I would like to thank Chris Baird for his thoughtful and well-reasoned editorial (“Wilderness, society and economics,” May 25-31, 2017 Moab Sun News). Chris made some good points, and it took guts for a wilderness supporter to bring up issues that do not fall strictly within the wilderness party line.
I too am a supporter of wilderness. And I would much rather hike and explore with oil and gas development around me than lots of tourists. You know why? Because they stay on the road. Also, they are quieter. They do their job and they go home. They don’t get all agro and greedy and insolent out there. The evidence of respect for the land is present with oil and gas; not so with the type of tourists Moab’s been experiencing for the last decade. Driving wherever they want, making their own roads, tearing up the land, doing brodys and leaving trash in their wake. Interestingly, I don’t see this behavior on biking, motorcycle and hiking trails. I only see this near Jeep and ATV roads. The evidence is on the land. Ride with Respect has done a great job cultivating a culture of respect for the land among cyclists and motorcyclists. I wonder when we will see a similar movement in the four-wheel and ATV community?
Regardless, Chris is right. Promoting tourism as landscape preservation is a complete farce. Moab asked for it, and got it. Now we are paying for it.