aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

They call me Mr. Natural

My visit to Flatwoods Park with the dog today caused me to muse upon Nature. Specifically, to muse upon the interaction of the public with parks. You see, they are in the process of taking a really nice little nature trail out at this park and paving it to death. I mean, we're talking an eight foot wide, raised concrete driveway all around the loops of the trail, with big honkin' bridges and stuff.

I suppose there are trade-offs to be made for accessibility's sake. You want the public -- all of the public, including people in wheelchairs and babies in strollers -- to be able to enjoy the great outdoors which their (families') taxes pay for. On the other hand, paving Nature in order to enjoy it seems self-defeating to me.

And when we go from this little old county park to our crown jewels, the National Park System, you face the same problem in greater magnitude. Yes, we'd like everybody to see the Smokies or Yosemite. But do we want to make it so easy to visit that we build all-asphalt "camp" grounds for gas-guzzling, polluting RVs?

Call me a hippie, but doggone if this song doesn't run through my brain:
Don't it always seem to go,
that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.
Pave Paradise, put up a parking lot.

I guess, though, that we have to make some compromises. Perhaps there is a scale of compromises. Some places need to be completely accessible to everyone who wants to go there, no matter their degree of mobility or style of travel. And some places need to be severely restricted to people who are willing to make considerable effort to prove their ability to Leave No Trace -- and if you need a wheelchair ramp, too bad. And there are several degrees of accommodation to be made between those two extremes, I think.

So, I have a set of questions for my LJ friends.
1. Do you enjoy outdoor activities?

2. What sort of facilities do you require to do what you like (e.g., flush toilets, paved roads, electric hookup at campsites, chlorinated pools . . .)?

3. If you enjoy camping, what style do you normally enjoy (e.g., tent camping/primitive, tent camping w/electric, pop-up camper, RV . . .)?

4. How much trouble are you willing to go to for your outdoor experience (As in, getting permits, learning special techniques, obeying rules, packing out human waste . . .)?

5. Would you support LESS accessibility for places like our National Parks (as in, fewer permanent structures like ramps, less access for vehicles, etc.)?

6. Any other thoughts you'd like to share on this subject?

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