Ron and Sharon Eichelberger, Outfitters

Alpine, Arizona

Paul Bunyan the lumberjack made a living out of harvesting trees. But healthy forests provide a living for many, many other people, like New Mexico residents Ron and Sharon Eichelberger.

What do you do?

Ron and Sharon Eichelberger:

I have owned and operated Ponderosa Outfitters and Guide Service for the past 23 years in Arizona and New Mexico. We hunt big game, mostly elk and bighorn sheep, in the fall and do fishing, pack trips and trail riding during the summer. I enjoy these summer trips the most. It gives me the opportunity to just be in the back country on my mules with clients who, many times, have never experienced getting away from city life and enjoying the beauty of our forests. I also have to admit that the stress level is much lower than trying to find that trophy animal for your client to harvest.

How does a healthy forest help you earn a living?

Ron and Sharon Eichelberger:

My business depends on a healthy forest. It promotes healthy and abundant wildlife populations. To me a major objective of any trip, whether it be hunting or sight seeing, is to make sure the client enjoys “just being there”. I can do my part but I like to see a forest that has an overstory that allows sunlight to the ground, meadows, streams and a tree density of 40 to 60 per acre.

What do you hope for the future of your forest?

Ron and Sharon Eichelberger:

I would hope that recent catastrophic fire events have made people realize that there needs to be a change from past forest management practices - that fire is needed and should not only not always be suppressed, but be promoted on a controlled basis. That logging is a viable method of forest management to control over-density of trees. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief these days, saving every tree is a recipe for disaster. That cattle grazing also contributes to a healthy forest. I am encouraged by what I see as being a shift in forest management practices (to a certain extent) from our forest managers, although there is still much room for improvement.


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