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Old 01-06-2015, 12:26 PM   #41
DSettahr
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And I think the suggestion that the corridors in the Catskills show little abuse has little to support the argument. The evidence presented was anecdotal with no knowledge of how many bikes actually have used the trails. If anything it supports the counter-argument that a bike trail would not cause mass destruction of the wilderness, be it from little use, or simply low impact riding.
I wasn't attempting to make (or suggest) any point with my question. I was genuinely curious as to how much bicycle use the bicycle corridors in the Catskills are getting. The purpose of my question was to solicit more information so as to make a better, more informed decision for myself.
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Old 01-06-2015, 01:05 PM   #42
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Does anyone actually use the corridors in the Catskills? I was somewhat in favor of them on the grounds that they would provide community connector routes via old roads suitable to mountain bike use that did not traverse any particularly remote locations. But the few times I've hiked them since the designation, I've not seen any evidence that they were being used by bicyclists.
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I wasn't attempting to make (or suggest) any point with my question. I was genuinely curious as to how much bicycle use the bicycle corridors in the Catskills are getting. The purpose of my question was to solicit more information so as to make a better, more informed decision for myself.
I understand that you were inquiring, but you also made a statement that you've seen no evidence of bikes on those trails. I'm not going to read into what you said, but simply point out that it does not mean that those trails are not used by bicycles.

My point was that regardless of whether or not they are being used, they aren't causing a problem... as suggested by your observations.
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Old 01-06-2015, 02:10 PM   #43
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I understand that you were inquiring, but you also made a statement that you've seen no evidence of bikes on those trails. I'm not going to read into what you said, but simply point out that it does not mean that those trails are not used by bicycles.
I think it really depends on the amount of use the trails are getting. The idea that even a moderate level of bicycle use wouldn't leave some tell-tale signs of impact clearly indicating the source is, I think, unrealistic. We've all seen tire tracks and know what they look like. It's the same with hikers or any other type of recreational use.

The example I'm thinking of specifically is the Dutcher Notch Trail. When I hiked it a few years ago (after the bicycle corridor designation), it was completely devoid of any evidence of bicycle use- even in the wet and muddy stretches of trail where tire ruts would be obvious (and would last for some time). I distinctly remember finding it to be an interesting observation, as I was curious to see what effect the designation of the corridors may have had.

I'm not saying that I'm definitely opposed to the idea of mountain biking trails in wilderness areas. All I'm saying is that I think that there are some valid concerns that would need to be addressed before it could happen. And I think that the question of whether a bike is in itself an unjustifiable affront to the idea of "wildness" in what is an area that is supposed to be subject to the maximum possible protections is worth asking.

No type of recreational use is justifiable everywhere. Certainly, not all of it may be constrained by regulation, but ethics dictate even that there are places where we shouldn't tread even on foot (such as much of the alpine zone in the High Peaks).

(As an interesting aside, Russia has taken the wilderness concept a step further with the establishment of the Zapovedniks, biological and wildlife preserves that exist primarily for ecological protection and not for recreational use. Many of the Zapovedniks are accessible only for scientific and educational use, and are not open to the public for recreation.)
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Old 01-06-2015, 03:12 PM   #44
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[QUOTE=DSettahr;226064Many of the Zapovedniks are accessible only for scientific and educational use, and are not open to the public for recreation.)[/QUOTE]

I guess the Zapovedniks don't have any waterways that are "navigable in fact."

In all seriousness, I like the Zapovednik idea. I think it's already in use in the US via the "Research Natural Area" program. And I think there are places for that in the Adirondacks.

But for most places, common sense assessment of recreational impact (both physical, like erosion, and aesthetic, like loud noises and bright colors) is possible. But an awful lot of user groups strain credulity with their positions (such as the "my wheels are OK, your wheels are not OK" argument for canoe carts vs. bikes).

And I agree with montcalm; I think many folks are somehow knee jerk opposed to bikes, and automatically (perhaps unconsciously) classify them with motorized vehicles.
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Old 01-06-2015, 04:43 PM   #45
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I'm not doubting that the observation was that there was no evidence of bicycles but just because a trail is designated as bike trail (or ski, snowmobile, etc) doesn't mean it will be used as such. It's also possible that there were riders there and their tracks were trammeled by boots later on or that they rode in dry conditions. Some riders even carry their bikes over big mud pits.

Now the thing on my mind is why a trail was designated for bikes that had wet and muddy stretches of trail? This isn't appropriate whether the trail goes through wilderness or wild forest. Impacts on bike trails could be greatly reduced if the trails were consciously designed and located. I alluded to this before but it's much more of an issue in my mind than whether or not it is in a wilderness area or wild forest.

Also, perhaps as is with roads, such trails should be closed during mud season.

Obviously all this takes some sort of education, or enforcement, but seen as how the wilderness areas aren't overrun with illegal mountain bikers, I don't see it as a big risk. I think they will listen.

If anything hikers are more at fault for not respecting mud season. I hate to point the finger and use the argument that hikers ruin the wilderness, but they are certainly the only ones the finger can be pointed at right now. Even so I think amount of damage they do is very minimal in relation to the amount of land conserved.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:05 PM   #46
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On topic comment!

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I would love to see a connector / corridor from speculator area into MrP. Another out from west end of MrP into woodhull lake area. There are likely more places where long connectors would make sense to connect wild Forest that are landlocked so to speak. I'd trade a couple of those connectors and improving some of the summer snomo trails for all the loops IMbA wants to build.
I agree 100%.

Let all of us out-of-staters tell the DEC where to build the new trails (I live in PA) and let the native NYers debate wilderness and bike access!

What happened to ADK123? She can take a copy of this thread to the public comment meeting and really stir it up!
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Old 01-08-2015, 03:01 PM   #47
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On Topic is Fun

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I agree 100%.

Let all of us out-of-staters tell the DEC where to build the new trails (I live in PA) and let the native NYers debate wilderness and bike access!

What happened to ADK123? She can take a copy of this thread to the public comment meeting and really stir it up!
A great many thoughtful and relevant comments to this proposal. Rather than try to summarize everyone's thoughts, I forwarded the link to this thread to the fine folks at Adirondackpark@dec.ny.gov.

I actually received an email back. Good on them. They said the link to their public involvement and news page can be found here: http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/51859.html

Their press releases will let us know about "any potential public meetings and when public documents are going to be released." (quote from the email.)

Wilderness areas vs. mountain bikes. Has been going on since the 1980's when commercially produced mountain bikes first gained popularity. Not only an issue here in NYS, but country-wide.

For those of you with facebook, there is a page dedicated to this topic. The page is called Wilderness B = Wilderness with Bikes. https://www.facebook.com/WildernessB

For those of you who eschew social media, an article referencing Wilderness B can be found here: http://drunkcyclist.com/2010/10/27/w...ss-with-bikes/

The above links are not meant to re-open the debate, but to merely direct those interested to a site where their opinions and thoughts can be shared.
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Old 01-08-2015, 03:26 PM   #48
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For those of you who eschew social media, an article referencing Wilderness B can be found here: http://drunkcyclist.com/2010/10/27/w...ss-with-bikes/
Thank you for posting this. The above link in particular has some relevant and interesting information.

I tried to find information about studies concerning bicycle impacts in the backcountry and was able to find a few published studies myself that also indicate that bicycle impacts are generally on par with hiker impacts, while both are significantly less than equestrian impacts. Much of the research is relatively recent, however, and most of the studies I found stated that there is more work to be done before the impacts of bicycling are well understood.

One study did state that illegal obstacle building, which can result in significantly increased impacts, is an issue that is unique to mountain biking and can be a major issue to deal with in areas where mountain bike trails are implemented. I think that this would be unlikely to occur on more remote trails, however.

I tried to find a study comparing impacts from cart usage with impacts from bicycles, but was unsuccessful. I'm really not convinced that the 2 are equivalent in terms of impact. The gears on a bicycle provide a of torque to the wheels. Bicycle wheels do sometimes move faster than the ground (peeling out) or slower (skidding), whereas the impetus for movement on a cart wheel is the ground itself, so the cart wheel is unlikely to ever not match speeds with the ground. In any case, if bicycle impacts really are equivalent to hiking impacts, it is likely a moot point.
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:37 PM   #49
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Bicycle wheels do sometimes move faster than the ground (peeling out) or slower (skidding), whereas the impetus for movement on a cart wheel is the ground itself, so the cart wheel is unlikely to ever not match speeds with the ground.
A rolling wheel with no slippage has exactly zero velocity at the ground to wheel interface. In the other cases there is a velocity at the interface. Just thought if you want to use that argument you'd want to get your physics correct but I knew what you meant.
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:53 PM   #50
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Measures of velocity depend on where you define your inertial reference frame. If we're determined to get our physics correct, then both you and I made the mistake of not doing so. We're both correct, but from the points of view of different inertial reference frames. Your inertial reference frame is on the ground, mine is on the bike.

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Old 01-08-2015, 08:30 PM   #51
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Measures of velocity depend on where you define your inertial reference frame. If we're determined to get our physics correct, then both you and I made the mistake of not doing so. We're both correct, but from the points of view of different inertial reference frames. Your inertial reference frame is on the ground, mine is on the bike.
True - technically I should have said zero relative velocity at the ground, which is the case in either reference frame.

Either way it's the non-zero relative velocity of a tire, or boot, that causes the most issue.
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:39 PM   #52
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Returning to the topic of discussion at hand, a friend of mine who reads these boards but doesn't post, brought up two interesting points that I think are worth considering. I'm sort of paraphrasing here, taking their thoughts and running with them with some additional thoughts of my own.

The first is that, while canoes do represent a form of mechanical advantage, canoes and hikers rarely cross paths, so there is much less potential for group conflict. I know that the possibility of separate bike trails in wilderness has been raised already in this thread as a means of minimizing group conflict, but then you've got a further proliferation of trails, and I think it is worth asking whether that is appropriate in the wilderness context either.

The other point, and I think that this is a really good one, pertains to the more philosophic underpinnings of wilderness. One of the arguments in defense of wilderness is that it allows one to experience the United States as it historically existed pre-settlement. Horses were very much a part of the historic context of early exploration of the US; bicycles were not. The bicycle itself, and especially the mountain bike, is much more a product of an industrialized society than is horseback riding and canoeing. For some, the presence of a bicycle is a reminder of exactly what they are attempting to leave behind when they visit the wilderness. I think that this explains at least in part how many can feel more accepting of equestrian use of wilderness areas but not bicycle use, even if the equestrian use causes more impact. (Certainly, a lot of backpacking gear is a product of an industrialized society, but things like packs and stoves and tents all existed in some form during much of the exploration of the US.)

I'm not convinced that either argument is valid in defense of a complete ban on mountain bikes from wilderness... but again, things worth considering in deciding how and where exactly to draw the line.
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:42 PM   #53
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I'm curious- the desire for a link between the Speculator Area and the Moose River Plains has been cited several times in this thread as a "needed" connector that is hindered by the presence of a Wilderness Area. What other needed community links would those in the Mountain Bike community like to see that are presently made difficult or impossible due to the presence of Wilderness? I think having a context for just how much access the mountain bike community is realistically seeking could provide for a much better perspective on the issue.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:07 PM   #54
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The 25th Bicycle Corp was 'mountain' biking long before suspension forks, GPS, and even many of our National Parks. Even long before the Wilderness Act, way before paved roads and even well marked trails back in 1896.



The rode 500 miles from Missoula to Yellowstone, and then did a longer 1900 mile trip to St. Louis.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:09 PM   #55
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I'm curious- the desire for a link between the Speculator Area and the Moose River Plains has been cited several times in this thread as a "needed" connector that is hindered by the presence of a Wilderness Area. What other needed community links would those in the Mountain Bike community like to see that are presently made difficult or impossible due to the presence of Wilderness? I think having a context for just how much access the mountain bike community is realistically seeking could provide for a much better perspective on the issue.


I'll dig out my paper maps when I get s chance. I have some stuff noted and scribbled on them with ideas for places I might carry through to connect interesting places.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:28 PM   #56
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Well the 25th bicycle corp certainly does settle it.

Paddlers may stay out of the way of hikers, but certainly skiers do not. But I'm guessing most people just disregard winter.

In regards to the technology break and history, I think that is a slippery slope to justify (and plus the bicycle corp which I now know about). I'd say if you want to put that in perspective you need to call out things like GPS, cell phones (unpopular I know, but many make their way into wilderness like it or not), batteries, synthetic fibers and materials to name a few.

Certainly the way people hike and backpack today is slightly different than days past.

And then to go one step further, why would we stop at 'white man' wilderness exploration. Surely a more pure form of enjoying the wilderness is that of the ways of the peoples that lived here before people had to designate things as public land and wilderness. There was no ownership and it was all wilderness...

Then we'd have to ban guns, stoves, lighters, and horses.

So to me, those arguments hold little merit.

I really think the human powered requirement is a good line to draw. Horses may be somehow historically intertwined but they have little to do with how the majority of people enjoy healthy recreation and the outdoors today. Obviously people still own and ride horses, but I'd venture a guess that the bike has long surpassed the horse.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:55 PM   #57
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I'd say if you want to put that in perspective you need to call out things like GPS, cell phones (unpopular I know, but many make their way into wilderness like it or not), batteries, synthetic fibers and materials to name a few.
My friend would actually agree with you on this in all seriousness. She says that the only means of travel that should be permitted in wilderness areas is bushwhacking. She has nothing against things like marked and maintained trails, lean-tos, mountain biking, canoeing, etc. But she says, "If you're going to allow those things, then don't call it wilderness, because it's not wilderness."

It's not so much that she thinks that these things shouldn't be permitted on public land in the Adirondacks. Rather, it's that we shouldn't be calling much of what we have in the Adirondacks "Wilderness" because we're fooling ourselves if we think that much of the Adirondack Park constitutes the best that we could be doing to protect the wildness of remote areas. It is an interesting perspective.

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Old 01-08-2015, 10:07 PM   #58
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The 25th Bicycle Corp was 'mountain' biking long before suspension forks, GPS, and even many of our National Parks. Even long before the Wilderness Act, way before paved roads and even well marked trails back in 1896.

The rode 500 miles from Missoula to Yellowstone, and then did a longer 1900 mile trip to St. Louis.
This is a singular example that occurs quite late in the history of the exploration of the US, though. Yellowstone had already been a park for nearly 25 years in 1896.
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:25 PM   #59
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Well if we never obtain the ideal wilderness, then what is the point?

We are awful theoretical here. Let's take something real life:

For instance, what makes it any better to allow bikes on the Fish Pond Truck Trail in SRCA and ban them from the Big Otter Truck Trail in Haderondah Wilderness?

In my mind that just some bureaucratic nonsense. It's quite possible that:

A) Both trails are perfectly acceptable for bicycle use

or

B) Neither trail is acceptable for bicycle use

The only thing that dictates whether they are is how the area is designated and some seemingly arbitrary rules that say bikes are OK on a Truck Trail in a Canoe Wilderness, but not in a Wilderness.

I can see only one possible argument (there may be more, so please share) and that is hikers don't want to see or be bothered by bikes. In the canoe area, much less hikers will be using that trail to hike, so it's perhaps less of an issue. The actual usage numbers could show a different story as just as many people could, in theory, hike out along the Fish Pond TT as the Big Otter TT.

Seems to me that these type of trails could be very nice for bikes, perhaps with some minor improvements in areas. Because they tend to be a bit wider, they also make good ski trails and allow a bit of space to share traffic between hikers and bikers.

Some may argue that an 8' wide trail has no place in the wilderness. For them: no one says you need to follow it. You can simply bushwhack your way to your destination if you please.
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Old 01-09-2015, 02:42 AM   #60
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I think that completely wild areas free of any sort of human influence including marked trails, etc., are possible to achieve in the Adirondacks. Certainly areas like the Pepperbox Wilderness and parts of the Five Ponds Wilderness exemplify this. For the Pepperbox Wilderness to become completely trail-less, the state would only need to abandon or relocate a total of approximately 2 miles of marked trail. Also, the Pepperbox Wilderness only gets about 450 people registered at trailhead sign in boxes each year!

And on a broader sense geographically, there are wilderness areas out west and in Alaska that dwarf anything we've got in the Adirondacks in terms of size, yet also receive far less use. Without any demand for recreational facilities, it's pretty easy to manage those areas without any sort of development. The fact is that most public land in the US receives a fraction of the recreational use that many areas in the Adirondacks get.

As an aside, I personally don't agree with my friend that all wilderness should be trailless, and I think there is room for wilderness and some level of recreational development to co-exist in the Adirondacks. I wouldn't mind, though, seeing maintenance of some recreational facilities for hiking and backpacking scaled back within at least some Adirondack wilderness areas (but not necessarily eliminated). I don't think that most trails in wilderness areas outside the High Peaks don't need to be marked to the same extent that they are, and I would be in favor of having many of these trails scaled back to Class II trails, akin to the herd paths in the High Peaks- trails that are maintained to minimize impacts but not marked. I also think that bridges should only be constructed where necessary to prevent shoreline degradation, and (in some cases) to maintain hiker safety, but never for convenience. Correspondingly, I think there needs to be a push for development of more recreational facilities such as trails, campsites, lean-tos, etc., in areas that are zoned wild forest, to provide alternative destinations for those who aren't really looking for a true "wilderness" experience.

Back on the topic at hand: Mountain bikes may be appropriate to some extent in wilderness. I won't deny that it is possible. However, to allow them is still going to be a step away from pure wildness. Mountain bikes, like any other recreational activity, have their own unique needs and challenges, challenges which will inherently necessitate some level of additional management and development of recreational facilities. Management in and of itself is discordant with wildness. In Wilderness Management, Dawson and Hendee sum it up pretty well: "The term wilderness management is a paradox (Nash 1982). Wilderness is conceptualized to be an area where the influence of modern people is absent (or at least minimized), but the word management suggests humans controlling nature." (The citation is for Roderick Nash's Wilderness and the American Mind, probably the single best resource on the history of American attitudes towards the idea of wilderness.) The fact is, any time you allow a new and significantly different mode of recreation into an area, the inherent need for additional management of that particular activity is always going to represent a shift away from the primitive end of the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum.

(I often wonder "what's next" in terms of recreational uses, the likes of which we can't even comprehend at present. At the very least, I somewhat expect to see regulations governing drone use in the Adirondacks in the near future.)

And while the current bike regulation may not be ideal, and I agree that we could do better, there is one huge advantage to it that perhaps at least partially explains the incongruities montcalm points out: It is easy for the public to understand. It can be summed up in one single sentence: Bikes are ok in Wild Forest Areas, and are not ok in Wilderness Areas. In comparison with many of the other DEC regulations, which can be long and complex (and may even vary from one area to the next), this is probably one of the easiest regulations to communicate to the public.

It is always going to be necessary to select a somewhat broad scope of focus for regulations that to some extent represents generalizations that may not fully take into account the unique characteristics of each individual trail, campsite, lake, pond, or even each individual management unit... especially when you're trying to come up with a set of regulations for an area as large as the Adirondack Park. The alternative to simplistic regulations is lengthy and overly complex regulations, which, in addition to representing an even further intrusion upon the philosophical concept of wildness, will likely result in both willful and involuntary ignorance of the intent of the regulations to minimize impacts by people who are either unwilling or unable to decipher their complexities. This in turn leads to those very impacts that the regulations were designed to prevent. Even if bicycles are allowed in wilderness, I think it is pretty unlikely that we'd ever see every trail that is suitable for riding open to such use.

(The real bureaucratic nightmare, I think, would be if all trails in the Adirondacks were to have their suitability for mountain bike use determined on a case by case basis. Can you imagine how long it would take the state to first decide on the criteria, and then evaluate each trail individually?)

I think it is also worth remembering that modern-day management techniques for recreation resources largely arose in the response the significant issues that plagued backcountry areas almost ubiquitously in the 1960's. The post-war boom in both population and economy lead to significant increases in backcountry use. There was no sense of LNT or any sort of minimum-impact techniques for backcountry camping and travel. Conditions in many backcountry areas, including both the Adirondack High Peaks and the White Mountains in New Hampshire, were bad, with rampant tree cutting, litter deposition, and erosion along both trails and campsites, far worse that much of what we see or encounter today.

And early attempts to reign those impacts in were met with fierce opposition, opposition which likely at least contributed to the Stoneman Meadow Riot in Yosemite in 1970 (I don't mean to imply that the National Park Service was completely innocent in their approach to the issue, and I am also sure that there were a lot of other factors involved on both sides). Even getting to where we are today, with some of the impacts repaired, and at least a general familiarity amongst the public with LNT, was no easy task. Given that history has repeatedly shown that high levels of impact can occur in relatively short periods of time, and that it can take decades (and in some cases possibly even centuries) for that impact to be repaired, I think that some level of caution in making management decisions is certainly warranted so as to preclude the possibility of making a hasty and poorly-educated decision that could possibly have long term negative ramifications or result in a step backwards towards the conditions of the 60's.

And finally, I am really not a fan of the "if you don't like it, then go someplace else" argument. It comes across as an unwillingness to work with those of opposing viewpoints to find a solution that is acceptable to both sides, even if that might not be the intent. And it devalues the emotional attachment that a person may feel towards a particular area, attachment that they may feel is threatened (justifiably or not) by any proposed changes in how that area is managed. It'd be wise to never underestimate the power of place attachment, as it can strongly influence perceptions and opinions. Place attachment is why the state faced so much opposition to their attempts to close the road to Crane Pond in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness.

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