The WildeBeat

The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.



The WildeBeat
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The outdoor recreation and adventure radio show and podcast about backcountry news and activities, like camping, backpacking, skiing, and snowshoeing. MORE...



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Fri, Nov 23, 2007

Comment on Desert Roadless Traveled

Posted at 14:39 /blog/letters [link [Bookmark Link]]

This week's program, Desert Roadless Traveled, prompted a thoughtful comment from a listener, and a response from Kurt, our guest reporter who contributed the story.

Oliver Hager, a listener in Germany wrote:

First thanks for your great podcasts that I am enjoying for nearly two years. I am living in Germany that practically does not offer any wilderness areas. I am a huge fan of the North American outdoors that I visit every year.

Regarding your latest podcast: in my opinion it is very important to have those dirt roads into those nature areas. They allow people with normal physical condition to experience real wilderness that would be otherwise inaccessible because of the long distance, lack of water, etc. This autumn I had a 2 weeks vacation in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and used those roads to access the back country for hiking and camping. It gave me one of the finest wilderness experiences I have ever had. What a magic place with its canyons and washes. For me the neighboring national parks are too crowded and over regulated. Except the Cottonwood road the visitation was very low. Most of the time I was alone. The occasional damages I saw were mostly cattle trails and trash (probably from locals). I saw a few ATV tracks (usually through river beds). I felt responsible and used the existing trails for vehicle and foot travel, had no fire and carried all the waste out. And I think most visitors are doing so, too.

In my opinion the rangers should show more presence in the open field instead of sitting in the visitor centers. Especially on weekends it looks like nobody is controlling this area. The only ranger I saw was from a nearby state park (Kodachrome Basin).

It would be a real loss for the outdoor lovers if that area would get some tedious permit system or worse become a wilderness area that would inaccessible for most people.

Kurt Repanshek wrote this response:

There already exist thousands of miles of dirt roads open to OHV and ATV use in Utah. Current proposals aimed at reining-in OHV use are not designed to close all of these routes, but rather intended to provide some balance and protect lands with wilderness-quality environments until Congress can decide whether they should be formally designated as wilderness.

Much of the problem with unrestricted OHV use is that some users head off designated routes and create new, illegal trails that can strike at the heart of the landscape's wilderness qualities. Sadly, even in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, where there are ample OHV opportunities, some users insist on blazing their own routes in areas off-limits to OHVs.

Access isn't the issue in these discussions. Rather, it's excessive OHV use.


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