Article: Crisis in our national parks

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#41
Genuine question. Did the monument designation actually change anything regarding visitation, permits, and recreational use in general? It didn't seem to, as far as I'm aware, so did it really add any protective measures in that regard? I'm aware of the halt on oil and gas leasing, which is certainly a plus.
Don't forget Uranium mining. It's my understanding that much of the monument designation removal is due to companies wishing to mine for Uranium, with a much smaller portion of the area to be drilled for oil and/or gas.
 

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Titans

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#42
I did moonhouse on a weekday in early November and only saw 2 people.

Also, the reason the Monument was needed originally is that "security by obscurity" no longer worked (although, given the rampant looting over the years, one might argue that security by obscurity never worked. So now we have a place that's even more on the forefront of people's minds and there aren't any protections in place for it. Worst of both worlds. :(
@LarryBoy - we were really tracing your footsteps end of October and early November. It was so quiet in Capitol reef and off Burr trail rd. We try to do as much as possible midweek, yesterday we saw 2 people all day in The Needles.
 

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#43
There has been a massive increase in visitation since the monument designation. I don't think it really had that much to do with it being a monument as much as it had to do with the subsequent fight and related publicity. I have no statistics to back that up, but I am 100% confident that it has pretty much blown up compared to pre-BENM.
Oh yeah, I was aware of that effect. I mostly meant did changing it from the Primitive Area to the NM legally change anything to protect the area more from over-visitation? @LarryBoy seemed to suggest that that was the case, and I wasn't aware.
 

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#44
Oh yeah, I was aware of that effect. I mostly meant did changing it from the Primitive Area to the NM legally change anything to protect the area more from over-visitation? @LarryBoy seemed to suggest that that was the case, and I wasn't aware.
Nah nothing really changed. But the monument designation promised to funnel more resources toward protecting it (i.e. more LEO's to catch looters), and that never happened because of the reversal.
 

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#45
Nah nothing really changed. But the monument designation promised to funnel more resources toward protecting it (i.e. more LEO's to catch looters), and that never happened because of the reversal.
Gotcha. Thanks! Would be nice to have that funding now that its cover is fully blown.
 

Kmatjhwy

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#46
Last year in the fall, went all over the National Parks in Southern Utah. It seemed when I went, each of the Parks was being mobbed and then being mobbed some more, all over Southern Utah. It seemed like a madhouse. The best place where there was nobody though was little Navajo Nat'l Mon. The campground was half empty. Also Hovenweep Nat'l Mon was half empty. But the main National Parks were all overflowing with people. I even visited Mesa Verda and they were about to close for the season. Moab was over run with people bigtime. It was the first time for me in years and years in Moab. Could not believe how big it is now and all the people there. Arches NP was insane with all the people. Capitol Reef was overflowing with people. It seems like now in the main places, Southern Utah can be overflowing with people unfortunately. I remember how it used to be in many years gone by when you could go somewhere and have it to yourself. Guess there are those backcountry places where one can go with a little exercise and sweat, then have it to yourself, once one gets away from the main roads. Thought I would post after some of the comments above.
 
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Titans

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#47
@Kmatjhwy ... it depends on the time of the year. Few people like the cold weather, so it seems (and/or maybe other factors play in). And perhaps I should keep quiet about that ;)
Capitol Reef was very very quiet end of October, early November. We saw nobody on Upper Muley Twist, 1 person on Lower Muley a week later.
We saw 1 person on the Frying Pan trail. The busiest was the trail to Navajo Knobs with about 15 on a Sunday morning.
And Cedar Mesa had lots of cars, as I mentioned above.
Yesterday we saw 2 people in The Needles all day on the loop with The Joint Trail/ Chesler Park (I posted pictures on the “Before/After” Album). But that was midweek. We did see a lot of people headed to Druid Arch a few weeks earlier on Sunday Nov 11 (holiday week).
This Monday we saw 4 people in Arches on the Devils garden loop (once we passed the Landscape Arch). Having said that- a year ago the same hike was not (!) fun the Sunday before Thanksgiving....
Last year Nov/Dec we met 2 people every time we hiked into fiery Furnace in Arches. We shall see tomorrow- weather and permit permitting....
Today we saw maybe 5 cars on the Shafer trail/ road in Canyonlands.
But I get it... I have seen it happen to our favorite Scuba destinations, it’s all a matter of time.
 

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#48
Last year in the fall, went all over the National Parks in Southern Utah. It seemed when I went, each of the Parks was being mobbed and then being mobbed some more, all over Southern Utah. It seemed like a madhouse. The best place where there was nobody though was little Navajo Nat'l Mon. The campground was half empty. Also Hovenweep Nat'l Mon was half empty. But the main National Parks were all overflowing with people. I even visited Mesa Verda and they were about to close for the season. Moab was over run with people bigtime. It was the first time for me in years and years in Moab. Could not believe how big it is now and all the people there. Arches NP was insane with all the people. Capitol Reef was overflowing with people. It seems like now in the main places, Southern Utah can be overflowing with people unfortunately. I remember how it used to be in many years gone by when you could go somewhere and have it to yourself. Guess there are those backcountry places where one can go with a little exercise and sweat, then have it to yourself, once one gets away from the main roads. Thought I would post after some of the comments above.
Unfortunately, this is the new reality for the most part of the year right now in Southern Utah and its parks. Zion was especially busy this summer and like a madhouse. But even during the busiest months you can still find solitude and can go on trails with literally no one else. I completely skipped the main canyon and only went to Kolob Terrace. It was busier than years before I moved to Hawai'i but I always found nice spots with no one else.
Same thing for Yellowstone. I knew what I was getting into when I went mid-September but as a soon as I went into the backcountry I had all the trails on my own. I guess none of the typical tourists like to go further than half a mile away from all the tourist spots. Bad for them, but it was good for me.:)
 
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#49
In the past two years, the worst I've seen for visitation are the two times (once in August and once in June) I've visited Rocky Mountain National Park. They were the first times I had been since the early 2000's and it was a zoo! But as I mentioned for Arches, as soon as it got late in the day there was nobody out and you could even get parking at Cub Lake TH or Alberta Falls TH.
 
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#50
Did a quick literature search. There's a surprising lack of quantitative data on the role of social media on park visitation versus availability of online information (e.g. trail guides, outdoor articles, park literature, etc.) in general.

Regarding social media platform usage of visitors I did find someone's master thesis on Crater Lake NP, which polled visitors on platform usage in general, but not on whether that influenced their decision to visit. Facebook was the most popular (note that the park visitors tended to skew older). The data was collected in 2014, so proportions may have changed.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 9.01.48 AM.png
 

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#51
Don't forget Uranium mining. It's my understanding that much of the monument designation removal is due to companies wishing to mine for Uranium, with a much smaller portion of the area to be drilled for oil and/or gas.
Oil leases were grandfathered in at the time of monument designation, but no wells were active. I'm not sure about mining claims; my guess would be they were as well since it's BLM jurisdiction.
 
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#52
In the past two years, the worst I've seen for visitation are the two times (once in August and once in June) I've visited Rocky Mountain National Park. They were the first times I had been since the early 2000's and it was a zoo! But as I mentioned for Arches, as soon as it got late in the day there was nobody out and you could even get parking at Cub Lake TH or Alberta Falls TH.
It's definitely not like it was in 2000. Getting a parking spot at Glacier Gorge (Alberta Falls TH) requires being there by 7 AM for the most part. They shut off access to Bear Lake Road now on busy days, which included weekdays at times this fall. It used to be going to the West side of the park was less crowded, but it's even turning to a zoo over there now.

A month ago I tried to get to Bear Lake for sunset and there was a parking lot on the road about 1/2 mile out from the TH, waiting to get in. This is what is now considered winter season up there.

And that's why I'm a sunrise guy. ;)
 

Kmatjhwy

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#53
Personally have heard that ever since the last recession, people have been flocking to the Parks. Couple of years ago was at a little State Park up on the Olympic Peninsula, it would be mobbed with people every weekend. As for Southern Utah like Zion, how often is Zion now flooded with people out of California. Now also I seen it every summer here in Jackson Hole. But in every Park and Wilderness Area, there are places that people go and places that people never go. I know of places up in Grand Teton NP, near the highway, that one will never never hardly see any people in those places. And as for the backcountry, since so many now days can't live without their techno devices, guess easy to get away from the crowds. I know of many places nearby where I can escape everyone. Nearby Jackson is beautiful Cache Creek where lots of people walk their dogs, mountain bike in the summer, and ski in the winter. I have been all over Cache Creek. There are many places here right near town that one can go and enjoy by your lonesome away from the crowds. Have observed how many don't ever even think of getting off of the trails and such. Personally thinking of next summer of just getting back into those wilds and disappearing for a good good long time enjoying everything.
 
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#56
The national parks here in Alberta have also seen massive increases in visitation in recent years. Some of this can be attributed to the free park passes that were part of Canada's 150th, which was touted as a way to attract people who might not normally visit an NP. We'll see if that is sustained next year (passes were valid well into 2018). Want to hike in the Lake Louise or Moraine Lake areas? From June through to October- better be there at dawn, or even earlier, if you want to park at a trailhead. There was a shuttle system but from what I have heard- it was a cluster.... this past summer during peak periods. And yes- my observation is that social media has played a significant part at times, with the hordes flocking to particular spots after someones post on a popular local FB hiking group. The social media thing has also hit hard as ski season begins- a few posts on another FB group devoted to local backcountry skiing have resulted in the inundation of a couple of formerly quiet out of the way powder haunts. Fortunately there are still plenty of uncrowded opportunities outside the national parks- but they are getting busier also. On a positive note- more people, will hopefully mean more public support for preservation, as the Alberta government finally moves towards the creation of a number of new provincial parks in threatened areas. These include Castle Wildland PP to the north of Waterton NP, and Bighorn Wildland PP on the east border of Banff NP.
 
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LarryBoy

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#58
Another article about social media https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/29/travel/instagram-geotagging-environment.html
Jackson Hole is starting a no geotagging ad campaign

More people seem to be aware of the potential problem of everything ending up on instagram or other "cool" places
I think there's a fine line there. Jenny Lake, frankly, never was a secret. Heck, the NPS has a special planner link on their website specifically for it. I'm trying to remember the system (I don't work in public land management), but doesn't the BLM have a grading system for arc sites?

1) Publisized, they'll tell you about it. Newspaper Rock.
2) Non-publicized. They'll give you information about it, but you have to specifically ask.
3) Secret. Duh.

I think we can apply a similar framework to geotagging in general:

1) Publicized. Example - Jenny Lake. Location tag: Jenny Lake
2) Non-publicized. Example, one of random canyons of the Escalante. Location tag: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
3) Secret. No location tag or identifying information. Better yet, just don't post that photo at all.

That said, arc sites in particular deserve special treatment because of their extreme sensitivity to increased visitation. So, with the exception of, say, the Gila Cliff Dwellings or something that's highly regulated, maybe just bump everything down a level.
 
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#59
I've always liked Ed Abbey's idea that we just designate some areas as off-limits entirely. Of course, enforcing it would be another thing, but hey, Hayduke's still alive and kicking (Doug Peacock).
 
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#60
I have spoken many locals near the Grand Staircase. All of them said the same thing: before it was made a monument, only a few people would ever go. They had the place to themselves, with maybe a few photographers and die-hard hikers. Once it was made a National Monument, people flocked to it and the solitude was lost. Now, more and more people go there and do the main headline hikes, but its nowhere near the amount of people Zion Has.

If you want to overrun a place with humans, just designate it a National Park or Monument. Never fails.

Yes, you can find solitude in the Parks, but you have to walk some distance to get to it. You can find plenty of solitude in Zion if you just go to the East Rim and go north or South of Route 9.
 

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