So we agree that there are uses that would destroy the very thing sought after. That is a start. I propose that there is a continuum from the parkinglot to the wilderness, and I find a road to be a little further down the line than you do.
I grew up on a farm, in a very rural area. Our road was only vaguely "graveled." Now, many of the roads are blacktopped, and what was once a place where every person knew the neighbors is largely gone, replaced by city refugees (who bring their problems and their hooligan kids with them).
I just don't see the same value you do in "seeing the sights," especially if you're just going to gawk from the car and leave. As I said, I object to letting people take their trash deep into the woods for its own sake, not for my own. I made no reference to "class" if you're making that tired old Republicans-are-the-real-Americans populist argument.
I've lived where there is kudzu, fire ants, and zebra mussels, and I know very well that roads are one sure way to hell. They are a route for trash, foreign species, and erosion. It's not worth a Sunday drive, in my estimation.
Taxes have nothing to do with it as far as I am concerned, because an area with no roads is pretty cheap compared to the cost of maintaining any sort of road. It's all land we took from some king or another who first stole it from the natives, so I am not going to accept any argument about unsettled lands being somehow owned.
The fact remains that these fractions of land are the last road-free areas in the whole lower 48. There are people all over the planet. There is no longer any frontier. In 50 years, there'll be 9 to 12 billion people on the planet.
You allow yourself to make illustrations not intended to be taken completely literally, so grant me the same latitude. Thank you.
I have to add one more thing. Mr. M. states that people might want to use the wild lands "in some other way." I am sure we agree that some uses would destroy the lands. For example, a person might want to use the wild lands as a parking lot, but of course paving them over makes them no longer wild. We have a different definition of wild, but I think we all appreciate woods more than pavement. I don't intend to be "high handed"--but I do recoil at uses that would harm the wilderness because I think it has intrinsic value regardless of whether people ever go there. In these remaining areas, I think people should go to the wilds on the wild's own terms. And referring to the map above you can see we're not talking about the entire National Forest; the majority of it is still open for automobiles.
I hope you all forgive my passion in this discussion. As people who care about the forest enough to write about it, I hold you in high regard.
I don't expect to be fit all my life, but I do want there to be places my kids will have to go on foot, so they can apprecate the frontier character of our land. Roads are the first step to a mine or a clearcut, or even a development.
The roadless rule affected only 31% of National Forest lands, and didn't bar four-wheelers, so you could get out there even if you're as restricted in your mobility as you sound.
Do you think that the National Forests should only be for those who have the money to buy cars? If so, that's an exclusion too. Maybe we should bus all 300 million Americans out to the middle of Nowhere, CO.
It's funny but the folks on the right are always griping about political correctness and equal rights and affirmative action, but the argument made for roads into the wilds often sounds very much the same--it's not fair! This is not charitable or gracious, but neither is your assuming I'm an elite or even fit (but thank you).
I'm more libertarian than left, but I must admit this: I want there to be land where the original character of the continent is preserved, a place for nature itself, without regard to its use. I think we "own" these places only in the barest, most superficial way. I want them to be there whether I can go there myself or not, a place where people can still be eaten by bears or buried under avalanches without civilization there to bail them out, a place where people can still test themselves and survive, or not, by muscle and brains: a place where creation continues to unfold without the nasty influence of people--and if you didn't think people are inherently nasty, you wouldn't be trying to go to the woods anyway, you'd live in downtown LA.
The farther one gets from a road, the cleaner the woods become. Close to a road, people think tin cans burn and broken glass is nice to have in camp. This, without any further reason, is a good enough rationale for keeping that 31% of the National Forests road-free.
I got the jist of your comment all right. I think there's plenty charge of elitism to go around--the right, the real Right, are Forbes, Perot, the Bushes, and their other billionaire buddies. The $50K+ Hummer is elitist. And there's plenty of elites on the other side too; I am sure Vail is full of them.
While I agree that some environmental positions are held by those who have it easy, you can't say your comment was only for its connotation and that a person is somehow dense for taking it on at face falue. (How elitist of you.)
There are already thousands upon thousands of miles of roads in the national forests. There's a road to the top of Pike's Peak and several others (from which you can see literally dozens of miles--look as long as you like). If the infirm want to see more, there's IMAX. Looking through a car window is about the same thing.
The infirm can't do lots of things and that is certainly regretable. But we don't do away with the rodeos just cause old cowboys can't bullride any more. Old folks aren't going to be astronauts either. We should stop sending anyone to space.
If you build a bunch of roads through wild lands, they're not wild any more. This is rugged country at stake, but there's a ton of more accessible places already.
You're not even making a completely accurate argument: a paraplegic man climbed Mount Fuji a couple years ago. People can do amazing things if they really want it, but won't rise to the occasion if they don't have to--look around at our nation of obese people.
The poor can't get out there either; are you going to argue for welfare jeeps?
And to the responder below you, these are national forests where no one should have any cabin at all. That might chap your hide, but sorry.
While I agree that we all own the national lands, we don't own them for every and all purpose. There is an issue of heritage, about preserving a glimpse of the wild continent for future generations. Roads are not the only method of access, but they are a method of access that ruins the very thing accessed: wild spaces. The only way to really see the land is to get out of the metal boxes and touch the earth. It doesn't matter if you can't go as far, for a man on foot will see more in a mile than someone in a car will see in a hundred.
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