Erosion: It's a Beautiful Thing
By Del Albright, BlueRibbon Ambassador
When I wrote this, I had just returned from a marvelous visit to southern Utah and several National Parks. I couldn't believe how beautiful erosion could be. Yes, erosion. This area of the United States has been eroded over time to some of the most spectacular scenery I've ever experienced. But think about how we perceive that word today: erosion.
It seems we've tweaked words in different directions these days than they were originally meant. Erosion supposedly needs mitigation; yet some of our most treasured national parks were formed by erosion. Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon NP, Zion, Cedar Breaks, etc. were all caused by wind and water erosion.
Yet ask some of our self-proclaimed "environmentalist" friends, and you'll hear the bad things about erosion. Interesting. What about the beauty of nature's own creations?
There's another tweaked word: environmentalist. You won't hear me call the radical protectionists environmentalists. No sir! The real environmentalists are folks like those in the BlueRibbon Coalition and other organized recreation groups who fight to preserve our resources for the public instead of from the public.
Radical protectionists or anti-access folks are names that better fit the folks who run around spouting book-learned ecology and advocating excluding us from our public lands. It's unfortunate that the anti-access folks get the attention they do; but that brings me to another word that's been misused: access.
Access means passage and freedom of entry. It does not mean entry for only those who recreate by non-motor means. It should mean access for all. It should mean sharing our public lands and sharing our trails -- for all users. In my opinion, it should not mean a mandatory ride on a shuttle bus to see our public lands for which we've already paid for and hired folks to manage.
As a side note, the reality is, we will have to ride shuttles someday. It's too bad that some of our public land managers didn't plan far enough ahead to see this coming. Plans could have been made and public input included, so that something besides a cattle car would be available. Perhaps a reservation system in combination with the inevitable shuttle ride? But nonetheless, you might as well think of shuttle rides as part of our right to access and the definition of the word.
I am certain of one thing. When you stand on a wind-swept sandstone formation that breaks off below you hundreds of feet down, you can't help but behold the beauty of a word like erosion. But words like erosion, environmentalist, and access have all taken on multiple meanings these days. My suggestion to you is to ensure the words you're speaking are the words your listener is hearing. One never knows.
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