Tread Lightly

It’s a radiant day in the real west. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Bits of green are poking through the dead and brittle grass. The golf course has opened in spite of not being in the least ready. People are out and socializing with neighbors they haven’t seen in months. Winter — even this very open winter — is always a kind of cocoon here. People LOVE spring and summer (except me). OH well. At least last week we had a real snow and frost on the trees, and, all in all, I think, I’m kind of glad that winter never really materialized this year. It was probably for the best, except for nature and farmers and everything that really matters…

California. When I moved there from Colorado back in the 80s, I was horrified that trails in (frequently used) wilderness areas were fenced. I didn’t understand it, but after a while I realized that hordes of people have a deliterious impact on nature. When I worked for an urban wilderness park, I was always recruiting people for trail maintenance which often meant fencing. Friendly fencing, but still obstacles to keep people on maintained trails. I went 180 degrees.

Because of the mild winter, my little walking place — Shriver/Wright Wild Life Area — has seen so much foot traffic that it looks like an overused vacant lot. I don’t even want to go there and add my 10 feet to the impact. People are cutting trails, trampling on plants (and they probably? might?) not even know what they’re trampling on (wild iris!). And bicycles — I love mountain bikes. I have one, but they are very, very bad for the ground and really should stay on trails. BUT someone is ridiing a mountain bike out there wherever, and it’s damaging the surface just as if the bike were a tank.

Just because there are hundreds of square miles of undeveloped land here in the San Luis Valley, doesn’t mean that one small place (a 1 mile loop trail) isn’t vulnerable. It’s vulnerable. VERY vulnerable. I think it should be closed for spring and maybe people need to get in there and put up signs like, “Stay on designated trails, please!” “Cutting trails causes erosion.” “Cutting trails destroys plan life.” “Give animals their space. Stay on human trails.”

But maybe summer — which is mosquito filled and nasty — will do the job.

26 thoughts on “Tread Lightly

      • It would be nice if they had some signs. Maybe with some photos of the iris to explain their significance. Sometimes a keep-off-the-grass sign is not enough on its own. But a sign that educates people about the reasons for sticking to the path can be more helpful. Does your little shire have a public FB page that you could leave a suggestion on?

      • True! I posted this on Facebook and it’s had a GREAT positive response. I’d just be happy if it served to remind people to be a little more conscientious. I’m also going to volunteer to post signs or block cut trails. Why not? I’m there a lot. šŸ™‚

  1. The other side of the picture, although Swiss trails are not wide enough to be fenced in and moutain paths are to dangerous for fences. The Swiss are quite disciplines and there are posters everywhere telling you what not is allowed. You live in a wonderful place, so much space.

    • I think a great thing about CH is that trails are marked with direction and distances. But best of all about CH is that people are educated from childhood about how to go wandering and care for the trails.

  2. Mosquitos — terrible torture for bad behavior! So many people are terribly ignorant of the vulnerability of our wilderness — and when they all congregate in a location, the effect is multiplied beyond the pale! I like the idea of signs.

  3. Signage helps. Up here on the front range, a lot of our trails get “loved to death”. Certain areas are now closed off when its muddy to prevent further erosion and mangling. I get annoyed when it impacts my plans for the day, and I do understand, its a major issue. Like the idea of signs and the FB page. Gorgeous photo!

    • Thank you! I’ve shared my concerns with Parks and Wildlife and volunteered to post signs and put barriers on informally cut trails. I really believe in educational signs. I think people pay attention to them more than they do to “Keep out!”

  4. Once the mosquitoes come out in force, it’s AMAZING how people not only stick to the trails, but often stick to staying home.

    We have signs all over our parks to stay on the trails. Mostly, we do because they are a lot easier to walk, but every now and again, I admit that there’s a picture to be taken and a short trip off-lane is the only way to get it. But we are careful and try not to do more than tread lightly.

    • Mosquitos in the evening and horseflies in the day time. šŸ™‚ And the whole area reopens in mid July which will take the pressure off a bit. I don’t think one person taking a photo is a problem. One person riding his mountain bike across plants every single day is a problem.

  5. I hope your idea of signs works, Martha. We have signs all over the beach (and at our downtown market) that dogs are not allowed (sorry Bear and Dusty) and no glass is allowed on the beach. Don’t you know that people bring dogs everywhere and leave beer bottles in the sand. If they don’t like the sign, they don’t see the sign. We gotta save this planet somehow!

    • Yep. I posted on the Monte Vista Facebook page and got a good response. I think it might just take some low-key physical barriers. šŸ™‚ I volunteered.

    • I don’t know a lot about Phoenix because it’s changed a lot from when I used to hang out there.. I have friends in Goodyear — formerly a small town and now a bedroom community west of Phoenix, and I’ve visited. It’s very nice — suburban American meets the desert. Housing developments put together very thoughtfully. Phoenix has grown very very fast in the past ten years so traffic is a little crazy; the highway system hasn’t caught up. The only thing is you have to really like the desert to be happy there. Winters are fantastic, beautiful. Monsoon season (August) is beautiful, too. There are MF dust storms from time to time. I like Arizona A LOT so if I got a job there, I’d be happy (assuming I still wanted to influence young minds…) šŸ™‚ Where’s the job (and GOOD LUCK!!!!)

      • Thanks for the insight. The job is in the Maryvale community. They would like to be the first A-rated school in the district and Iā€™m looking to escape the snow. Iā€™m not sure how ted feels about deserts though. I promised him a beach.

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