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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Loved to Death


Carol Leigh, a photographer based in Oregon, has run and maintained the "California Wildflower Hotsheet" since 1996. The hotsheet was a goldmine of information about where and when to see wildflowers at their best. Whether you were looking for fields of California Poppies or sightings of the delicate Calypso Orchid, Carol had the scoop and gleefully and generously shared the information with the world.

Unfortunately, the world can be rough, inconsiderate and rude without even knowing it. Carol has made the decision to discontinue the hotsheet due to the poor behavior of a few who have disrespected boundaries of private property, trampled fields of wildflowers and even perpetrated vandalism. I definitely feel for her, it had to be a hard decision. What can be more romantic than a picnic lunch on a blanket in a field of wildflowers? How much can one blanket hurt? Or two? With an audience of the entire world wide web the numbers increase. How about two hundred blankets a weekend? Each with running children and dogs digging holes...

People just don't seem to look beyond themselves and their own desires these days. I was reminded of this on my trip to Death Valley. A car parked on the side of the road on top of a large growth of purple flowers when not 50 feet ahead was a barren turn off. The Racetrack area has become more accessible with a good grading of the track. The first year I visited the Racetrack and the amazing moving rocks the track was bumpy and broken... even washed out in places. I carried a tire pump and two kinds of patch and made certain we had two vehicles in tandem in case we got into trouble. We ran into a handful of other visitors all with high clearance 4-wheel drives. This time, there were dozens of cars traveling in around the clock. Most completely ignorant of the risk of flat tire from the sharp rocks and even more who had no idea of off-road etiquette. Broken glass litters the campsite past the Racetrack. Tents were pitched in no-pitch areas along the road with cars pulled alongside making it difficult to pass and even more distressing were the number of foot prints etched into the lake bed surface and rocks taken from their trails.


These places can and will heal if we give them a chance but too much love, too much excitement and a desire not to miss out can smother flowers, places and people... we need to learn to walk softly again. To take only pictures and leave NO footprints so that those who come behind us can experience the same grandeur.

**Update:
Ron Niebrugge To Share or Not to Share
Jim Goldstein Hotsheet in the Hot Seat

4 comments:

Nicole said...

Awesome shots and a point of view I wish more people would heed.
But humans are inconsiderate beings (many of them).
Here we have people walking on reefs, breaking parts of the corals off, trash being burned in the deserts and dumped everywhere and trash bags flying though the air like big birds of prey.
Sometimes you want to despair of human stupidity :(

Jim said...

It's sad when people who enjoy nature end up doing the most harm. I can only hope that those who are most passionate can help land managers keep up to date with the factors impacting the land they protect. Nature requires all of our effort to keep it pristine.

Rebecca Jackrel said...

Nicole & Jim, thanks for the comments. We need to keep educating people and pushing them to look at the world as something to be cherished and conserved, not something to be used and thrown away. Some people just don't know any better - keep talking and help them learn!

Kerry said...

This is a subject close to my heart. I live in the middle of countryside and yet it is littered with rubbish discarded by holiday home owners, tourists and even local alcoholics who discard their bottles in the hedge. It saddens me so deeply that Nature's beauty is tainted by such filth. I often wonder why tourists come here if they just want to use it as a rubbish dump.