Sunday, December 26, 2021

Weekly news round up

A collection of interesting reads:

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.




5 Responses

  1. Michael Caffrey says:

    Finally, someone speaks truth to power in the Mother Jones article The Idiots Defacing Our National Parks. It is high time we stop cowing to “economic” interests at the expense of our remaining wilderness. These are the same interests that Thoreau wrote “would carry the landscape, who would carry his God, to market, if he could get anything for him”. A life long trekker, climber, lover of wilderness, I have stopped going into the woods where one must fight madding crowds of bored, numbskulled, selfie-taking, social media zombies who slowly but surely are degrading and ultimately destroying our sacred places, while risking the lives of already stressed and exhausted Forest Rangers who must rescue them from their ill-conceived, “back to nature” junkets. My disgust on Quandry Peak in Colorado at seeing, just off the trail at 11,000 feet a veritable open sewer of feces, toilet paper, filthy discarded underwear in September 2020 while jockeying with literally hundreds and hundreds of “adventurers” led me to simply turn around and get off the mountain. My home range Adirondacks are seeing the same overuse, and abuse and seeking solace in the mountains there is difficult if not impossible in May- October. I for one do not want to witness this magical place sacrificed at the altar of another cheeseburger, a tank of gas, or a bump in some hotel’s REVPAR. These folks- and I speak of those who have no respect for the land, and whose abhorrent behaviors are chronicled in the Mother Jones article, are not going to be the next generation of environmental advocates- they are going to do what damage they can, and once this pandemic is over, (hopefully) they will return to their social media feeds and allow the land to recover from the abuse wrought by their short-lived interest in nature. Until then consideration must be given to means of limiting use and access through permits, fees, lotteries and other creative means of managing this priceless resource.

    • Boreas says:

      Michael,

      I agree with your sentiments. Unfortunately I can’t think of a solution that our polarized populace could agree on. So in the meantime, Nature loses while humans impotently wring their hands.

      But, another consideration is ourselves. How often do we witness acts of destruction actually taking place on our excursions into the forests and waters? With increasing use, how is this damage occurring without anyone witnessing it? If we hike by – eyes fixed ahead – ignoring these acts, aren’t we just as culpable? Do we engage? Do we even bother to report it? How much do we REALLY care?

    • JB says:

      Michael and Boreas,

      You both are spot on. The Mother Jones article was exceptionally forward and refreshing (thanks to Melissa for the referral). When recently reading an historical overview of Adirondack land management written some two decades ago, I was struck by how much the bar has been lowered in the past century for protecting wilderness from overuse: “Concern about the overuse of the sometimes fragile Adirondack woods and waters originated in the post-Civil War years when the North Woods first experienced the impact of the “ubiquitous tourist.” As surveyor Verplanck Colvin noted in 1880, these throngs were a part of “the genius of change [which] has possession of the land; we cannot control it.” Outdoor writer Fred Mather, a contemporary of Colvin’s, put it another way. He said new railroads and improved wagon roads rendered the vast solitudes “…to easy of access,” which, because of the influx of a new breed of sportsmen, threatened the destruction of the entire region.” (from Comstock Jr, E., The role of private preserves in the Adirondack Park)

      The pandemic has indeed worsened recreational overuse, but the trends have been going in a bad direction for decades (above all, what the pandemic has really worsened is development pressures upon private lands in the Park). What matters is that alarm bells should be going off: archaeologists will be digging up trailside plastic bags and diapers in 100 years and a multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy will not vanish overnight. An industrialized population is over-exploiting a pre-industrial resource managed by a commercial bureaucracy. We are being buried by numbers, both literally, in terms of sheer human bodies, and figuratively: histograms and checklists are no more effective at protecting natural resources than numerical taxonomy is at classifying them. Public wilderness management has become a misnomer–it is now concerned with mitigating microscopic impacts (rerouting, reintroducing) rather than conserving the larger landscapes that we originally set out to protect. Groups concerned with the edification of recreational economies, like ADK and ROOST, are now facing the same uncomfortable ultimatum that regional logging and mining lobbies faced 50 years ago: redefine their raison d’etat or become irrelevant. The modern paradigm is rotten to the core. If we have learned anything this century, it is to hope for the best and expect the worst. If I am hoping for the best, it is that governments and interest groups will heed that dictum–that a burgeoning public sentiment of disgust will tip the balance of power. What is happening now is worse than the acceleration of recreational overuse–it is an acceleration of public tolerance for overuse.

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