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I'm sure you're all aware of Sally Jewell's nomination for Secretary of the Interior. Did you all read this from The New York Times blog by Timothy Egan? It got me feeling a little territorial:

For all the ranchers and wildcatters, the loggers and right-wing county commissioners who clamor for control of the nation’s public lands, the dominant user is an urbanite, who bikes, skis, rafts, climbs, hunts, fishes, watches birds, waits for sunsets with a camera or finds an antidote for “nature deficit disorder” in a weekend on a high plateau. Yet this silent majority is taken for granted.
(emphasis mine)

When I first saw this coming across on posts by Facebook friends, I cheered. Public lands are extracted from maybe more than they are protected and preserved. The rest of us who appreciate nature are sort of bulldozed by the corporations who stand to make a fist full of dollars.

But I kept coming back to that bit about urbanites who bike, ski, and raft. I have a deep appreciation of nature and a solid belief in preserving and sanely managing the lands we all supposedly share, but I'm not an urbanite and I don't have the money to head out in the yonder to bike, raft, and ski. At least not very often. The cost of getting out there plus the cost of the gear needed to recreate adds up to just too much. So I camp when I'm able, hike a bit, ski maybe once or twice a year if I can manage it. Even with that little bit, I'm way ahead of lots of folks who rarely, if ever, have the chance or can afford to enjoy our public lands.

Sally Jewell represents one of the biggest sellers of outdoor gear in America, whether she still works for them or not. REI, which started as a hole in the wall in Seattle, has grown and spread and put a few local outdoor gear places out of business--basically had the same effect Barnes & Noble has had on the indie bookseller. REI is cheaper, but much of their stuff is priced out of reach for anyone with little or no expendable income. REI was founded to serve an elite group of mountain climbers. Will how our public lands are managed shift from one elite group (oil and gas corps) to another (wealthy urbanites)?

Urbanite outdoor types do their share of messing up public lands, too. Downhill skiing is hardly environmentally friendly, but maybe cross-country is. Getting to any of these places to raft and bike takes a good dose of fossil fuels, staff to clean abused bathrooms, empty trash, pick up trash off the ground...many areas now have limited permits due to heavy traffic from the recreation-seeking

And then there's this:

" ... those who value the prairies, canyons, mountains and grasslands of Interior for something other than extraction have been largely missing from the debate. . ."
Uhm, if most of the voices getting heard are those of oil and mining companies, aren't all of the rest of us who care about the planet not getting heard? Not just the well-off urbanite who can afford to be out there with all that made-in-China gear, shooting the rapids and swooshing over the snow?

And, believe it or not, plenty of ranchers and farmers also value the prairies and canyons and etc. It's part of the reason some live in those out-of-the-way places. I know of a couple of Eastern Oregon ranchers who make regular recreational use of the mountains and canyons when they have the time.

I think this diary is more of an observation and a caution than a complaint. I worry about our public lands becoming reserved for the elite. I hope that there are programs to help others get out there to recover from nature deficit -- for the chance to ever experience the natural and the wild at all. What comes to mind right now is Outward Bound, Oregon's Northwest Youth Corps (I think WA has something similiar), Youth Conservation Corps, etc. I was a YCC participant years ago. A handful of the kids I worked with were low income city kids who had never been in the woods. And those kids weren't out recreating; mostly they worked pretty damn hard for the experience - the experience was the real pay - the money didn't add up to much.

I don't know a lot about what's available to help people enjoy the great outdoors who may not otherwise have the chance, so share what you know in the comments.

Don't get me wrong, I would rather that people who can afford to be out there hiking and rafting have a say in how are public lands are managed than just the big oil and mining companies, but I hope that group includes die-hard conservationists to maintain a balance. I applaud Sally Jewell's nomination. And REI is a leader in sustainable business practices, so worth paying attention to, even if they don't really feel like a co-op. Not to me.

Maybe I'm worrying over nothing, but Egan's blog, after some thought, got up my nose a little because of the elitist slant.

Anyhow, I'm here looking for other thoughts and discussion.

4:22 PM PT: Community Spotlight! I expected this diary to go unnoticed. Thanks Rescue Rangers!

Originally posted to Elizaveta on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 02:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Headwaters and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Transportation and mentoring are key I think. (14+ / 0-)

    My hunch is that the barrier to getting non-wealthy urbanites to use and appreciate the recreation opportunities is getting there.

    A wealthy person just fires up their reliable personal automobile, gasses it up and sets their on-board GPS for the chosen trail head (swing by the Starbucks on the way out of town).  This ease isn't available to those with iffy transportation options or lack of a car or no tradition (for lack of a better term) of looking to public lands for recreation opportunities.  

    I spend a lot of time doing outdoor stuff, often on public land.  I think most of us are too easily sold on the idea that one needs lots of fancy gear to be safe or comfortable in most situations.  I would hope that folks are not excluded from taking a hike for lack of a $200 North Face fleece and $300 Vasque hikers.  I buy from REI because their gear lasts a long (!) time and I probably save money in the end by not having to replace stuff, but I've also tried to adopt sort of a minimalist attitude about gear.  Getting outdoors should be about experiencing and enjoying nature not about the gear.

    I wish I knew of more programs that would introduce non-wealthy urbanites to the wealth of opportunities available in our public lands.  I've been a mentor in mentored hunting programs for people who have an interest but don't have anybody to show them the ropes.  Maybe there should be some sort of mentored camping or mentored canoeing programs.

    •  I rely on used gear (7+ / 0-)

      almost exclusively - there's so much of it out there. And I've made the effort in the past to take friends of our kids camping who haven't been before.

      Agree that mentoring is key if the outdoor experience isn't part of your DNA.

      •  Many or most urbanites (7+ / 0-)

        Who go out are not wealthy.  I went backpacking a lot when I earned $15,000.  And a fair bit of new gear was the efficient and reasonably prices REI ger.  ifind this diary long on stereotypes, but with less awareness of the complexity here.  The idea that conservation is somehow only an elite ideal is kind of weird to my ears

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:36:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep. For the urbanite on a budget.... (5+ / 0-)

          ...a backpacking trip in a National Park or a nice long day-hike are the cheapest vacations around.

          Once you own all the gear (or know someone you can borrow it from), the only cost for a week's vacation is gas to get there, a backcountry permit (if that's even necessary), and grocery-store food. You carry your lodging with you.

          It's much less expensive than flying off halfway around the world or hitting some tropical paradise.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:12:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I camped in college when a bunch of us (0+ / 0-)

            would pile into one car with a tent and maybe packs if we were backpacking. We'd chip in for gas and food. I camp now when I'm retired and on a comfortable income. My sons who have minimum wage jobs grew up camping and they camp now. It's one recreation they can afford.

            I think the biggest factor is just to know that the parks are there and that there are ways you can get there and use them with a minimum of expense. Then just do it whether you have expensive equipment or not.

            working for a world that works for everyone ...

            by USHomeopath on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:24:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I live in a big city, NY, and often (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          use nearby national parks to go birding. You can even get to them by public transportation.  Many of my city;s landmarks are run by the Dept of the Interior and that includes the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. None of these are limited to the elite wearing REI clothes,

          •  Look at who you see there and what they drive (0+ / 0-)

            and wear.

            At the National Park and National Forests close to me all adults usually are wearing over a thousand dollars in clothes alone, they drive SUVs worth more than the average household income, and the entry fee is more than an hours wages for the average person, but only ten minutes of their time.

            Similar to NYC the area close to me known as "Boulder" has some of the most unequal income distribution in a country known for unequal wealth.

            What seems like not much money to a wealthy person is too much for one of more modest means. And to a wealthy person, they are simply "middle class".

            How big is your personal carbon footprint?

            by ban nock on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 05:20:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  With budget cuts access to the parks (6+ / 0-)

      now cost where it never did before. Many people have lost access.  

      Washington State now has a discover pass system. For $30 per year or $10 per visit to park your car in places where the only way to get there is to drive. I understand, well I don't, I think we should have instituted an income tax but instead they cut all the funding for everything. Parks require maintenance. Maintenance requires funding. None of that change the fact that many people can not afford $30 per year. These same people really can't afford $10 per visit.

      •  There are lots of exemptions for the (6+ / 0-)

        Discover Pass, including limited income senior citizens, disabled veterans, those with disabled parking passes.

        Can't qualify for those? Volunteering as few as 24 hours (total) can get you a free annual pass. That's a pretty good deal.

        Instituting taxes would harm those who can't afford them; WA is not going to do income taxes, so any other taxes we do will be regressive taxes that harm low-income folks.

        User fees work pretty well because those who use the amenities support them.

         And btw, many (if not most) WA parks have parking outside the park that you can park your car and walk in. Rangers never say anything but "hi" and ask you if you need a map or brochure. I've walked my dogs in and around most WA state parks, often because we're camping there, but not always. We walk out of the park, in, and around. Different rangers are on duty when we leave and then again when we enter.  They have no idea where we parked, if we paid, or what.  Their jobs aren't really to be fee collectors.

        © grover

        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 11:06:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I just went to the funeral service of an old (7+ / 0-)

      friend whose life's work was mentoring non-wealthy kids in canoeing, hiking, and the like.  That is not how he mostly made his living, but it was central to who he was.  He was a wonderful man, incredibly generous.  And he left two sheds full, full of gear.  I think there are no offers to take up where he left off.  

    •  one could take the MTA North out of Grand Central (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and get off at the Appalachian Trail.  Proceed to hike north to Main or south to Georgia.

  •  Or make your own gear (9+ / 0-)

    backpacking light forums has all sorts of information. I have made several tarps, quilts and am working on a new backpack now. This is the only way I can carry a lighter pack (because I am old) and not spend lots of $ at REI.

    "Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall" - President Obama, January 20, 2013

    by savano66 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 04:41:16 PM PST

  •  I didn't grow up camping (13+ / 0-)

    My mom thought that nature was a hotel hallway. mr.uintas is a big nature lover and when we got together he dragged me along. It only took one dragging, I love to be out there. Nature is my church.

    We used to go tent camping in an '82 Ford Escort Hatchback with two pup tents. One for me and mr.u and the other for our daughter and our dog. Somehow we fit everything we needed for a week in there and camped and fished and had the time of our lives.

    If the will is strong enough the way is there.

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 04:42:30 PM PST

  •  REI is a Co-op (11+ / 0-)

    I am not much of an outdoorsperson these days (an occasional car camping trip, that's it--my whitewater rafting days are behind me) but when I did a lot of that stuff i belonged to REI, and at least at that time they were a co-op. A co-op is member-owned. There is some kind of election to create a board of directors. There is probably something in the bylaws that lets members bring policies forth, etc.

    A co-op is by definition non-profit and organized for the benefit of its members. I haven't been convinced that REI is the evil capitalist store that some make it out to be. Yes, they now have fairly large and beautiful stores in places like Santa Monica, where I live, and yes, a lot of what they sell is precious, but I remember 40 years ago watching a friend weigh every item he wanted to take in his backpack. That's who REI is for.

    I'll take a Secretary of the Interior who likes to go camping, who appreciates the wilderness, and who has gone off the beaten path ANY DAY over one of the oil-squirting Republicans!

    "When you give back all your ill-gotten gains, you're a reformed crook. When you keep most of the loot and only give back a small part of it, you're a philanthropist." - Alfred E. Newman

    by Abstract668 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 05:08:53 PM PST

    •  I don't think the fact that it is a coop (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, salmo, Miggles, nzanne

      (of which I am a member) invalidates the claim that it is mainly people who are better off who tend to benefit from it.

      Also, a co-op isn't necessarily non-profit. In some cases, it's a for profit business where the co-op members are the shareholders. I get a dividend from REI every year, which I think is based on how much I have purchased, which I can use to spend on more stuff from them. But many people who shop there aren't members, and those of us who are benefit from their purchases.

      "Let's do this!" - Leeroy Jenkins

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:29:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree "that's who REI is for" (5+ / 0-)

      Instead of weighing everything I toss it in the second hand Kelty I bought in Salvy Army and just go.

      I do belong to REI, and I do buy there when I have to get something I can't get cheaper elsewhere, but it is very elitist. When I walk in I understand that it's for maybe the 5%.

      When we can stop buying all this crap to do something as simple as go outdoors we'll be a lot better off.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:52:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep. One thing I have noticed is that between (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elizaveta, grover, ban nock

        50-60% of REI's floor space is devoted to clothing, not equipment -- judging from the one that I go to.  And a lot of that clothing is what I would consider casual and not essential to some rugged, outdoor task.  Also, I have noticed over the years that REI's climbing department has shrunk to a smaller and smaller corner of their store.  And this is kind of sad since they were originally founded in the 1930's as a climbers' co-op.   I consider REI pretty much along the lines of Hudson Trail Outfitters or EMS.  The co-op structure doesn't really matter that much.  It's not like REI is all that price competitive.  The rebate barely covers sales tax, and it isn't a real rebate.  It's a voucher for future purchases.

      •  hear hear (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elizaveta, grover, ban nock

        I joined REI in 1966 or thereabouts, when their catalog mostly contained climbing gear that I wouldn't have known how to use ('course, I was only in my early teens),and was printed in lousy half-tone on newsprint.  Number 108551 I am, still, but I avoid the place like the plague, in particular the flagship store in Seattle.  Basically it's Cabella's for the urban elite (or wannabee elite).  

        That said, I still use the cruiser pack my Pa bought in 1968 (mine disintegrated, more or less, at the mercy of luggage handlers overseas), and I can still smell the original store on Pine Street, a mixture nylon, boot grease and early freeze-dried meals that, today, would be banned as rank poison.

        The wilderness doesn't much care what you wear on your feet or how you carry your chow; all it cares about is the respect you accord it.

        The truth shall make ye fret... -William DeWorde

        by flagpole on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:25:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  REI, The North Face, Patagonia, etc (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ban nock, bigtimecynic

          A couple decades ago, it was decided that performance clothing was "cool." That pretty much doomed performance clothing at the entry level, unless you know the rocks to look under for gems.

          Prices stayed the same, but quality spiraled. Production was offshored. To get truly reliable performance clothing in the "popular" names, you often can't even get it at REI unless you special order it,  or you can buy it at more speciality stores or on the manufacture's website.

          I remember when I used to walk through REI and could always find something I could use. I'm a total gearhead; it's not hard for me to find an upgrade that i think is pretty swell.

          But the last 6 or so times I've gone to REI, I've wandered around and just left feeling like I left Nordstrom: lots of pretty clothes, but absolutely nothing I need.

          When they started holding regular sales like regular stores, it said that REI really didn't want to differentiate itself anymore.

          © grover

          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 11:29:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cabellas? (0+ / 0-)

          We visited Cabella's mothership store in Michigan last year and it was nothing like an REI.  The largest department was guns and it had more stuff animals than a big city museum.  

          Let's see how she does.  I'm happy to see an outdoorsperson as Sec of Int, regardless if she's a coop capitalist.  

  •  Public lands are for everyone (11+ / 0-)

    and there are hundreds of millions of acres of them in the federal lands treasure chest. There are also significant treasures in our state and local parks, forests, and wildlife refuges.

    It doesn't take a lot of gear or expense to enjoy the recreational opportunities offered by these lands, as I think Tim Egan alluded to when he mentioned birdwatching and hiking as examples.

    Sally Jewel seems like she has a personal interest in the outdoors and in outdoor recreation, and not just in far off places. It seems like she understands the importance of urban parks, and readily accessible low-impact recreation on our public lands. I salute that.

    Any reversal of the long history of dig it up, dam it, and cut it down priority of of our federal lands will be welcome by millions of Americans.

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 05:30:45 PM PST

    •  No car has killed my opportunities. (0+ / 0-)

      In some parts of the country having a car is indeed a huge distinction in status.

      Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change -- George Monbiot.

      by Nulwee on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 12:37:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have attended Colorado Wildlife Commission (7+ / 0-)

    meetings.  One of their biggest concerns is that urban youth have no appreciation or understanding of wild lands.  In fact, they are generally afraid of non-urban landscapes.   In my opinion, it's because most have little to no opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.  Artificial entertainment rules their lives.

    So, large urban parks with more natural landscapes are critical, as is education in schools.  Anyone read "Last Child in the Woods?"  It is about the social and psychological impact of nature on children.  The ideas in that book are being promoted by the  Children and Nature Network. Take a look and see if what they do might work for your schools.

  •  Help Wanted: Sec of Interior. Easteners need (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    not apply.  

    I live in the West.  But I really don't understand why we can't have a Secretary of Interior from East of the Mississppi River.

    Public lands belong to the entire nation.  Not just to western rednecks with ATV's and 4 WD trucks.  I don't care if your backyard butts up against public land...that doesn't make it yours.

    I don't think we've had even a passing grade Sec of Interior since Bruce Babbitt.   And we'd have to go back much further to name a truly exceptional one.

    Obama's choice signifies his indifference to the outdoors.  He would probably give more thought to the HUD Secretary, coming from Chicago.  But I don't think he gives much thought to environmentalism.

    He only understands the Golden Rule since around the mid 60's:  "You have to appoint a Westerner to this cabinet position."

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:14:14 PM PST

    •  Babbit was an idiot, I erased what I originally (0+ / 0-)

      wrote. It's been years undoing some of the damage he did.

      If you drive too close to my diesel I tromp on the gas and the incomplete combustion sends ya a black cloud of soot.

      Obama so far has been the best environmental president since Carter. Carry in Parks, shoot wolves, protected Wyoming Range, yeehaa!

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:39:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "It's been years undoing some of the damage he did (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock

        Can you please be more specific?

        •  the reintroduction of a very large very prolific (0+ / 0-)

          carnivore into the ecosystems of the Northern Rocky Mountains has caused crashes in ungulate populations that took almost a hundred years to build up. It cost millions, alienated the inhabitants of three states (well maybe six or seven now) put cracks in the Endangered Species Act, has caused a rift with the people who do the lions share of funding for wildlife (hunters), and we don't even have control of the thing yet.

          When entire states get screwed over like that they begin to think "well maybe big oil isn't so bad".

          He blew it.

          Look at Utah, they want to take the National Lands. They hate us. They just want to go camping in their desert and we make all kinds of laws outlawing everything.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 03:48:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're smarter than this, bn (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pigpaste, dewley notid
            Look at Utah, they want to take the National Lands. They hate us. They just want to go camping in their desert
            Yeah, it's all about camping.

            Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

            by Mark Mywurtz on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 07:35:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But Mark, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mark Mywurtz

              don't you like to mine a little uranium whenever you camp?

            •  There is currently a big fight in Utah going on (0+ / 0-)

              regarding changing the status of all the lands surrounding Canyonland, Arches, out to the Lasalles, and south to places I haven't been. Some users want to make it roadless but mountain bike-able and raft-able and commercially adventure trip-able, but not drivable, even where it is currently drivable. People in Utah, who have been using those lands for recreating for generation, don't want to be locked out of those lands. And yes, a lot of people like taking the kids out throwing up a tent, and breaking out the BBQ.

              I am smarter, I've lived there.

              How big is your personal carbon footprint?

              by ban nock on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 04:48:49 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  wow interesting alternative view (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, OldJackPine, dewley notid

            of wolf reintroduction?

            I understood most biologists thought it improved the environment.

            fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

            by mollyd on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 10:39:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  example (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kyril, OldJackPine, dewley notid

              "Ecological Benefits and Ecosystems Services
              Age structure, health and foraging competition by ungulate herds. As a keystone species, wolves have a dynamic relationship with and influence on their prey. A commonly held assumption among early wolf biologists was that wolves selectively hunt the weakest members of their prey species, and ongoing studies of restored wolf populations demonstrate this to be generally true. Selection of individual prey takes place through a sifting and sorting process that includes testing a herd, identifying weak individuals and pursuing the inferior animals (Halfpenney 2003). In Yellowstone National Park, necropsies of elk killed by wolves showed that animals killed were very old, with wolf-killed cow elk (Cervus elaphus) averaging 14 years of age (Mech et al. 2001). Necropsied remains also reveal that many of the animals killed by wolves have age-related infirmities, such as arthritis, disease, injuries or severely depleted fat reserves (Mech 1970, Stahler et al. 2006). Removing these unhealthy, aging, Transactions of the 72nd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference v 301 postreproductive-age individuals from the population results in the availability of more forage for younger, healthier, more reproductively active members of the herd.
                      Recent research suggests that wolves could substantially reduce prevalence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk populations (Wildet al. 2005). The extent of such an impact, however, remains to be seen. So far, it is based exclusively on results of simulation modeling because of the current lack of overlap between CWD and occupied wolf habitat. Predation by wolves on deer and elk also can also provide ecosystem services, as defined above. Such predation reduces forage competition between livestock and other ungulates, such as deer and elk, that constitute wolves’ primary prey, with potentially positive impacts on livestock production (Unsworthet al. 2005). In some locations, reintroducing wolves is likely to generate net economic benefits by lowering densities of ungulates that have created financial burdens on stakeholders exposed to costs from ungulate over-abundance (Nilsen et al. 2007)."

              fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

              by mollyd on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 10:47:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Defenders? Why not the NRA? (0+ / 0-)

                Defenders (of certain kinds) of wildlife is a donations driven litigation org.
                try scientific peer reviewed.
                I'm singularly unimpressed when someone uses advocacy groups. But I see it all the time. Usually I just don't even respond. It's like trying to tell a cat fetishist that their trap nueter release cats are causing wide ecological damage. One can't convince emotion.

                How big is your personal carbon footprint?

                by ban nock on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 04:42:16 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  But the Mech paper you site makes many of the same (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  points that mollyd's citation does.  Mech is merely pointing out that understanding wolf impacts (good or bad - a judgement call in many cases) is a complicated thing. On balance the restoration of wolves to North America is a conservation triumph.  They do, however, require management like most other large native mammals.

                  Hunters do themselves no favors when they assert that some native animals are worthy (aka those we can hunt) while others are unworthy (aka those we don't or those that compete with us).

                  •  Mech points out that many affects might well (0+ / 0-)

                    not be true that mollyd cited. He refutes them not by judgement calls but by a preponderance of scientific research often from later studies conducted by the same people. Mech is adamant that the idea of some sort of trophic cascade in the northern rockies is far from proven, and might well not be true at all.

                    Wolves weren't restored to North America. North American has always had robust and plentiful wolf populations. Wolves were restored to the Northern Rocky Mountain region of the Lower 48, where they had been extirpated. But in the larger sense you are right. the reintroduction to the area you meant has been very successful. Wether or not it has been a conservation triumph is yet to be seen. If it causes the destruction of the ESA I wouldn't call that a triumph.

                    If I had to guess the general attitude of hunters in the states wolves currently exist I'd say based on license sales and how they vote is that they wish for state management. They also would like wolf populations not to negatively affect ungulate populations or hunting opportunity. Most people I've talked to who hunted the recent seasons said they did so to reduce impacts, not because of a dislike of the species. Most hunters it would be safe to say like all species, including large predators.

                    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

                    by ban nock on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 05:40:59 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Mech is making an arguement... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ban nock, dewley notid

                      ...and he is citing published research in support.  There is no new research in the paper you cite.  Despite Mech's long and storied career in wolf research, his is not the last word.  He is making a judgement about the state of the science. There are equally credentialed ecologists who point to the same body of published science and argue that wolf-caused trophic cascades are real (in Yellowstone and elsewhere) and that wolves are having a positive effect on plant communities.  This is an active debate among specialists on both sides of the Atlantic and has been for most of Mech's carreer.   It is not settled science.

                      I reacted because your defense for calling Sec. Babbit an "idiot" pointed to his support for wolf recovery.  Whatever else Bruce Babbit may be, I think his support for wolf recovery was visionary and laudable (my opinion).

                      Ungulate populations have not "crashed" -  there's evidence of declines in some areas and research support for behavioral changes that might make them less visible to hunters.  I am a hunter and speaking as a hunter, hyperbole about wolf effects (real or imagined) runs counter to the Leopoldian hunter-conservationist that I think should be the model.

                      Love your commentary ban nock.  Not trying to pick a fight.

                      •  Nor am I (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        I've been reading a lot on the subject lately mostly due to this paper and the reaction it generated. I have a post almost ready to go primarily on this paper.

                        OK I was too harsh on Babbit, but I do think they handled the reintroduction poorly. The states were pushed into it and then the feds and the NGOs didn't keep their word.

                        Some populations have experienced severe decline. I'm not sure if the Madison Firehole herd exists any more. Ungulate populations can show everything from no sign of predation at all, all the way to almost disappearing, depending on other contributing factors. Long after Leopold's green fire moment he wrote a nuts and bolts chapter on predator management, it's the blueprint the states of the N Rockies are using.

                        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

                        by ban nock on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 05:52:41 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

            •  you understand wrong (0+ / 0-)

              pop environmentalism does not science make.

              How big is your personal carbon footprint?

              by ban nock on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 04:43:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Far and away most professional biologists and ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mollyd, dewley notid

                researchers are supportive of wolf restoration.

                •  I don't understand your comment (0+ / 0-)

                  I'd say just about everyone is supportive of wolf restoration.

                  Now that they have been restored they need to be managed like all other large mammals.

                  Where some scientists, (but not most leading wolf researchers) have gone astray is in slipping into species advocacy, and letting it color their science. It has led to some humorous mistakes.

                  How big is your personal carbon footprint?

                  by ban nock on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 05:45:27 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I tend to believe that professional biologists ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ban nock

                    ... take a more holistic view - hence their support for the restoration of top predators where feasible.  Thats what I meant.  Colored science in the realm of published predator research is pretty rare given the rigorous peer review it undergoes (my opinion).

  •  Forest under Assault by Recreational visitors (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldJackPine, ban nock, liz, GreenMother, nzanne

    Here in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, along Nimblewill Creek the national forest is under assault. By constant abuse from recreational users.

    Nimblewill is but one of the streams that flow from Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the fabled Appalachian Trail. Within 100 miles are five million people. Most don't even know how to get here, but from those that do come, the mountains are getting destroyed--from all sides.

    While much of Georgia's 800,000+ acre Chattahoochee National Forest is remote, sort of, getting to any of it means getting run off the road by SUVs, dodging careening mountain bikes, seeing many formerly pristine places littered, and now confronting mega-scale commercial recreation.

    Coming up, the February 16th Southern Cyclocross, is an example. A commercial bicycle race that may have 500 riders and a couple of hundred support and tag-alongs. Real damage. Racing on public roads, sanctioned by the USFS. Far more damage than hiking, hunting and fishing ever presented, and now on a scale that almost rivals logging. The same is going on in Western North Carolina (WNC) which has declared recreation as the primary use (ahead of timber) for the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests.

    Nationally, commercial "flow" trails--high speed downhills for bicycles only--for a fee-- are being allowed in wilderness areas, formerly protected. (see: )

    Of course, it could be worse. Like snow made from sewage, which the sacred Indian lands are getting, with a USFS lease for more downhill ski land in Arizona. see:

    The famed Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area, another wilderness forest--a designation that should preclude chemicals, chainsaws, and DYNAMITE--recently had the dead and dying trees blown up by dynamite to keep the wilderness trail open for hikers to experience nature, without the improbable risk of a deadfall. This was a plan promoted by the local chamber of commerce. (see:

    And, with budget cutbacks and all these people who don't follow forest ethics, laws, or common sense, comes crime. Car beak-ins at trailheads, and even drilling out gas tanks to steal gas occurs in these woods. Besides getting run off the road by an urbanite who has barnstormed the mountain on their mountain bike and must get back to the city quick, getting shot is a real risk. Urban folk think you can just shoot anywhere in these woods.

    There are few law officers of any type in the public forest, with all the budget cutbacks at all levels. Here in North Georgia, we lost one of our six federal (USFS) officers when he was shot in the head by a drinking poacher hunting at night at a day-use only equestrian trailhead. After shooting the officer, the shooter waited an hour and half before calling 911, while Officer Chris Upton died. For this, the shooter only got a five year negotiated sentence. Seriously, here's the FBI press release:

    By far, the illegal 4WD and ATV riders are the biggest scourge. They have the run of much of the forest, as those USFS Ford Expeditions the law drives can't pursue them.

    Next up, though, are horses. And more horses. And big horse trucks and trailers. The USFS, unaware of the scale of the problem, lets horses ride anywhere--overland, whether riparian buffer or not. The Great Smokies, even the National Park, is being wasted by this. AFter all, this is the most visited park and forest in the eastern US, so why not let it be  bombed by horse poop by the rich riders who can drive their 36 foot goose neck trailers with suites for their after-the-forest comfort. Don't mind the roar of generators and heat pumps along with the diesels.

    If you love the forest, walk in it, from the borders, not from a trailhead deep in the woods that you drove for miles at speed in your SUV to get to. Don't join those who are loving nature to death, especially these urban elite. They don't seem to have good manners. They think they are living an REI ad. Or a Jeep ad.

    •  Sad. Similar pressures here in the Great Lakes. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hubbard Squash

      We also have snowmobiles (Grrr.).  Managing these competing interests is a thankless task.  I wish managers would draw a distinction between people who use their gear to enjoy the outdoors and people who use the outdoors to enjoy their gear - especially when their gear is noisy, smelly, and destructive like ATVs, snowmobiles etc.

    •  Until your last bit, I was with you (7+ / 0-)

      There are plenty of rural people, small town people, and suburban people who have ATV's, horses, etc., and yet you blame the awful abuse of our national lands on "urban elite."

      I'm not elite, but I am urban.

      Let's blame the people who do the bad things, not a whole class of folks, most of whom have nothing to do with it.

      We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

      by Urban Owl on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:35:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree. And this has been illustrated very (3+ / 0-)

        starkly in the case of Big Bend National Park in Texas.  When the park administrators hold "town halls" in west Texas, the concerns are about ranching and ATV use on park lands.  When they hold those town halls in Austin, the citizenry are more interested in preservation and ecology.

      •  But that's where the people are from, not here... (0+ / 0-)

        Your point is taken...I shouldn't blame the people categorically based on where they are from, or the SUVs they drive, as the few--that's very few, relatively, "locals" can be bad players in the woods, too.

        All are welcome if they come and go low impact, and don't poison the forest while they are here.

        My point being, based on the car tags and masses that I dodge speeding on the roads or cluttering the forest during these commercial mega-events, are from the urban areas. The population of the five counties here in North Georgia that touches on Springer Mountain doesn't match the population of one corporate city limit's population in the Metro Atlanta suburbs, where many of these barnstorming forest visitors come from.

        The locals with their mudbogging 4WDs and ATVs and horses off trail need to be held to account, too. But there aren't too many of them and they don't have the incomes to support all this woods travel, compared to the impact of say, one Jeep club caravan from Atlanta.

        And the locals sure aren't the ones bringing these toxic pesticides into the forest to save this or that newly designated plant that's been declared an unwanted invasive immigrant. We know the forest is where our water comes from, as it does for Metro Atlanta.

        If Interior keeps the path of commercial development like REI partners with (I'm a member since '77) and we get more projects like dynamite to fell trees in WILDERNESS areas and more chemicals to groom the forest like a golf course, we won't have a natural forest. Don't treat the forest like a golf course.

        (I've been in the woods for five decades and my family roots go back for generations here, so I know what's changed. More non-locals. ATVs, 4WDs, and big horse trailers are the worst of it.

      •  As far as I've been able to tell... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pigpaste, kyril

        ... not all that many urbanites have horses and ATVs.

        The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

        by A Citizen on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 03:31:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dewley notid

          pretty much guarantee you the horses and ATVs aren't coming out of the cities. Neither are the RVs or most of the SUVs.

          As general guidelines:

          - If it's too big or too dirty to store in a walk-in closet, and it can't be safely and legally parked in an underground garage or a cramped curbside parking spot on a narrow road with limited permit-only parking, it almost certainly didn't come out of a city.

          - If it's too big or too unsightly to keep in a small basement or garage, and it can't be safely, legally, and attractively parked in a one-car garage or a curbside spot on a narrow road, it almost certainly didn't come out of an inner suburb.

          The people with the horses and the RVs and the ATVs are coming, at a minimum, from the outer suburbs. Some of the SUVs may come from the inner suburbs and possibly outer cities. Urbanites live in high-density housing; we don't have anywhere to put any of that crap.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 03:20:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Actually (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miggles, roadbear, northsylvania

      Those urban elites are probably a lot more sensitive to the leave no trace ethos than the rural and suburban guys with their horses and ATVs you complain of

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:52:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not an urbanite (0+ / 0-)

        and either are many of my friends and we are very sensitive to leave no trace.

        I'm rural, becoming suburban because of growth in my county, but I don't go to the woods with ATVs.  

        I don't like the generalization, I don't like the assumption that because I'm not an urbanite and my recreating is low-key that I'm less responsible or less of a voice. Feeling protective of many of my friends, too when people start generalizing about the rural/urban thing.

        •  Then why do it? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Citizen, pigpaste, kyril

          The diary is what started this whole "urbanites are selfish rich people" business.  My point is that if you look, ATVs and SUV are more common in rural areas than among urbanites.  The comment above was getting that part wrong.  That's not to say that most people from both areas are not responsible only that to cast urbanites as uniquely irresponsible doesn't comport with the facts

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 09:16:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The only fix is limiting all transportation except (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      high uintas, northsylvania

      by foot.

      Lots of places out here are very restricted off road use, and that includes the bikes. Horses can be a big problem but are harder to control as they are the really wealthy and they can go in Wilderness.

      Good luck with your woods, you need it.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:11:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Forests not under Interior (0+ / 0-)

      Talk to Vilsack about the ATV laws in the forests. National Forests have a very different mission than any of the lands managed by the Department of Interior, which includes more priority on extraction, motorized recreation, etc. Since Bush blocked the Roadless Act, most forests have established their ATV/off road policies based on local input.

  •  I have been a REI member since 1976 (8+ / 0-)

    I read your diary, and read it again, and still don't understand the problem with the Jewell nomination.  The principal users of the National Forest near me are urbanites out for a weekend hike or paddle, addressing that nature deficit in their lives.  I have met lots of them.  The kids from South Boston who were amazed by the stars because they had never seen them were memorable, and hardly effete or elite.  Those visitors are, or were, also ministers, firemen, welders, carpenters, shop owners, nurses, bicycle parts salesmen, and engineers, just to name a few I can recall from recent meetings - not a bank executive or Rockefeller in the lot.  There are tens of thousands of them coming to camp during the warmer months because it is what they call a one tank vacation (a tank of gas will take them round trip from Boston and back).  The common threads are a middle class or working class background and a hunger to connect with what passes for Nature in the places they can get to.  Surely, you aren't objecting to a new Secretary that may regard them as an important constituency.

    Let's turn then to the question of the cost and quality of gear, and the extent to which that is a bar to more democratic use of our parks and forests.  More often than not, the gear our campers, hikers, and paddlers use is from WalMart or the like, and well, it is pitiful.  Tons of it are just dumped after a single use, and I don't blame them.  It's junk - second rate stuff that failed on the first use and delivered what is often a miserable experience.  While low priced, that stuff is comparatively expensive.  Worse, it discourages huge numbers of people from repeating and expanding their appreciation of the natural resources we hold in common.  If we are going to throw metaphorical rocks at gear sellers, start there, please.

    By way of contrast, I still have much of the gear I bought in 1976 when I became a REI member.  It still works just fine.  I have bought more than a few bits since then too.  That stuff gets used.  Things like the stoves show a few dents and scratches.  The packs are worn and sweat stained.  The long underwear may no longer be appreciated by my better half, but I don't look like I did then either.  I bought that gear from REI because I was not able to find comparable gear locally and I like the Co-Op.  My favorite stoves (both from REI), for example, are Swedish and Austrian, and that particular set of ichy scratchy longies says "Made in USA" on the label - I just checked.  They were worth every penny.

    I have bought other stuff too from competitors: outfitters like Cabelas, and Herter's before them, and L. L. Bean's.  Very little of that remains, for one reason or another.  This is not a knock on their wares, but they didn't last for decades.  Over 35 to 40 years, buying a few things here and there every year adds up to a fairly comprehensive sample of American outdoor equipment.  The economic and performance case for quality gear is pretty strong.  For years, we had a local consignment shop for that sort of gear, making it available at very reasonable prices.  I think the woman who ran it was put out of business by the Play it Again Sports shop that moved in right next door.  For whatever reason, that too closed, and there is no similar shop to take its place.  Too bad.

    The problem I see with the recreational users of our public lands is racial and cultural - the user base is too white.  Except for the ages, our campers look like the attendees at the GOP's convention.  The GOP's demographic problem is also a problem for our Parks and Forests, to say nothing of the implications of exclusion of a major segment of our population.  For corporations exploiting those lands, that demography may be seen as an opportunity.  Perhaps that is why the Salazar tenure did so little to bring about changes.  The new Secretary should be thinking about how her Department can do better

  •  Yes, I think you are worrying needlessly (6+ / 0-)

    Jewell'ss nomination has not even a hint of limiting access to public lands to wealthy people, whether urban or rural.

    I think the point of that observation was that those of us who are urbanites (a majority of Americans) have been entirely ignored in Dept. Interior policy and practice. Somehow, only the state governments, tenants and license holders have been considered.

    Someone who wants to see more of us out there enjoying these shared treasures is a great pick for Secretary. Some of us will camp, some will do other things, but we won't be extracting-for-private-profit.

    I can't afford to get to wilderness very often, but I sure want my tax dollars to make sure it's there when and if I do get there. And that it is there for future generations too.

    Disclosure: I am a member of REI, I shop their sales, and I don't think it is true that their stuff is all made in China. It's well-made, and they are good about handling customer complaints.

    I hope you will find that Ms. Jewell is a good Sec.Int. for you, I am happy with this nomination, unlike some others!

    We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

    by Urban Owl on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:29:24 PM PST

    •  But what about Toxic Chemicals in the Forest, REI? (0+ / 0-)

      Here in North Georgia, REI is a supporter of USFS toxics-based programs to push back against "non-native" "invasive" species.

      Poisoning the forest to save it. A huge new market for herbicides. The USFS and even consider NATIVE species, like rhododendron, to be invasive. Toxic chemicals are always the favored method of "attacking" the problem.

      The very poisons killing bees, neonicotinoids, are being spread all over our southern forests , to kill the hemlock wooly adelgid, the emerald ash borer, whatever. Big Bucks for Big Farma Chemical. The USFS is part of the USDA, but Interior is in on this too.

      Much more about this issue can be read at Death of a Million Trees,  Why must be poison our public lands? I expect the REI CEO to accelerate this effort. The stimulus monies certainly have.

      The spread of GM plants on public lands has also been an objective of the Obama administration. After unleashing this artificial threat to the public lands, the courts ruled in favor of nature, not that the synthetic genes are getting captured:

      •  You used quotations around non-native and invasive (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock, northsylvania

        Surely you are not implying that non-native and invasive plants are not a threat to our forests?

        •  Any North Georgian who actually thinks... (3+ / 0-)

          ...that invasive plants aren't a threat, obviously hasn't been outside lately to see the kudzu that is slowly enveloping the entire state.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 10:16:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Really? Kudzu only kills in horror films (0+ / 0-)

            The kudzu I grew up with hasn't moved much. In five decades. It's part of nature, and presumptuous that I know better what it's right to grow and trap carbon and nitrogen is.

            "Invasives" fill in where disturbances occur inn the ecosystem. A valuable service, as these disruptions are almost always man-caused.

            Killing kudzu was a new market for post-Vietnam herbicides, when the war ended. Now with the kudzu bug (a "non-native invasive" flying insect from Asia) the kudzu insect is a market for more insecticides. Of course kudzu was promoted by the USDA, as was bamboo, or autumn olive that's planted on "wildlife feed plots" in the forest only to be 'herbicided' when ideology changes to call it "invasive." Calling native plants invasive is the new market. "Hack and squirt" is the new "forest management".

            Non-native invasive species wars are an ideology. Compared to the war on human immigrants--similar prejudices.



            and especially this book: Peter Coates, American Perceptions of Immigrants and Invasive Species, UC Press, 2007


            •  That's a ridiculous argument. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OldJackPine, pigpaste, kyril
              Non-native invasive species wars are an ideology. Compared to the war on human immigrants--similar prejudices.
              Except that human immigrants are human beings, capable of free will and endowed with innate rights, and deserve to be treated as such.

              Non-native invasive species have no rights—and unlike in the case of human immigrants, non-native invasive species often do choke out native species.

              The fact that the kudzu invasion started over 50 years ago doesn't make kudzu native to north Georgia.

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 07:38:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, let REI members know (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock, roadbear, northsylvania

        I can't be the only one who would question use of herbicides, especially neonicotinoids.

        But we need a source for your statement that REI supports this.

        And we also need suggestions of alternatives, invasive non-native species are a real problem. I try to support something positive if I am writing a "stop that," letter.

        We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

        by Urban Owl on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:00:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  good link though, ,, that's an old hook n bullet (0+ / 0-)


        They have a Q and A with Biden for people to participate in right now about gunz.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 07:17:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I felt the same way when I read it this morning (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, salmo, northsylvania

    and yes, when I go drive out to the National forest close by here we are priced out. It's like ten bucks just to drive in, seems like camping everywhere is by reservation or something, gone are the days anyone could just drive to a National Forest and camp and hike.

    I"m not sure what Jewel is going to be about. Maybe drilling and mountain biking. She worked on Obama's Great Outdoors initiative which is a program to encourage low income and minority youth from urban areas to enjoy the outdoors.

    Most of America is more in my income range, below 50K. We just want a place we can drive out to and camp with the kids. We don't spend on expensive conveyances or trail run with heart monitors and camelbacks.

    Sometimes the NYT is very elitist, same with many places, ahem, ahem.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:29:26 PM PST

    •  The boundary of the White Mountain National Forest (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is maybe a 20 minute bike ride from here.  And, we can drive out and through it anytime we like, except for winter when the gates are closed and access is by snowmobile, snowshoes, or xcountry skis.  It's quite true that a nominal fee applies to use of their campground facilities, but if someone wants to hike a mountain trail or swim in the Emerald Pool, there isn't even a parking fee.  I should add that my visit to Acadia National Park last summer included no gates and fees.  I did not visit all of it, and I did not drive up Cadillac Mountain, for example, but it was a very open and user friendly place.  It was not cheap though, the private campground operators we spoke with wanted to charge between $65 and $80 per night for a spot to park our truck camper.  I do not doubt that you experience a very different administrative structure where you live.  I wonder what the overarching policy looks like.  

      •  Cuts in funding to National Forest have made user (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        fees part of the landscape. We live outside Denver metro. A huge city all want to enjoy the outdoors and to drive as short a time as possible. To pay for the roads and trash pick up they contract out to a private company to collect entry and camping fees.

        Another complaint I have is that they purposefully build sharp ditches so that people can't just pull off anywhere to camp and hike. You are funneled into parking lots so your trash and impact can be dealt with.

        If we drive further all is as it used to be. Camp anywhere, do anything as long as you don't wreck the place.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 03:58:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks. I think this comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock

      more than any others helps fine tune my point. It was Egan's tone and focus on urbanites as the unheard majority.  Anyone who isn't part of the oil and mining culture is the unheard minority. We all count.

      You don't have to be an urbanite to enjoy the great outdoors or to be concerned about conservation. You can even be a rancher.

      Getting outdoors doesn't have to be expensive and you don't have to be outfitted by REI.

      I doubt that public lands will be reserved for the elite - but I did think that Egan's blog sounded elitist.

  •  I will stay out of the fray about Jewell and REI (11+ / 0-)

    since I do not know a great deal about either. Instead I will focus on access and cost.

    I'm in the enviable position of being paid to work in the woods. There are plenty of days that aren't all that much fun, but I won't get into that right now.

    There are more wild and semi-wild lands than most people realize. There are national wildlife refuges, BLM lands, state lands, county lands, plus huge blocks of privately owned timberlands. These are owned by timber companies, investment groups, families, and individuals.

    Gaining access to the private lands isn't always possible, because much of it is gated and leased to hunting clubs. But some of it is accessible; sometimes it's a matter of locating the person in charge, and asking.

    I avoid the national parks and the busy national forest recreation sites. Often I do not see another person all day long.

    As for expense, I'm the master of cheap trips and cheap camping. For most purposes, you don't need anything fancy. Some of my gear is 30 to 40 years old. Those old Coleman stoves and backpacking stoves last forever, and sometimes you can find them cheap at garage sales. When I need quality, I buy the good stuff. But it's not the end of the world if you do not have it.

    Now, if you have no car, it's harder to get to the hinterlands. But you can join a camping, hiking, canoeing, cycling, etc. group and barter for the ride. Wash everyone's dishes if you have to.

    If all else fails, hop on a bicycle and see the country. I did that when I was a broke college student, and it was one of the most awesome experiences of my life.

  •  One thing I would add is that it's the urbanites (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoogieMama, pigpaste

    (or more properly recreational users) who have to pay entry fees to even get on such land.  The ranchers and miners don't have to pay every time they drive on BLM land.  Sure, they pay those cents on a dollar fees that were last updated in 1890, but those amount to nothing.  So it's like we pay the most to use the land but get little to no voice in its preservation, especially in the case of BLM.

  •  We are all part of the unheard majority (2+ / 0-)
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    northsylvania, BoogieMama

    We all count. Anyone who isn't part of the oil and mining culture is the unheard minority, not just urbanites who enjoy recreation.

    I doubt that public lands will ever be reserved for just the elite - and it doesn't have to cost tons to get outdoors and enjoy.

    Just thought Egan's focus on urbanites who recreate on public lands - tagging them as the unheard minority and excluding everyone else was elitist. Maybe not intentionally.

    Enjoying the discussion.

  •  I'm just not sure why urbanite = elite. (4+ / 0-)

    Or is it that you assume that Egan assumes they're all REI members and they shop there exclusively?

    Tim Egan is a Seattleite and an extraordinary nature/environmental write. He probably knows Jewell personally, or at least has met her. He may have some insight into what she brings to the job that we don't. Or at least, as a parochial Seattleite (we tend to be here) he wants everyone to admire her as much as we do here.

    He also knows that every weekend and many weekdays, rain, snow or (rarely) shine, Western Washingtonians are on rivers, rock faces, mountains, trails, on the ocean, the lakes and in the straits. Many of them are REI members and most of them are being very good stewards of public lands.

    I've had my REI membership for decades. But I prowl the local military surplus store for gear if I need any. I know all the great discount sellers of outdoor gear, including outlet stores. And I know that there are a few items you can't skimp on, so I don't. A closed cell foam pad keeps you warmer sleeping on snow than a Thermarest, and costs about 80% less.  But if you're snow camping, you need an excellent sleeping bag, especially if you sleep cold, like I do.

    The thing is, the public lands in the PNW are covered with urban and suburbanites much of the time (as well as rural folks when they aren't working farms and ranches. I grew up in a rural area. For fun, we went camping.) There's nothing elite about most of the folks I bump into (although, I'm not a downhill skier. That's always seemed way too front-country to me. ).

    Most of us are wearing ponytails and ballcaps and relatively cheapy sunglasses we just bought this year (because we lose them all the time here). The folks on the river wave. The folks in the campgrounds wave. The hikers nod as we pass each other. Many of us have our dogs with us.

    We look grungy and either sweaty or dripping wet from rain.

    Elite? Not so much.

    But we Pacific Northwesterners are passionate about our public lands.

    And Tim Egan is one of us.

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 12:29:55 AM PST

    •  My concern with Egan's piece (0+ / 0-)

      is that he tagged urbanites as the unheard majority. I think that's elitist because it excludes all of us who love the outdoors who aren't urbanites. He, perhaps unintentionally, creates an urban/rural divide and lumps ranchers in with the oil guys. Maybe often true, but not always.

      I'm also a PNWer, my dad became an REI member in the 40's at the small store on Pine. He had a 4-digit member number. So I get the camping in the rain and all that jazz and I get that image - though I'm not a Seattleite. There is life in the PNW beyond Seattle.

      I'm also not an urbanite, but I'm just as unheard over the roar of the oil companies as any urbanite.

      I have no argument with the nomination of Sally Jewel, I applaud it. But I think Egan's framing is off. And it comes off as elitist. The vision he conjures is of the well-off Seattleite or PDXer headed into the hills with pricey gear from REI and no thought to the cost of fuel to get there.

  •  Our family (0+ / 0-)

    spent several vacations camping because we enjoyed it and it was cheap. Sometimes we went to places like Gallatin, which wasn't exactly back country, but more back country than the state parks in Kentucky. The people we ran into were all over the map, from foreign tourists to local folks who just wanted to pitch a few tents and have a big gathering with their family and friends.
    I do know a few people who backpack extensively in places like the Sierras, and even one who belonged to REI back when it was a local store. I certainly wouldn't class them as elite either, unless by elite you mean educated people with temp jobs and some time off between them.

    "We are monkeys with money and guns". Tom Waits

    by northsylvania on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 02:11:28 AM PST

  •  You don't need to travel hundreds of miles (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to get kids interested in the outdoors.

    While I would have loved seeing the Grand Tetons or Yellowstone when I was a kid, we lived on the south side of Chicago.. lotsa concrete.

    But, within an hour's drive of the city there was
    the vastness of the Illinois prairies..  the huge forest preserves of the southwest suburbs including lakes, rivers and hiking paths.

    In the Cub Scouts we spent nights camping in the forest preserves and hour to the northwest of the city.

    In the summers, our family spent 2 weeks vacationing in the pine forests and lakes of northern Wisconsin.

    I hope inner city kids are still being treated to the outdoors in small doses like this, where they can learn to appreciate being away from urban life.

    Our National Parks have become amusement parks with too many people and all the commercialization that comes with that.  These days, I would much rather find a state park, or no official park at all to commune with nature.

  •  Check out the websites for the various agencies. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The main agencies managing federal lands are the Forest Service (FS), National Parks Service (NPS), US  Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These agencies all have different mandates.  Together they control around 640 million acres of surface and somewhere around 700 million acres of subsurface lands in the USA. They all encourage public participation in their planning efforts and encourage people to learn about what they do.  They all have webpages, some are on facebook and twitter,  check them out!

  •  What part of "ELITE" is unclear (0+ / 0-)

    This IS their world ... and with good luck and skillful political organization, they may be persuaded to allow the rest of us to find a place in it -- if we can.

    Let's remember that Sally Jewell began her career as a Mobile oilfield engineer ... moved to banking ... and that REI occupied a place in her life not unlike that of the Knickerbocker Boat Club in Commodore Vanderbilt's -- that is "a hobby with benefits."

    Still ... it's a question of "what kind" of Elite do you want in control.  There's the Theodore Roosevelt/Henry Ford school of conservationist who wants to preserve Wilderness for future generations of those affluent enough, or intrepid enough to properly appreciate it ...

    Or there the Rockefeller/Carnegie model that would rather extract their  profits as quickly and completely as possible.

    The idea that President Obama concerns himself with TODAY's working and clerking classes is more than a little naive.  Like Romney, he is "hired help" for people who own the real wealth and exercise the real power.

    Fortunately, this President has a more diversified portfolio of sponsors than the last one did.  Where #42 based his support primarily in the Extraction Industries ... President Obama has solid ties to Banking, Finance,  Transportation and Defense ...  and oh yeah ..;. a veritable army of chavvy urchins who think he cares about them.

    And so he does ...  on "social issues".  Marriage Equality, for example is wildly popular with younger voters and the Democratic Base, in particular.  It costs the General Fund almost nothing and keeps the Religious Political Right in an entertaining and counterproductive dither.  Likewise Women's Reproductive Health issues.

    In return we must accept that in economy in which 2% inflation is the goal of monetary policy ... Banks can borrow from the Fed, (and their depositor/customers) at almost no interest ... and charge anywhere from 5 to 30% interest on their loans.

  •  Ownership, enjoyment, stewardship (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizaveta, willyr, lgmcp, cbfromco, Short Bus

    Once upon a time I used to be a public lands elitist, and then I started working in the field of public lands recreation.

    The fact of the matter is that as citizens, we are all equal owners and really do have radically varying opinions as to what kind of access and recreation should be available where. The challenge of management—like the Interior folks— is to identify where the top priority is watershed restoration vs. traditional uses vs. wilderness vs. motorized use vs. wildlife habitat vs. heavy visitation vs. hunting vs. Burning Man vs. motorized boating vs. fishery management, etc. I firmly believe there is room for all of us to do our thing, because when we enjoy our outdoor spaces, we appreciate that it's ours, take care of it locally and insist that federal managers take better care of it across the nation.

    What I'm sick of is the pillage of our public land patrimony by oil and gas companies, agribusinesses and mineral companies. I would like to see an end to grazing on most public lands, and to mining on all public lands except currently operating mines. I accept that some high-use and developed areas are going to have use fees, but I want extractive industries (timber, mining, oil & gas, grazing) to pay their fair share. I don't want to pay $10/ night to camp, where a cow that cost Simplot or ConAgra $1.64 a month pooped all over my campsite. I certainly don't degrade watersheds, trample fragile soils and overgraze native grasses, so if I pay $10/ night, ConAgra should pay significantly more.

    I have hope that Sally Jewell has experienced the frustration of trying to camp while a seismic thumper is pounding the nearby mesa, or of having to clear the cow flops so you can put a tent down. I hope she decries the Disneyfication & creeping privatization of the parks. Salazar added protections to existing areas; I have hope that Jewell will use the LWCF and other programs to actually expand our land base. I have hope that she'll expand those wonderful Youth Conservation Corps programs and get people out of the cities, onto the land, working in good jobs as stewards of the lands.

  •  Parks are a small part of public lands (0+ / 0-)

    The vast majority of federal land is neither open to the public nor used for recreation.  Even in national forests, only a small section of the land is generally open to the public.

  •  Not elitist in the slightest (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    REI brought affordable outdoor gear to the masses, not to small coterie of elite mountain climbers.

    Hiking, birdwatching, climbing and mountain biking can be extremely cheap sports to participate in.  Out here in west central Montana, you are far more likely to see people with cheap day packs wearing bluejeans and tennis shoes than entirely outfitted in gear from Patagonia.

    And if the gear is from Patagonia, it was probably on sale at Patagonia's seconds store in Dillon, Montana.

    "I come close to despair because so many of the pieces of the country are broken, and when you see that, you have two choices: You can give up, or you can do something about it." Elizabeth Warren

    by Ed in Montana on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 10:39:25 AM PST

    •  Elitist was Egan (0+ / 0-)

      saying that urbanites are the unheard majority. We all are part of the unheard majority on land use if we're not part of the oil and mining corps. I'm rural, I love the outdoors, I recreate in an inexpensive and sustainable way.

      Funny that so many people here focused on REI and not the notion of urbanites being the only unheard group of nature lovers.

      Realize that my diary didn't cut to the chase, but it was train of thought with an invite to discuss some ideas. REI was just one idea among a few.

      I'm really more interested in all of us having a voice in the management of public lands than I am in defending REI. REI is doing fine.

      And Sally Jewell is a good choice for Sec. of the Interior.

  •  Dept of Interior and skiing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why does this diary conflate downhill skiing with the Department of Interior? There are 481 ski areas in the U.S. Just 3 of them are in National Parks, which are public lands administered by DOI. All three of them are small family-oriented operations that add value to, rather than detract from, their parks. They are not mega-resorts like Vail or Aspen. Nor do they have condos, night clubs, 5-star restaurants, or Gucci Shoe stores on site. Hurricane Ridge, a rope tow operation in Olympic National Park, is run by a local ski club. Within Cuyohoga Valley National Park in the Cleveland Metro Area, tiny Boston Mills/Brandywine predated the establishment of of the national park. Badger Pass in Yosemite is a small day-use facility that has been part of park operations since the 1930s.

    Sure, a lot of ski areas in the U.S. are on public land, but the entity that administers their permits is the Forest Service, which is part of the Department of Agriculture. What does the proposed appointment of Sally Jewell as Interior Secretary have to do with the Department of Agriculture?

    And is it really appropriate to paint the U.S. ski industry with the evil-doing/elitist-pandering brush? There are plenty of working-class jobs associated with the industry's $10B share of the economy. It is an industry that, instead of being in denial about climate change, is trying to work towards solutions. Consider the National Ski Areas Association's Sustainable Slopes environmental charter and Climate Challenge greenhouse gas reductions initiatives. Look at Powdr Corp's Save Our Snow partnership with Park City Green. Check out Protect Our Winters. Industry initiatives like this are important, particularly since they are working in the save direction as REI's own strategy for climate change action and greenhouse gas reduction.

    Energy efficiency 1st in the loading order

    by Left Foot Forward on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 11:00:11 AM PST

    •  Sustaining Ski slopes with Sewage for snow? (0+ / 0-)

      This is happening in north Arizona, on USFS lands leased to a commercial ski operator. Granted the USFS is under USDA, not NPS, but this sacred Indian land is public land. Hauling sewage from Flagstaff to make snow is a desecration on many levels.

      Sewage treatment only kills pathogens, and doesn't remove chemicals, so look for permanent harm to this ecosystem, and downstream.

      Discolored Slopes Mar Debut...NYTimes, Jan 11th

      Elitism at it's worst!

      Arizona Snowbowl snow made from sewage turns out yellow.

  •  I read it as playgrounds versus profit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If anything, it sounds like what she's trying to say is that if not for these "urbanites" and their toys, those public lands would long ago have been sold off, clear cut, strip mined, drilled, fracked, turned into farms, feedlots, tract housing, etc.

    She's trying to point to people who in her mind look at public lands and see something other than a profitable resource going to waste.

    I don't get the sense that elitism was implied: that public lands are only for people who can afford shiny toys.

    Something's wrong when the bad guys are the utopian ones.

    by Visceral on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 01:08:11 PM PST

  •  I think that for non-elite urbanites (0+ / 0-)

    it is mostly lack of tradition that keeps them out of the wild lands.  Low income need not be a barrier to outdoor enjoyment.  I've found some pretty decent hiking clothing & boots in thrift shops, and most urban areas have active Sierra Club groups with members that are willing to rideshare to outing destinations.

    I have noticed that our National Parks seem to be full of mostly Euro-Americans and Euro indegene tourists.

    My immigrant parents made sure we spent a lot of time outdoors hiking and exploring.  They had a tradition of weekend country outings and vacations spent in the Black Forest and the Alps.

    That said, I think the bill for my last backpacking trip came in around $700, as I splurged on a new pack prior to leaving.

  •  as a reluctantly urban (0+ / 0-)

    "user' of public lands (moved to the big smoke for job, of course), I am both an urbanite who rafts, skis, etc; AND a conservationist (spent my 20s as a field biologist, and my early 30s working for environmental NGOs; enough credentials?); AND someone who can't get to America's wildlands as much as I'd like --

    I don't think there are contradictions between being an urban-based recreational user of public lands and a conservationist.  

    And yes, I vote, and yes, I certainly participate in politics, both during elections and in the form of contact with my reps to make sure they hear from at least one constituent who cares about the environment. Even when I lived in a totally red state -- at least they couldn't say that ALL their constituents agreed with them.

  •  It's an excellent caution (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizaveta, ban nock

    It is becoming more common to charge for permits to use land, that is "public land".

    Didn't my taxes already pay for that? Much of what we use is sustained by various trail maintenance groups--free volunteers.

    But lets charge the people who have the least expendable amount of income, to access lands they already pay taxes to support.

    Charge me to camp over night, I get that, but to hike a trail in an afternoon? How many times do I have to pay for this directly and indirectly, I wonder?

    •  The tax dollars allocated to caring for and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      providing access to public lands don't even come close to covering the costs.  Thank "conservative" politicians who love their user fees for that.  

      Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

      by Mark Mywurtz on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 07:43:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A lot of the costs for camping need not be, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The cost of a commode that gets pumped out like a porta potty once every couple weeks and a little trash collection is all. Funding for National Forests have been cut so deep that they don't even have Rangers to stop illegal activities like driving or biking in roadless areas let alone trash removal.

      One has to drive a few hours to reach fee free areas, yet I live along the front range of the Rocky Mountains.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 05:14:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Addressing this diary (4+ / 0-)

    I'm a rural outdoor nut.  I like birding, fishing, hunting, and occasionally make a BWCA canoe trip.  

    Don't worry about the cost of all that pretty outdoor gear!  People have enjoyed the outdoors for generations without that shit.  The companies that market and sell that crap and the people who buy it want you to think you need it.  I realize there are some really specialized activities like mountain climbing where that stuff might matter, but if you just want to do a canoe or backpacking trip, camp, etc, you don't need it.  I have a fair amount of stuff, but much of my gear is junk.  It's older, heavy, whatever.  I don't even own a canoe--believe it or not, there are canoe owners among us who will lend them out if you ask.  I wear hoodies, $5 bargain fleeces, and layer lots of cheap stuff when I'm out.  Got all my wool at garage sales.  No fancy backpacks.  I use a $17 tent most of the time.  I don't even know where I got my sleeping bag, but it's frayed, doesn't zip well, and it's heavy.  I have cheap fishing rods, cheap shotguns, and cheap binoculars.  Would I like to upgrade some stuff?  Sure.  Do I have a few nice pieces that I like?  Sure.  Do I need to upgrade?  Absolutely not.

    My point is, you can have lots of fun outdoors with cheap, secondhand, yard sale, refurbished stuff.  You might have to make some adjustments.  You might not be LLBean/Subaru/Patagonia or Cabelas stylish out there.  You might have to make Folgers cowboy coffee rather than grinding exotic beans for your French press out there.  You might have to accumulate a piece or two of gear each year--that's how I managed ice a flip one year, an auger another, a flasher another, etc.  

    If you want a good start, read some Ed Abbey (preferably alone by a fire with a stogie and stiff drink....) and you'll feel sorry for those who venture into the wild with thousands of dollars worth of shiny, name-brand goodies, rather than feeling sorry for those who don't have it.  

    Personal preference: fishing and birdwatching can be pretty cheap pastimes.  You could make a fall trip out of those activities with a minimal investment of gear, then either car camp, or it might even be cheaper to stay at little mom and pop motels nearby.  That's as inexpensive and relaxing as a vacation can get--leave the spendy stuff to the people who like to display their incomes.  

    Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

    by Mark Mywurtz on Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 08:09:56 PM PST

  •  I'm a Scout... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewley notid

    ...and we rely heavily on public parks for a lot of our camping and hiking opportunities.

    Plus, we have the benefit of being able to teach boys environmental stewardship, and even the benefit of cleaning up, so we don't have to have workers clean up those "abused bathrooms" when we're done.

    I live in a city, but fortunately our city has preserved a lot of open space within city limits, and I can drive to state and national parks in under an hour.

    I dunno....REI is somewhat elitist, but I'd rather have the public lands "overrun" by urban recreationalists than oil and gas companies any day.

  •  As a farm hand in Oregon, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a member of a rural community, a former urbanite, an outdoor recreationist, and someone very worried about the way we live in and on this world, I have more thoughts bouncing around in my head on this subject than it would probably be wise to try to dredge up here. What I'll do instead is make a reading recommendation for anyone who might want to follow the thoughts evoked in this diary further: the third chapter, entitled "The Ecological Crisis as a Crisis of Agriculture," from Wendell Berry's brilliant book, The Unsettling of America.

    A quote: "But we cannot hope--for reasons practical and humane, we cannot even wish--to preserve more than a small portion of the land in wilderness. Most of it we will have to use. The conservation mentality swings from self-righteous outrage to self-deprecation because it has neglected this issue. Its self-contradictions can only be reconciled--and the conservation impulse made to function as ubiquitously and variously as it needs to--by understanding, imagining, and living out the possibility of 'kindly use.' Only that can dissolve the boundaries that divide people from the land and its care, which together are the source of human life."

    Please don't read too much into that quote without being familiar with the rest of the chapter, though. Berry makes an argument for the necessity of kindly use, but he also notes the necessity for wilderness and argues vehemently against an exploitation mindset.

    Anyway, this diary made me think of that chapter. I recommend it highly.

    Of The Hands - Thoughts on voluntary poverty, homesteading, farming, reconnecting to the land, doing good work, and muddling through the new no-growth economy.

    by aimlessmind on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 08:26:43 PM PST

  •  Don't forget the (0+ / 0-)

    original purpose for which the government annexed all of that "public" land--to make money for the government. The Department of the Interior was established to manage the resources of public lands for the benefit of the Treasury, not the benefit of the people. Public lands have become recreational lands over the middle and late decades of the 20th century, something Interior would rather not have happened. Leasing coal-uranium-oil-gas-timber-grasslands to the proper parties is really what the goverment would like to do, not maintain the national forests for recreationalists of whatever stripe. Recreation costs the government money, whereas leasing makes money. It has been a slow, laborious process to convince the government to change its attitude towards public lands. Sometimes small voices in the wilderness manage to be heard above the clanking din of drilling rigs, timber harvesters and earth movers and some small victory ensues; but never forget that when government bodies cast about for sources of funding the public lands are the first to feel the squeeze. At this point Sally Jewell looks better that Salazar the wolf-killer. We'll see how she handles the corporate interests.

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