Last week’s opinion from Rory Tyler rings as true as anything I’ve heard during the onslaught, in recent years, of advertisement and profiteering off the majestic public lands that surround Moab (“Seven parking spots,” Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2017 Moab Sun News). We need simple, on-the-ground solutions to the overcrowding, NOW. While it seems magnanimous to provide access for everyone wanting to experience the quiet solitude and magical wonder of these inspiring canyons, their very virtues seem to diminish in direct proportion to the numbers of people seeking the experience, and are exponentially diminished by those believing that moving faster and louder through the canyons will somehow enhance the experience. There is such a thing as carrying capacity. Fragile deserts can host fewer people than more resilient ecosystems. Allowing every and any means of conveyance, no matter how obnoxious and impacting, will result in a greatly diminished experience for all. All people are welcome, but that does not mean every use, everywhere!
Why does Moab seem to have no filter, no muffler? We are becoming the Las Vegas of adrenaline sports, and the peaceful, inspirational aspects are receding. The subtle sounds, scents and sights of the desert are buried beneath a new, shiny exterior made of finance, modern culture and ego. The very things people come here for are being pushed away by their need to experience it from their throne with attendants. Like Christ ridding the temple of money-changers or walking into the desert to learn from his maker, we can choose how much we allow Moab to become a cash cow at the expense of community, nature, and sanity. How do we get back to the garden? I wish I had better answers. How do these strike you?
1) Rein in advertising.
2) Choose targets with the least negative impacts to our community.
3) Don’t facilitate activities with huge per-person impacts.
4) Educate visitors and residents in the simple, low impact pleasures of this place.
5) Redirect State efforts to make Moab a motorized playground and traffic jam nightmare with our very own Transient Room Tax.
High-visibility/high-dollar activities also have very high associated costs to our community and the land. Most destruction here can be attributed to a few very visible sources that serve relatively few people, such as RZR/side-by-side rentals. Our town has unfortunately become a target for investors. Sadly it means we are a stage for the conversion of Moab’s natural assets into exported wealth. It has resulted in a diminishment of the quality of life here without a significant improvement: People seem to be working harder for relatively less money, and town is overrun every weekend.
Just because people see a chance to make money here doesn’t give them the right. We have an amazing and unique gift. To paraphrase JFK, do not ask what this country can do for you, ask what you can do for Canyon Country! As a community, we should be able to ask that new business and advertising contribute more than just noise, smoke, money and increased costs.