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Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 11 2017 12:34 pm
by TheMazzicMan
I read an article in last Sunday's local fish wrap ("Trail represents new age of experiencing Colorado 14ers", Arizona Republic, Sept. 10, 2017) about the efforts of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute to reroute trails in Colorado's "Fourteeners" region. The argument for the practice cites safer trails and protection of sensitive flora. The author notes, anecdotally, that some feel this sort of management equates to "dumbing down the mountains."

What do you think? The new normal? The wussification of wilderness?

Discuss.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 11 2017 12:44 pm
by chumley

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 11 2017 1:07 pm
by outdoor_lover
I think if People actually read the Article, they will realize "we are not doing this for the People".... I agree with what they are doing and I don't think it's Dumbing or Wussing the Wilderness at all... Some Wilderness Areas are being completely overrun with People and they are Loving it to Death... The 14'ers and the Superstitions in Areas are a great Example of that... Alpine Flora and Wildlife are pretty Fragile and they have enough to deal with, with Global Warming. The Pika is a very good Example of that... We are treading down their Food Supplies and Disrupting their Homes as well as causing Erosion Problems that exacerbate those Conditions even further... I applaud the Organization and Volunteers for taking the Initiative to try to Preserve these Places and Protect them from Ourselves....

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 11 2017 1:41 pm
by rwstorm
I totally agree with what outdoor_lover posted. Too many of us getting out there more than ever, loving these places to death. This is an incredibly difficult project, but one that must be done. I will always side with the plants and animals.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 11 2017 4:13 pm
by TheMazzicMan
outdoor_lover wrote:I applaud the Organization and Volunteers for taking the Initiative to try to Preserve these Places and Protect them from Ourselves....
I tend to agree with you, but I also respect that people have differing opinions on what constitutes "preservation" and "protection". For example, I would prefer one well-engineered trail to several informal social trails, even if the informal ones have less of a visual impact upon the landscape. If, however, that well-engineered trail resulted in habitat/migration alteration, could it still be more appropriate than leaving the situation as it is? Would a more appropriate response be to close the area to human traffic altogether? Some may view the installation of any engineered elements (steps, retaining walls, handholds, etc.) as an unacceptable imposition upon the landscape. Seems to present something of a dilemma.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 11 2017 4:14 pm
by TheMazzicMan
@chumley Thanks for sharing the link. Wasn't sure if that was cool or not.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 11 2017 6:53 pm
by nonot
outdoor_lover wrote: The Pika is a very good Example of that... We are treading down their Food Supplies ....
The relationship between the amount of social trails of humans and animals, and destroying food population for the local wildlife is not well studied, and has been demonstrated in desert environments to be counter-intuitive. I am not sure if this has really been studied in alpine environments though. For those that care I saw a TED talk that was actually worthwhile (in my opinion), where he talks about the decision to kill off 10000 elephants to protect food supplies being the worst decision of his life:

[ youtube video ]

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 11 2017 9:38 pm
by rcorfman
outdoor_lover wrote:The Pika is a very good Example of that...
Pikas are everywhere, I swear. I got up one night a couple weeks ago to pee and tried to put my shoe on but something was in the way. I thought my sock was bunched up so I straightened it and tried again. Still something was in the way so I thought the insole was out of whack so I stuck my hand in the shoe and felt a fur ball. Dang Pika! Oh, this was in Colorado at about 12K'

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 1:21 am
by outdoor_lover
@nonot
Actually, I didn't word that very well... Pikas are actually having a very hard time with Global Warming. They are having to go Higher up in order to Survive because the Temps are getting gradually Warmer.... But the Higher they go, the more Limited the Grass is that they rely on for Food and if people are stomping around on it, it just makes it that much harder.... I'll see if I can find the Article that talks about their Thinning Populations due to the Warming Trend....

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 5:06 am
by rwstorm

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 6:14 am
by Jim_H
What is the big deal about rerouting trails and improving hiking conditions for wilderness areas/ alpine terrain/ 14ers? Lots of people, myself at one time, get obsessed with those mountains and head to them. Fragile environments need protection from humans that enter them and damage or can damage them, so improving trails to corral human foot traffic and minimize erosion is a great idea.

This is neither a policy change to land management, nor something that "wussifies" hiking, mountaineering, or anything else, it is just a necessary change for areas that receive a lot of visitation. Maybe, there ought to be quotas to limit visits on the more damaged routes while they are rebuild using users fees at that site? Discuss that, instead.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 6:52 am
by flagscott
nonot wrote:
outdoor_lover wrote: The Pika is a very good Example of that... We are treading down their Food Supplies ....
The relationship between the amount of social trails of humans and animals, and destroying food population for the local wildlife is not well studied, and has been demonstrated in desert environments to be counter-intuitive. I am not sure if this has really been studied in alpine environments though. For those that care I saw a TED talk that was actually worthwhile (in my opinion), where he talks about the decision to kill off 10000 elephants to protect food supplies being the worst decision of his life:

[ youtube video ]
Allen Savory's "research" has been debunked as false by a number of researchers. See http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2017-2 ... ate-change . (How can you tell when a "scientist" is lying? When they say "there can be no discussion of details.") The Briske paper mentioned in that article is probably the most damning.

Also, there are plenty of scientific studies showing that tramping of fragile places like tundra or desert is bad for the plants and soils. Effects on animals are less consistent (which makes sense because animals are using larger areas than just the trail), but there are some studies that have shown that animals get displaced by crowds of people, too.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 7:49 am
by chumley
Holistic cattle grazing methods in the desert, or rerouting trails on 14ers? :?

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 8:46 am
by flagscott
chumley wrote:Holistic cattle grazing methods in the desert, or rerouting trails on 14ers? :?
Just responding to the posts as I see 'em. But if you're saying that you can't equate grazing methods with hiking trails, you are correct.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 9:40 am
by TheMazzicMan
Jim_H wrote:Maybe, there ought to be quotas to limit visits on the more damaged routes while they are rebuild using users fees at that site?
That was my initial reaction after reading the article. Making more significant alterations to the environment seems to be going in the opposite direction from minimizing impact. The generous part of me likes making the outdoors as accessible as possible, but providing that sort of accessibility has consequences. Conversely, if the only sanctioned trail is one that a small group of users can access, that doesn't seem right either. To construct a route that is more forgiving for the casual user seems an equitable compromise, but at what price (ecologically and aesthetically)?

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 10:02 am
by TheMazzicMan
flagscott wrote:Also, there are plenty of scientific studies showing that tramping of fragile places like tundra or desert is bad for the plants and soils.
Right! "Don't bust the crust!" I'm not as familiar with alpine ecology but I can imagine what a Sisyphean effort it is for land use managers to corral users in some desert environments where the line between trail and sensitive area is a fine, nearly nonexistent one. As visitor impact intensifies in these areas, the challenges to equitable management become quite daunting. In the mountains, geography can be useful in acting as a natural barrier against intrusion. The desert? Not so much. Petrified Forest National Park (a sprawling desert preserve with both biological and geological resources to protect) comes to mind.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 10:44 am
by chumley
t_d_singletree wrote:What do you think?
I don't think you were around for this somewhat related discussion earlier this year.
https://hikearizona.com/dex2/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9874

By law, there is a difference between how wilderness areas are managed versus other federal lands. More than half of the 14ers in Colorado are in federally designated wilderness (29/53) and a few others are on the boundary of a wilderness area. I didn't check the routes for each of them -- the best access may be via the wilderness even if the peak is on the boundary.

Kit Carson (the peak referenced in the linked article) is accessed via a trail in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, but the peak itself and the talus slope switchbacks they are building are not in the wilderness.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 1:33 pm
by neilends
Just for reference: the very fragile ecosystemed Denali National Park does not have any maintained trails and also doesn't really need them. Denali is not thickly forested. Presumably, widely spreading human door traffic is healthier for the environment there than the use of foot trails.

Crowds are controlled. You're not allowed to drive your car in to Denali, park, and take off. You have to take the official park but that has designated dropoff points. You have to also get a permit, and you can't get the permit without sitting through an orientation session.

This info may be dated because I lived in Denali as an employee in 1996.

Re: Land Management Policy

Posted: Sep 12 2017 6:48 pm
by outdoor_lover
@rwstorm
Thanks Randy! Not the one I read, but that'll do just fine!