a tree. Approach them with a sense of unity, warn them for what they are up to and what you can do about it. A bit of controlled but false aggression helps at times like this, at least it worked for me. A fictitious or unreal friend of yours working in the concerned authoritative organization just might do the trick.

For immediate results, the second options works best. But then again, you avoided an incident, that doesn't really alarm the authorities about possibility of happening it again.

For long term results, whether you chose to act and somehow managed to stop them, or just saw the incidence, whatever the case, report it at the concerned legal authority. With an increased number of such alarms, authorities will be a bit more keener about controlling such deeds.

  • 3
    In this particular instance I was alone. I often hike alone, as its how I get away and reset. The group was a young boisterous group(though I'm young as well, I'm typically respectful). I like the recommendation of taking a picture of them and reporting them, as I usually have some kind of camera on me(at least my phone). Had I been with a group of people I feel direct confrontation would have been the best, as it may have prevented any further unethical actions.
    – tsturzl
    Aug 11, 2015 at 19:17

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