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Philosophy of wilderness access thread


Fairweather

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I certainly don't think that real, demonstrable, physical damage can be deemed a social construct. I'll have to think about the rest of your post though. You probably have a point. For now, I will say that I've always found the term "managed wilderness" a bit oxymoronic.

 

In a way, even demonstrable physical "damage" is a social constuct - after all, if we were to cease all of our destructive behaviors, the earth would heal itself (cliche I know). But we as humans are judging what is damaged or not, and the magnitude of the damage. We decide on the limits of acceptablity, what conditions we are willing to sacrifice and what we are not, and surely that is a social construct... Just the fact that we label something a "wilderness" separates ourselves from the land. Is it possible for humans to be wild?

 

Although, I do understand what you're saying... sometimes I just think it beneficial to play the devil's advocate.

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What makes the wilderness we have valuable? Basically, it is the absence of roads. If we close more roads, we will have more roadless areas. The roadless areas we have will be 'deeper' and (from my POV) more valuable. I understand that many do not share this view--their viewpoint is as important as mine and as a society occupying this land we should try and find a consensus solution. For me the question is 'how much roadless land do we want to leave future generations?'. It's my beleif that almost everybody (and certainly society as a whole) 'wins' when we preserve land. Hell, we can always build roads all over it later!

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Isn't it also a rule that no mechanized tools are allowed in wilderness area (not just ATV, but also chainsaws, etc) thus ensuring quiet? I've always heard that this is a rule, but I really don't know and have never read the legal definitions. If there is a link to them, I'd be very interested in reading this.

Thanks

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Isn't it also a rule that no mechanized tools are allowed in wilderness area (not just ATV, but also chainsaws, etc) thus ensuring quiet? I've always heard that this is a rule, but I really don't know and have never read the legal definitions. If there is a link to them, I'd be very interested in reading this.

Thanks

 

This is supposedly the rule, but it is mostly (rightly!) ignored by National Park and Forest administrators who recognize the folly and allow their limited use in designated wilderness for trail maintenance. Back in the early 1990's the Alpine Lakes Protection Society attempted to block the use of chainsaws being employed to clear thousands of windfelled trees from a huge storm the previous winter and reopen hundreds of trail miles, citing The Wilderness Act 1964. The USFS manager then threatened to adhere to the letter of the law.....by sending out crews with hand augers and dynamite. ALPS relented. Now that's a land manager I could buy a beer for!

 

Under the strictest, most radical employment of Wilderness Act regs even the use of wheelbarrows could be prohibited. Wheels. :rolleyes:

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If we make our mountain wilderness/alpine areas inaccessible to all but a super-fit minority, we will seal our own doom...

 

Haha, yes that's true. Except that pretty much nowhere is accessible only by a "super-fit" minority, excluding difficult climbs. Any average Joe can go most anywhere with the right equipment and motivation. The fact that a growing number of Americans are too fat/lazy and lack the will to exert themselves does not mean our mountain wilderness/alpine areas are inaccessible.

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Isn't it also a rule that no mechanized tools are allowed in wilderness area (not just ATV, but also chainsaws, etc) thus ensuring quiet? I've always heard that this is a rule, but I really don't know and have never read the legal definitions. If there is a link to them, I'd be very interested in reading this.

Thanks

 

This is supposedly the rule, but it is mostly (rightly!) ignored by National Park and Forest administrators who recognize the folly and allow their limited use in designated wilderness for trail maintenance. Back in the early 1990's the Alpine Lakes Protection Society attempted to block the use of chainsaws being employed to clear thousands of windfelled trees from a huge storm the previous winter and reopen hundreds of trail miles, citing The Wilderness Act 1964. The USFS manager then threatened to adhere to the letter of the law.....by sending out crews with hand augers and dynamite. ALPS relented. Now that's a land manager I could buy a beer for!

 

Under the strictest, most radical employment of Wilderness Act regs even the use of wheelbarrows could be prohibited. Wheels. :rolleyes:

 

Fairweather, isn't it true that those chainsaws were clearing thousands of trees to sell on the private market? To open those "hundreds" of miles of trails wouldn't have required chainsawing all those trees - a simple cross-cut saw would work too.

But you are right, Superintendents have the right to waive the wilderness act under special circumstances - like the use of chainsaws, wheelbarrows, helicopter supply runs, etc. Another example of this is when the Yosemite National Park Superintedent allows the ASCA to replace bolts with battery powered drills, an act that got Skinner and Piana fined when they first freed the Salathe.

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Fairweather, isn't it true that those chainsaws were clearing thousands of trees to sell on the private market? To open those "hundreds" of miles of trails wouldn't have required chainsawing all those trees - a simple cross-cut saw would work too.

 

This isn't true at all. The cutouts were simply rolled aside or downhill as they almost always are. It was NF-employed trail crews that did the work - not timber companies. Maybe you're thinking of "salvage logging" at Mount Saint Helens and elsewhere? Different subject entirely.

 

As for crosscuts, I recall that the land manager deternined it would have taken up to ten years to reopen all of the trails in WenatcheeNF and MBSNF - where the fallen trees were "piled like jackstraws" across many trails - if cross-cuts only were used.

 

What do you think about the use of simple wheelbarrows for trail work? Of course, you know where I'm going with this.

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You're right, I'm thinking of salvage logging operations like what happened in Icicle Canyon not too long ago.

 

Wheelbarrows on trails? In my three years building trails in northern New Mexico we only used a wheelbarrow once. And "used" refers to the six miles round trip we moved it from the helo drop-off to the work site and back.

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Not to get back on thread, but Wallace Stegner had some very valuable things to say about the continuing need for the existance of wilderness, whether people 'use' it or not, that it's presence is an important component to the American character. Below is a link to the original letter, which was later turned into the essay that I originally read. (God, sometimes the Internet just blows my mind!)

 

 

http://www.wilderness.org/OurIssues/Wilderness/wildernessletter.cfm

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Interesting period piece. But I find writing like this particularly condescending:

 

"What I want to speak for is not so much the wilderness uses, valuable as those are, but the wilderness idea, which is a resource in itself. Being an intangible and spiritual resource, it will seem mystical to the practical minded--but then anything that cannot be moved by a bulldozer is likely to seem mystical to them."

 

Who is this man, icon or no, to determine one cannot be both practical and love wilderness. Classic "us" versus "them". Too bad we can't get past 1960.

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