Author Topic: Are We Loving the Outdoors to Death?  (Read 210 times)

Offline AvenueQ

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Are We Loving the Outdoors to Death?
« on: October 11, 2017, 03:20:16 PM »
Interesting article in a local magazine today, and something that's applicable in many other places: Are We Loving Colorado's Wild Places to Death?

I think most people here are pretty responsible and conscientious of their impact in the wild, though we could always use a reminder (I know I do). The article talks about some possible consequences: requiring permits (paid or unpaid) for hiking, closing off certain areas, fines and fees to cover rehab costs. I'm not really sure what the "right" answer is, but I do know I have noticed MANY of the bad behaviors outlined in the article, especially in the last couple of years. There's definitely pros and cons to each remedy, I'm curious what you guys think.

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: Are We Loving the Outdoors to Death?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 06:27:47 AM »
I have been hiking and camping in the Pacific Northwest since the 1960s.  There are a TON more people getting outside more frequently these days.  Easy access is the key issue.  Public places should be easy for ALL the public to get to right?  That was fine when most people were happy to drive 30-500 miles, check into a managed campground for a few days and drive home.  Now, people want to also do extensive hiking, biking, adventuring, kayaking, trail running, and on and on.  Even hunting went from one season for rifle, to multiple seasons for rifle, handgun, black powder and archery, with sometimes more seasons added on (though shorter). We probably have 2.5-3 times the population we did in the 1960s.

The one thing I have seen which greatly reduces the number of people in an area is distance from parking lot.  I used to do a lot of 20-30 mile day hikes.  I found after the first five miles I would encounter very few people, even if the trailhead was jam packed.  And MOST people venturing out past 5 miles from parking lot are responsible caretakers of the trails and environs.  It is the easy to get to places where bus loads of tourists get dropped off you find trampled alpine meadows, food wrappers, and the like.

I would like to see more segmenting of park areas.  Design the entry areas for high use, and only extend the easy access (wide paved or gravel trails) as far in as you can afford to maintain the clean up frequently and well.  Put in more barriers on trails to prevent frolicking in those alpine meadows that take a century to recover, if at all. Then leave anything beyond what you can afford to vigorously maintain to much more rustic trails that only serious outdoors people will pursue.

Basically, we have to be realistic with our available park budgets and use them to design for easy access/high use areas, and low maintenance/low use extended areas.
There have always been times like this, and there will be again. Will we rise to the challenges or get run over?

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: Are We Loving the Outdoors to Death?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 10:26:18 AM »
The one thing I have seen which greatly reduces the number of people in an area is distance from parking lot.

That's true, one of our favorite campgrounds has a 1/2 mile hike in, and it's incredible how many people even that short of a hike deters, though usage has still increased a lot. I've seen it go from a walk-in campground, to reservations required, to reservations required plus camping restrictions in the short 6 years I've lived here (it's still free, but you have to drive to the county building and sign up for a permit in advance. It's a well-maintained campground so I'm definitely willing to put in the effort). It's funny, the article mentions that using hammocks is more environmentally friendly than tents, but that's one of the restrictions at this campground now: no hammocks. I think people are tying them improperly and girdling trees, and since the usage has increased so much it became a real problem.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Are We Loving the Outdoors to Death?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 10:39:35 AM »
This is topical around Puget Sound for sure.  I can't recall which trail it was, but the local NPR station had a piece one a popular trail < 20 miles east of Seattle that had over 500K hikers this past summer.  That's one of the few trails that measures usage, and it's increasing 10% or more each year.

This is one of several civic/regional planning issues that is rather schizophrenic to me.

"Come to Seattle.  We have lots of high paying jobs, and access to nature/outdoor activities."

I work for a large employer in the area, and within my team I'm the ONLY person of 30+ people who grew up here.  The rest are either foreign born or relocated for work from some other state.
When I comment how much the skyline has changed in just the past decade, people look at me like I'm referencing 1960.

I think the amount and rate of transplanted residence is not helping.  While it's great that Tony who relocated from Boston loves to ski, canoe and hike, he has no baseline for what these activities used to be like years before.
He did not grow up with these resources and stewardship may not be something he fully grasps yet. Likewise with traffic.  Californians don't notice a problem, because it's less bad then what they are used to.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Are We Loving the Outdoors to Death?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2017, 09:08:20 PM »
He did not grow up with these resources and stewardship may not be something he fully grasps yet. Likewise with traffic.  Californians don't notice a problem, because it's less bad then what they are used to.

I think that is the biggest problem.  Very few people are raised today to take care of things, not their own, not someone else's, and not "nobody's".
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