David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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Tree Murder


I’m not an ecologist or a lawyer, but I know it’s wrong to cut trees in my mountains without an awfully good reason.

Along my little dirt road in the last few weeks someone has been cutting trees and hauling them away for fire wood. Several of my neighbors were concerned about it, but surprisingly, they weren’t concerned about the loss of wood as a commodity. They understand the fragile nature of our environment, and they worry much more about how long it will take a replacement to grow than about the dollar value of the stolen trees. For reasons which are still unclear to me, I was elected to talk to the person who was known to have cut the trees.

His response was in two parts. First, he said, he hadn’t cut any of my trees. Second, he said, he’s been doing it for years—just clearing away dead trees. The way he told it, he was doing the environment a favor. People who rape the landscape always seem to fall back on this line of reasoning.

It’s a little like the infamous officer who said, in Vietnam, that a village had to be destroyed in order to save it.

So it is that every thief who cuts a tree, whether for fuel or for Christmas, is willing to state that in doing so he does the landscape an invaluable service. As though the landscape wasn’t doing okay before he arrived on the scene.

The man who cut these trees has been here a number of years, but there is a fact buried here which deserves the light of day; a person who treats the land like this has no commitment to it. Someone committed to living here would not kill an animal or pull up a flower, or cut down a tree, mine or his, without an excellent reason. Those who do otherwise, no matter how long they have been here, are just transients, who, like some tourists, have no commitment to the land. A person who loves this place feels every snapped tree limb and mourns every road killed animal.

There was a time when a man or woman could roam these hills in winter and kill what he liked, be it animal or vegetable, without censure. Indeed, one might have done that only 26 years ago along my road. In those days, only one individual, Bill Waite, lived all alone, without running water, in a one room cabin on Big Owl Road.

Those days are gone.

Today, 10 families, including Bill Waite, live along this one mile piece of road, and most of the things you could get away with 26 years ago will now get you a talk with your friendly deputy sheriff because your neighbors will call him and report you.

Mostly, though, it seems to be in a good cause.

Most of the activity seems to be centered around the preservation of the animal and vegetable life, in recognition of the fact that all of us are just passing through.

George R. Stewart may have said it best: “Men come and go, but earth abides.” [Bill Waite is gone and the miscreant packed up and left long ago. Sometimes I get things right.]




© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI



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