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What to reduce first? Footprints or tire tracks?

When it comes to man vs. machine, machine usually wins, but not always. When it comes to man & machine vs. Earth, guess who wins? Exactly, not Earth. The havoc created by motorized “recreation” in the national parks is getting more and more attention. The New York Times recently had an article on the subject. As luck would have it, Chelsea Green has a book on this subject, Thrillcraft. The book exposes the lasting damage done to the land, water, and air from the growing plague of jet skis, quads, dirt bikes, dune buggies, snowmobiles, and other motorized recreational craft that are penetrating the last bastions of wild America. Offroad vehicle use has been deemed responsible for wildlife habitat fragmentation, disturbance of sensitive wildlife, soil erosion, spread of invasive weeds, loss of silence, as well as water and air pollution. Here’s a snippet from The New York Times article that captures some of that sentiment from the ranchers and people most directly affected:
“Forty years ago when I was out cowboying I never saw a soul,” said Heidi Redd, who operates the Dugout Ranch near Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah. “Now it’s at a point where you realize the public land is not yours, you’re just one of the users. And whether it’s A.T.V.’s, horses or climbers, it’s a traffic jam.” “There are so many of these machines,” said Dave Petersen, a bow hunter who monitors public lands issues here in Durango for the environmental group Trout Unlimited. “It’s made our big public lands much smaller, for the wildlife and for us.” Environmentalists worry about the destruction of fragile soils and erosion, when outsize Western rainfalls course through the ruts left by hill-climbing all-terrain vehicles. There are also concerns for streams, rivers and wetlands, precious resources in the arid West and magnets for those who think all-terrain-vehicle riding is best when muddy. “They wouldn’t do this in their backyard,” said Liz Thomas, a lawyer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “But it’s not their backyard.”
To read more about Thrillcraft, its authors and the organizations behind it, check out this great review from The Chronicle Herald of Nova Scotia.


Dear Humans: Listen to Ben Kilham. Signed, The Bears.

When it comes to fatal human-bear encounters, too often it’s the bear who ends up on the losing end. The most recent story occurred in Thetford, Vt., where a hungry bear with slim pickings began seeking out food in town. After unsuccessful attempts to thwart the bear – known to bear rehab specialist and author […] Read More

Reimagining Restoration as a Radical Act

Finding ways to manage “invasive” species as we’ve come to know them has sparked a vigorous debate within conservation and restoration communities, as well as farmers, gardeners, and permaculturalists.In her thought-provoking book Beyond the War on Invasive Species, author Tao Orion urges us to rethink and reimagine restoration as a way to break out of […] Read More

Trust Your Unconsciousness: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas on Writing

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is a New York Times-bestelling author, traveler, and astute observer of the natural world. In Dreaming of Lions, a paperback edition of her memoir, Thomas pens a powerful new afterword and a selection of photos from her extraordinary life is included. Below is an excerpt from her chapter about writing, and her […] Read More

Ask the Experts: Submit Your Permaculture Questions Now

Attention all growers, food-lovers, and green-living enthusiasts, we are once again celebrating Permaculture Month by putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you.Chelsea Green is proud to publish and distribute some of the most recognized, and award-winning, names in permaculture, and we’re making several of them available to our readers to answer any and all […] Read More

Recipe: Pascal Baudar’s Basic Wild Kimchi

Experiment with what you have, anything from the mustard family will work extremely well. Read More
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