Wasatch Environmental Update for October 25, 2015
by John Worlock, Member Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons
“Traffic in the National Parks and in the Wasatch”
We’re feeling some sympathy with Kate Cannon, the Superintendent of the popular National Parks, Arches and Canyonlands near Moab, in Southern Utah. Both have been overrun in recent summers by tourists, national and international, attracted by the undeniably special offerings of their landscapes. So she, and the National Park Service, have organized a study to present some solutions.
We want you, the denizens of the Wasatch Front, to shed your geographical boundaries, and go with us to think about the threats to our nearby National Parks. This exercise may be helpful when we address the problems of traffic in our own Central Wasatch Mountains.
The National Park Service was established by Congress in what’s called the “Organic Act of 1916” We’ll quote its high purpose: “ …to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
What we want to emphasize in that statement is that it has no provision for the numbers of those future generations who might flood the landscape, leaving it impaired for those high purposes. The law provides for landscape protection perpetually, meaning forever.
To us, that suggests the control of not only the numbers of automobiles but also the numbers of human visitors. And that, of course, is one of the options offered in their recently published Traffic Congestion Management Plan for Arches and Canyonlands, to be found on the website park planning dot nps dot gov. You are invited to go there and study those options and make your comments.
We now return to the Central Wasatch Mountains, where, similarly, the congestive automotive traffic in our Canyons interferes with noble idea of the freedom associated with outdoor recreation. Mountain Accord has presented us with several options for solving the local vehicular problem, and the promoters of Mountain Accord will be sorting through their costs and environmental impacts. We’ll try to keep you informed, and we’ll want your help. But soon, down the road, we too must learn how to control the numbers of boots on the ground in our precious canyons.