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[pct-l] Is LNT all we need?

Hello Ron -

Nice post!  I do enjoy a posting that takes the trouble to explain where
the ideas are coming from <g>.

I find that I agree with many of your observations and with many of the
conclusions that you are drawing from them.

You said:

>Over the years since it's inception the AT has undergone numerous
>changes.  Often to the dismay of the previous generation. As a result
>we tend to rail against the new comers as uncouth vagabonds that
>shouldn't be caught within ten miles of our sacred trail.
>The truth is, change is enviable. This is true for the PCT also. Much
>of the damage on the AT is blamed on the new comers while we tend to
>overlook many other equally important factors...

Yeah...the good old "shut the door after I am in" syndrome <VBG>.  I agree
that it happens in all aspects of life and that it might be happening in
some of the philosophical debates occuring on all of the "Great Trail"
lists from time to time.

I am not aware of it playing any role in the development and implementation
of the LNT program.  In fact, from my personal observations and from
discussions with other LNT trainers, I would have to say the opposite is
true: LNT is being accepted MUCH quicker by the new generation of outdoor
folks than it is by us old(er) fogies <g>.

I think that most LNT'ers that I have met would agree that our biggest
training hurdle (by far!) lies in "undoing" attitudes/skills that made
perfectly good sense when we learned them at our outdoor mentor's knee.
That modern research has shown some of these attitudes/skills to be no
longer appropriate for modern backcountry conditions is NOT a matter for
"blame"...rather, IMHO, it IS a matter for education!

But still, young or old, skilled or unskilled, nothing will start to happen
until somehow significant numbers of us get access to the LNT message.

You said:

>Damage is due only in part to the increase in trail traffic. A larger
>and greater damage is cause by actions taken often far away from the

Yes.  Often much of the damage being done to our favorite backcountry areas
is caused by factors that we have zero direct control over (i.e., cows on
the PCT).  We can try to figure out how we can gain some measure of control
(petition the managing agency, political action, monkey-wrenching, shoot a
cow or two, etc.)...but, no matter how successful we are (or aren't) it
still doesn't change one basic fact.  One source of backcountry damage that
we have ABSOLUTE control over lies in the impacts that we personally create
every time we visit the backcountry.  We make 'em...we can STOP making 'em!

You said:

>I don't have a problem with LNT but if we lull ourselves in believing
>that it will somehow solve the ills of the wilderness, we're barking
>up the wrong tree...

No and yes.  No it won't solve all of our backcountry ills, yes it can help
a HUGE amount with those ills that are directly related to the increasing
numbers of folks using the backcountry.  Even if we somehow find and elect
the perfect politician to solve the global "system" problems that plague
our backcountry...we still will be faced with the incremental damage being
done by the ever increasing crowds of backcountry users.  IMHO, LNT has
little place getting involved in the (political) "system" solution...it IS
the best that I have found yet to help create a realistic/practical
"incremental damage" solution.

I said:

>There appears to be NOWHERE near the AT-levels of dependable
>long-term support infrastructure available.

You said:

>Well it's that infrastructure that's in part responsible for changing
>the character of the trail. In a post today Dan "Wingfoot"...

I probably didn't make my point clearly enough.  The support infrastructure
that I was referring to is the one that supports the trail itself
(organizations that do maintenance activity, political action groups,
etc.), not the one that supports the trail users.

We now seem to be almost totally dependent on the (sometimes fickle) feds
to support the PCT.  The PCTA appears to be working hard at getting the
needed long-term support infrastructure together...but there is a LONG way
to go!

You said:

>If we really want to make LNT work, maybe we should expand it to
>provide suggestions on how our individual daily decisions effect the
>environment, both local and global.

Remember, LNT is really a "process" that is designed to help us
develop/maintain a deeply felt "wilderness ethic" that allows us to make
day-to-day decisions that support our backcountry instead of destroying
it...NOT a simple set of "rules".

This very logical (and ultimately very ethical) process can work well for
us anytime we need to create a "decision making system" for ourselves.  Try
exchanging "work ethic" (or "parenting ethic", or some such) for
"wilderness ethic"...it makes for some interesting trail discussions <g>.

Thanks for the interesting posting!

Trace No Leaves,

- Charlie II

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