Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Rethinking the Wild

In a recent NYTimes editorial, Christopher Solomon states that the Wilderness Act, at 50 years, is facing a midlife crisis. Solomon cites some environmentalists that believe human intervention may be required in order to save or restore the original wilderness qualities in many of our wilderness areas.
Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness

Due to climate change, areas like Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows is drying out and being replaced by lodgepole pine forest. Should the Park Service keep the meadow intact by cutting these trees and irrigating the meadow? Sequoia and Joshua Tree national parks are considering interventions to help these titular species survive rising temperatures and drought, either relocating trees or irrigating groves. In Bandelier National Monument, the Park Service has already stepped in to remove the increasing pinon-juniper forest to stave off erosion of thousands of archaeological sites and restore the grassland character of the area.

It's an interesting question -- is Wilderness truly wild? Is any place on the planet not shaped by human impact? Can we really experience land "untrammeled by man?" Grazing is still an allowed use of Wilderness, and the impacts of over-grazing are evident everywhere in the American west (compacted soils, cutbanks, disappearance of native grasses and other species, and the invasion of nonnatives). Popular areas are overrun by recreationalists, like the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness where hundreds of people and their dogs pound the trails everyday.

What do you think? Is Wilderness worth keeping? Do we relax the rules to allow more intervention by land agencies or contracted concessions? Is it time to rewrite the Wilderness Act?


Friday, August 15, 2014

Wear Sunscreen!

Here at Wilderness Volunteers, we all spend a lot of time outside. Photographer Thomas Leveritt filmed people under UV light, and the results are amazing. This video drives home why we should be wearing sunscreen:


Girl in UV light and in regular light
My dermatologist tells me that most people don't put enough sunscreen on, and you can see the difference in properly (thickly) applied sunscreen vs the thin layer we usually use.

Do you wear sunscreen regularly?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Indian Peaks Wilderness Causeway

On the High Lonesome Trail:

This was only one of the projects we did; we also built two 25-ft bridges over the creek. See the bridge photos at this link.
Bridge on the High Lonesome Trail, Indian Peaks Wilderness, CO

Adventure Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

This new film by Backpacker's Pantry makes the point that everyone welcomes a good hot meal in the outdoors, whatever their backpacking style:

Monday, June 30, 2014

Memoirs of a Cactus: Saguaro Wilderness

Shared from NPS Wilderness

"They say that history is in the eye of the beholder, but what if the beholder is wilderness itself? What do our actions as a species look like to a member of the wilderness community? A personal history from the eyes of the saguaro cacti, this video recounts how over time humans have transformed Saguaro National Park's desert landscape. Saguaro cacti are among the oldest members of the Sonoran desert community, and over centuries and generations, the cacti have seen their home change dramatically as groups of humans moved in. Over the course of this memoir, we see poetic vestiges of human settlement in the desert, echoes from a time before wilderness reclaimed its own."