The Guardian on National Parks

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balzaccom
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The Guardian on National Parks

Post by balzaccom » Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:59 am

We've come to appreciate the perspective that the Guardian gives on many stories, and this one really hit home. It's an excellent discussion of the issues we face moving forward with our national parks.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... -solutions

We have always been of the opinion that encouraging people to visit the mountains is a good idea, because the more people appreciate our wilderness, the more they will vote for protection of our wild places. But this article suggests that we may be well beyond the carrying capacity of some of our parks, and more people isn't going to help that at all. On the other hand, like Maverick, we never post geo-locations for any of our photos, and we don't usually recommend specific campsites for two reasons. One of them is that we think you should find your own scenic treasures. The other one is that you may prefer something different from what we like, and you should feel free to explore a bit. At any rate, the story is sobering. And yes, we contribute to pay for the Guardian's work.


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Re: The Guardian on National Parks

Post by rightstar76 » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:38 pm

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Re: The Guardian on National Parks

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:02 pm

It is more than just social media. Look closely at those pictures. Globalization is a big contributor. More people, all over the world, now have the ability to travel. This impacts all natural treasures all over the world; it is not just U.S. national parks. Many other countries are a lot stricter than we at limiting visitors and charging them a LOT more. It used to be a few individual international tourists; now it is busloads. Big business with profit motives, not conservation motives. There is a huge tourist industry in Las Vegas that floods national parks in the desert southwest with visitors. One popular spot in SE Asia (I believe Thailand) got so trashed by young tourists (partiers) that they shut the entire place down. We may now just be getting our just deserves; what we have done to the rest of the world for decades. This is a global problem, not just an American problem.

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Re: The Guardian on National Parks

Post by balzaccom » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:08 pm

That's a fact, Daisy. I can't count the number of Europeans that we met in the Southwest doing the Grand Circle Tour from Vegas: South to the Grand Canyon, then a loop through Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, Zion, and back to Vegas, all in a week. And all in a rented RV.
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Re: The Guardian on National Parks

Post by longri » Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:08 am

New Zealand is an example. They promoted tourism to their extremely beautiful country and boy did the tourists come. Now the most popular parts of NZ are overrun with too many people. They have a certain number of well maintained "Great Walks" that you usually have to book (huts and/or campsites) well in advance. Last year they doubled the price for non-residents. I doubt it will tamp down the numbers.

I scanned through that article in the Guardian, wincing a bit. Understandably, they did a much better job describing the fact that there's a problem than they did suggesting solutions. I've pretty much stopped visiting Yosemite Valley, a place I've spent hundreds of days in the past. And Joshua Tree, were I used to climb a lot, well, now I don't go there anymore. The explosion of visitation at that park is truly phenomenal. If you extrapolate the growth it will catch Yosemite in a few years. That may not happen but the fact that one could even consider it is amazing given how relatively sleepy a place it was 20-30 years ago.

If only this were a problem limited to the parks...


Oh well. Steven Pinker thinks things are getting better so maybe I'm looking at it wrong.

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Re: The Guardian on National Parks

Post by Luckydrew » Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:03 pm

While I appreciate the sentiment that many here express as to the difficulties that many recent "newbies" may bring to the park, it brings to mind a similar article published in the Christian Science Monitor:

     "YOSEMITE National Park, one of America's "crown jewels," has had some rough handling in recent years. Increasing numbers of visitors and declining budgets for upkeep have left the California park a bit shabby. But this site of soaring granite walls, spectacular waterfalls, and more than 1,000 square miles of wilderness, made famous by naturalist John Muir and photographer Ansel Adams, may be at a turning point.
and

     But the basic problem remains too many people "loving the park to death," say officials. And although the vast majority of visitors treat the park respectfully, the trend toward shorter visits means it's harder to educate people on park preservation.

The date of this article's publication? August 17, 1993! If my math is correct, that's over 25 years ago.

As early as September 1980, the General Plan for Yosemite National Park discussed the elimination of parking and wholesale deconstruction of many of the amenities we take for granted today, and targeting development in many areas of the park as well as the relocation of non-essential administrative activities to areas outside the park.

At the time of the publication of the general plan, in the range of 38 years ago, it is likely that many of us here were part of the problem of "expanding use that served to degrade the pristine nature of the park and may leave future generations unaware of, or incapable of accessing nature's beauty."

With a 67% increase in just California's population since 1980, it should come as no surprise that any resource in the State is not subject significant pressure. Demographics are inexorable.

So perhaps the answer lies in not restricting access to the park, but rather strive to expand access to areas beyond the valley - build more roads - distribute folks over a larger areas so as to limit the damage in any particular area.

The pristine Yosemite of Muir is not a reality for anyone living today - and it never will be.

I have always been reminded of advice an old boss once gave me - "Don't write a rule you don't want to live under."

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Re: The Guardian on National Parks

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 21, 2018 5:32 pm

Suggesting that the solution is to "build more roads to distribute the use" shows a complete lack of understanding of the concept of wilderness and the Wilderness Act itself! NOT a solution!!

If you think it is the population increase of California that is stressing the park, then you have not been to the park lately. Take a good look at the visitors- many are from all over the USA and the world. Yosemite Valley has always attracted serious climbers from all over the world, but the level of "one-day-selfie-tick off the bucket list" visitors, packed in big tour busses, is a relatively recent development. These visitors do not impact the backcountry much but certainly do impact the traffic (which leads to traffic jams and more exhaust pollution) and the facilities such as restrooms. The infrastructure has a limit it can handle. When this limit is hit, everyone's experience is degraded as well as the environment itself.

As for Yosemite never being what John Muir experienced, the concept is to keep the experience as close to that as possible in the front country; and limit impact in the wilderness, based on the Wilderness Act.

The visitor distribution that is needed is not within Yosemite, but within the entire system of National Parks. There are some parks that get little use and others that get overrun.

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Re: The Guardian on National Parks

Post by longri » Wed Nov 21, 2018 7:37 pm

Daisy, you misread his post. He said "...a 67% increase in just California's population since 1980" [my emphasis].

The population increase in CA isn't out of step with population increases elsewhere. That's the problem, in a nutshell. Lots and lots of people combined with disposable income and associated leisure time.

I'm not sure I like the idea of building more roads. But, I don't know, it might be the better alternative. Think about it a bit more.

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Re: The Guardian on National Parks

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:42 pm

More roads to where? It is Yosemite Valley that everyone wants to see, not some obscure place. Right now there are roads to the main attractions; Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Tioga Pass, Hetch Hetchy, ancient tree groves. One time visitors are not going to go to a new location on a new road in lieu of those iconic vistas already served by roads. Convert current roads into 4-lane highways? That would just add more people to an already stressed resource and completely change the character of Yosemite. Roads into the wilderness? That basically is destroying the resource.

Other alternatives include;
1) banning or limiting the private auto and providing more and better public transportation that runs often and around the clock
2) perhaps put in a train or monorail or some other kind of transportation other than roads
3) having a daily limit on total visitors or require a day-use permit
4) reducing some of the "urban" features (such as they have done with getting gas stations out of the valley)
5) spreading use throughout the years, perhaps by giving good discounts for off-season use, or eliminating the entry fee at very low use times
6) do a better job at publicizing ALL the national parks

Bottom line is that protecting the resource is more important than maximizing use. A National Park is not an amusement park. To that extent perhaps we should even change the name of National Park to National Preserve or Refuge (I think that is what they call them in Argentina).

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Re: The Guardian on National Parks

Post by rightstar76 » Thu Nov 22, 2018 9:41 am

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