Reader Interactions


  1. louis curth says

    A Backcountry Education by Cal Seeley is a story of heartening personal growth and disheartening backcountry degradation long in the making.

    Perhaps it was the popularity of Rev. Murray’s nineteenth century best seller; “Adventures in the Wilderness” that started our trail problems. At any rate, by 1920, the Conservation Commission was marking fire tower trails and constructing additional trails, lean-tos and campsites to meet a growing public demand. That demand has continued to grow and outstrip maintenance needs ever since. ADK trail manager Charlotte Staats (any relation to my long ago PSC classmate Lou Staats?) comment about having a hundred years of trail maintenance to fix is sadly all too true.

    I see two important take-aways from this story:

    First is the story by Cal about his positive experience of doing hard work for a good purpose and of his pleasure at being out in nature. What a great contrast to the endless reports of inexperienced recreational users and rising backcountry emergencies. Isn’t this the very kind of experience that we want to instill in many more of our young people?

    Second, based on my experience as a ranger, I am not optimistic that we will ever be able to fix that hundred year backlog without a major course change such as one that was proposed recently by Aaron Mair in a Press Republican guest editorial entitled “Don’t Let Moriah Shock Campus Rot”.

    Aaron make a compelling case for re-creating a new version of the highly successful 1930s depression era Civilian Conservation Corps, which could be a win-win with so many beneficiaries:

    *… It could provide the means to educate a new generation of young people about safety in the outdoors, and also be a pathway for them to enter rewarding careers in environmental conservation just as the old CCC did for an earlier generation.
    *… It could apply the strength and energy of many young hands to work on problems we face such as climate change and restoring the long neglected backlog of trail work as discussed in this article.
    *… Equally important, such a program could breath new life into long neglected facilities such as Moriah Shock with tremendous benefit for many struggling Adirondack communities.

    Ms. Staats sums it up best: “It’s bigger than just one organization or one agency. Nobody can do it by themselves.”

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