When I wrote my last article on the dangers of over promoting the Adirondack Park, I knew I was sticking my head out for a possible sound thrashing. Many of the Adirondack Almanack commenters did not disappoint me in this regard.
Unfortunately, the point of my article seemed to get lost in all the anger and angst, so I thought I would give it another go-around and try to explain my original idea a little better. This gives those who missed out at taking a whack at me last time another chance.
Along the way, I will attempt to address some of the many comments from the article. Inevitably, this will probably get me in even more trouble. If this proves to be the case, I can always create an alias or wear a disguise the next time I visit the Adirondacks.
Initially, I struggled with the idea of responding to the many critical comments on the article since the writing should speak for itself. With so many commenters misinterpreting the article, not to mention the insulting, condescending and disparaging remarks, I felt I had no choice but produce a follow-up to set the record straight. Rather than answering each comment individually, with all the inevitable redundancy, I decided to address all my concerns in a single post. Unfortunately, I fear few of the scornful commenters will ever bother to read this, as they most likely wrote me off as a lost cause already.
As I read the comments on my original article, I started thinking the author was a real jerk. He proposes shutting down tourism in the Adirondacks, taking away people’s jobs, destroying their quality of life and even wishes to rob them of the opportunity to have healthy teeth and gums! He even dared to mock such places as Old Forge, Lake George and Lake Placid. I was ready to grab my pitchfork, light a torch and join the stampeding mob, before realizing many of these claims were spurious – at best!
The original article’s genesis began with a phone interview by a reporter interested in tourism in the Adirondack Park. Even though I warned him that I was not an expert on the topic, he remained interested in hearing my opinion on the matter. After the twenty-minute conversation, which I am sure I gave him nothing of value, I started thinking about the idea of increasing tourism in the Adirondacks, and whether or not this is a worthwhile goal.
My intention was to write a personal commentary on a portion of the tourism debate that I feel gets short shrift. In other words, when is enough, enough? How much tourism is desirable in the Adirondacks? What type of tourism? How will it be distributed within the Park? And, most importantly, how will this tourism affect the natural ecosystems? Many of these questions appear to get lost in the flurry to do something, anything to help out those within the Blue Line.
Unfortunately, I did not explicitly state much of this in the article, favoring subtlety over lucidity. Given my status as a lowly blogger, not a politician, reporter, business leader or in any way someone yielding influence or power within the Adirondacks, I thought it unnecessary to state the obvious.
Apparently, I was mistaken, as the purpose of the article seemed entirely lost on many. The original article was not a complete, “fair and balanced” feature about the nature of tourism in the Adirondacks. It was just a personal commentary about the notion of promoting the Adirondacks too much, more philosophical in tone, rather than a treatise on the nature of tourism.
In fact, the article in no way represented the totality of my own thoughts on the topic. As Pete Nelson pointed out in his recent finely written Lost Brook Dispatch, I too am of more than one mind on the topic of tourism and development within the Adirondacks. Although in my case, the environmentalist/conservationist/preservationist side has the upper hand, with a full grasp on my heart, as well as sharing my brain with its polar opposite.
Many of the commenters, provided some criticism of the article, some valid but much of it misguided in my opinion. The criticisms ran the gamut from thoughtful to hostile, but for brevity’s sake, I will address just a few of the more salient ones. Feel free to accept or dismiss them as you see fit.
Much of the negative comments swirled around the notion that I advocate putting an end to all tourism within the Adirondacks. This is absurd; nowhere in my article do I purpose ceasing tourism within the Park. Tourism is an integral part of the Adirondacks, and has been so for a very long time. I merely questioned the notion of a continual effort of promoting the Adirondacks, and presented some of the more obvious problems that may arise from a resulting increase of tourism.
Accentuating the article’s philosophical nature, I went out of the way to avoid providing any solutions to the many issues revolving around increased tourism, as one astute commenter pointed out. The lack of solutions was not an accident, as I do not see many viable options. Promoting more tourism is like a run-away train, as inevitable as the black flies in the spring, bone-chilling cold in the winter and the next sunrise.
Another criticism was my lack of intimacy with the people living in the communities where tourism already plays a major role. Given the article’s personal and philosophical nature, there was no reason to get intimate with the few communities I used as examples of gaudy tourism gone wild as some suggested; the opinions of those living in these communities were not germane to the post. That in no way means I wish to roll back the tourism industry, shuttering their business’s windows and doors, and putting them out on the street.
Compromise was suggested as a worthwhile solution within the comments, and I wholeheartedly agree. Pete Nelson’s most recent Lost Brook Dispatch discusses just such a solution to the acrimony surrounding this, and many other issues within the Adirondacks. Yet, the call to compromise often fills me with a certain amount of trepidation, as all such agreements require a baseline in which to negotiate. Unfortunately, deciding on a baseline will most likely lead to even more derisiveness.
The northern spotted owl/old growth forest controversy in the Pacific Northwest during the 1990’s illustrates the importance of a proper baseline. During that time, environmentalists wanted the small remaining portion of old growth forest in the Pacific Northwest to be fully protected, while logging interests called for more timber production (using jobs as their argument – sound familiar?). An obvious “compromise” would allow some logging in these forests, despite the fact that logging had already claimed the vast majority of old growth forests in the past.
Several commenters posited that any worry of tourism degrading the wildness of the Adirondacks to be premature, if necessary at all. The Adirondacks is a big place and there is plenty of room for different types of tourism, the argument goes. Fair enough, for now that is certainly true. The Native Americans probably entertained similar thoughts about the Europeans moving into their North American home hundreds of years ago. We know how well that idea served them.
The existence of strict rules controlling development pressures was cited as another reason for not being concerned about the increase in tourism. Although these controls on human behavior seem strict enough (sometimes even onerous) to manage any of the tourism-based development’s negative aspects, they remain ephemeral in nature over the long term. Humans create laws and ordinances, and they just as easily dissemble them when they become too inconvenient – especially when big money interests are at stake.
It was interesting that almost no one even mentioned the threat to nature from tourism and its accompanying development. This crucial constituency is usually absent from much of the decision process; these true Adirondackers, the plants and animals that called the Adirondacks home long before humans ever stepped foot within the area are all too often an afterthought. This situation is not likely to be resolved anytime soon since the comments on my article imply it is often difficult for many of us to imagine merely giving up our own parochial interests, let alone ever actually doing so.
Many of the commenters felt it was not enough to discuss the issues brought up in the article, but believed it necessary to throw in a few disparaging remarks about me personally. This is an unsavory, and unfortunately, common aspect of the Internet these days. It amounts to nothing more than intellectual bullying, providing no illumination, but instead stifling and suppressing discussion through intimidation, as other readers/writers avoid making future remarks lest this derision be directed at them as well.
A couple commenters brought up my apparent hypocrisy, as I decry tourism in my article on one hand, while contributing to the problem every time I cross the Blue Line for a visit on the other. In addition, my quest for a guiding license found its way into the comments, revealing that I may profit (at least potentially) from some of the tourism that I decry. Well, you got me on this one. Apparently, it was not enough that I admitted being selfish, but I have to fess up to being a hypocrite too. So I am a hypocrite, you might as well just call me human. At least I am in good company, as one commenter felt it necessary to spit vile scorn at me for my views in one sentence, and then in the very next chastise me for not being accepting of others’ opinions. Apparently, there is enough hypocrisy pie for each of us to have a slice.
The call for increased tourism in the Adirondacks remains a Faustian bargain at best in my mind. Of course, people living in the Adirondacks need to make a living, and currently one of the easiest ways to do so is through tourism. Yet, too much tourism can just as easily run amok, degrading the very reason for the tourism in the first place.
Hopefully, the comments on this article can avoid the insults, derision and threats of the last one, and instead stick to the issues as stated here or in my original article from two weeks ago. Otherwise, if the comments continue to increase in aggressiveness, I may just have to don a disguise every time I cross the Blue Line from now on.
Anyone know where I can buy a decent beaglepuss?
Photo: Upper Robinson River in the Five Ponds Wilderness by Dan Crane.