Saturday, May 9, 2009

To hell with easy access!

A continuing battle with regard to America's scenic wilderness is the conflict between access and preservation. Wilderness areas can be difficult to obtain access to for those of us who are unable or unwilling to hike over challenging terrain to see the beauty of these wilderness areas. The National Parks and other nominally protected areas are under constant pressure to provide easy (often motorized) access to people who apparently only wish to "check off" visitations to great natural wonders. I say "No!" to those people, even if I'm becoming one of those unable to reach pristine wilderness. It's the very difficulty of access that has preserved such places. Let it stay difficult!

My position is affected by the fact that I'm getting older and less capable of hiking to gain access to those beautiful locations I would have found relatively easy to get at a few years ago. I can't stop the advance of time and my declining capabilities. But I can say without hesitation that I would prefer that we conserve those areas of natural beauty in preference to providing easy access for everyone. I say let access be denied to those physically unable to reach these wilderness areas, in preference to providing motorized, simplified access. Preservation trumps access, as I see it! It's not absolutely necessary that I (or anyone else) be able to see these places - for me, it's preferable that I know they'll be preserved for future generations. Access inevitably turns into exploitation.

You can call me a tree-hugger or whatever. It's far less important to me that you have a chance to see something beautiful, thereby destroying its beauty, than for me to know that its wildness has been preserved. If you (and I) can't get there by some simple means, then everyone is better off! The natural beauty of these places should outlive me - I prefer that their natural wonders be there for future generations instead of turned into some sort of touristic checkoff.

If we can save some semblance of these wild places, then that trumps any "access" argument, in my view of things.

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