Monday, March 31, 2008

Drop that Remote

[The Great Outdoors] Jeff Osgood, a contributor to Writers on the Range, writes the most cogent essay I've seen yet on why Americans are shunning the great outdoors in record numbers. His points, published in today's Salt Lake Tribune, are original and thought-provoking.

Not too surprisingly, he mostly blames our fascination with all things video.

I watch more than my share of TV and Comcast On Demand movies, believe me. I'm as good a couch-sitter as anyone. But there is a whole wide world out there and--lucky for us--much of it is still within three to five hours driving distance for Utahns.

Depending on the weather, I'm planning on bicycling with two others from West Yellowstone, Mont., to Gardiner, Mont., this weekend through Yellowstone National Park. Cars and trucks are not allowed inside the park until mid-April, so this is our opportunity to see the grand place on two wheels and get close-up views of wildlife before the seasonal noise and traffic take hold. A high-pressure system is predicted to hover over the park. We'll pray for sun.

Besides the problems that Osgood lays out in his essay, I wonder about this: How long will it be before anti-environmental lawmakers start using declining visits to wild places as proof that drilling in these areas really won't hurt anyone? I mean, if people aren't recreating in these places as they once were, what damage will a bit of bulldozing do? Now it's true that national parks and forests are off-limits to that kind of exploration. But declining interest in parks can also lead to serious decreases in federal funding, as well. Think about it.

(Holly Mullen)


  1. It's funny but I can't seem to go anywhere in the mountains anymore without encountering people. Time was - not so very long ago - that I could go hiking or camping and rarely see another person. It's become harder and harder to visit the Uintas without camping near other people. I remember the Uintas being something of a sanctuary for misanthropes like me. Same goes for the desert.

    There may be fewer people visiting wild places, I suppose, but I've observed something entirely different.

    And I refuse to visit Yellowstone anymore. Why? The fucking weekend warrior Harley riders blasting through the place. There's no peace in the parks anymore due to these moronic posers bedecked in everything Harley, from underwear to scarf to Harley bejeweled goggles. Don't get me wrong, I ride, too (not a bloody Harley - my bike is quiet), but these thunder-fuckers destroy anything resembling peace.

  2. I think you're right, Hayduke, about visits being up in the backcountry. But I do know that visits to national parks are down (which may be good for misanthropes like you and me!).

    You're right about Jellystone. That's why we ride our bikes through the park before they let cars in for the season. It's the only way to do it--no fossil fuels burned in the process and you can have the road to yourself. The only risk is the weather turning...

  3. Holly,

    Enjoy your ride sans vehicle traffic. Your ride, good weather or not, promises to be incredible - as you already know, Yellowstone is stunning. Even so, here's to plenty of sunshine for you and yours!


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