[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.