Are We Loving Our National Parks to Death?

First a little self promotion, hope you don’t mind. After many years of making darkroom photomontage (since the late 80’s), and not being able to get arrested for it except for a few appearances in competitive group shows, and some assignment illustrations in various magazines ….I am designing & publishing books I make at Blurb with ‘Bookify’ – two of them are on Amazon, one is at Blurb.


The one most appropriate to this blog is:

‘Desert Trip’

Now for the meat of this post:

SundayReview | Opinion | NY Times

Are We Loving Our National Parks to Death?

By DAYTON DUNCAN – AUG. 6, 2016 

“The tension between access and preservation has become ever more strained today.”


Caption: The scene at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, visited by 5.5 million people last year. Credit: Emery Cowan/Arizona Daily Sun via Associated Press

An interesting article, well worth the time to read. It inspired this rambling post, with thoughts that range far beyond just our parks. Join me for some deeper thinking, i hope you will enjoy the ride.

“We’ve built pyramids and castles with them (rocks, stones) and painstakingly cleared them out of farm fields, using them to build low walls for fencing. We marvel at the rocks in the Grand Canyon, Arches and Grand Teton national parks. Yet a perplexing practice has been gaining ground in our wild spaces: People have begun stacking rocks on top of one another, balancing them carefully and doing this for unknown reasons, though probably as some kind of personal or “spiritual statement”.


A call for an end to cairns? Excuse me??

So… let’s tear down the Egyptian Pyramids? And maybe upend Stonehenge and Easter Island monoliths while we’re at it? There are two ways to look at this:

“The building of cairns for recreational purposes along trails, to mark one’s personal passage through the area, can result in an overabundance of rock piles. This distracts from cairns used as genuine navigational guides, and also conflicts with the Leave No Trace ethic. This ethic of outdoor practice advocates for leaving the outdoors undisturbed and in its natural condition.”

On the other hand:

In modern times, cairns are often erected as landmarks, a use they have had since ancient times. However, since prehistory, they have also been built and used as burial monuments; for defense and hunting; for ceremonial purposes, sometimes relating to astronomy; to locate buried items, such as caches of food or objects; and to mark trails, among other purposes.


Are we also loving the planet to death …with carbon emissions? Sure sounds like it, but lets take a longer perspective, like say the 4.5 billion years of planet earth. During this time, Gaia has changed radically, very radically. The atmosphere has developed to now being a most hospitable 75% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, the rest various small amounts. It wasn’t always that way.

It should be noted that with just a small change? Things would be quite different. At 25% oxygen everything would burn, at 20% oxygen nothing would burn. So much for cooking.

And burning? …Like what is happening out west/US right now? That’s mother nature cleaning house. Fire suppression is bad idea. Building homes in these areas? A bad idea, you are asking for trouble. There is a pine tree on Pt. Reyes Ca. that makes cones that will only split open, drop seeds and germinate when scorched. There was a fire there 20 or so years ago… and now the forest has re-grown so thick, a machete would be useless, you’d need a chain saw to get through it.

Click on these links, you’ll be glad you did:


“The fossils of the first known life forms date back to about 3.6 billion years and most likely formed in the oceans using chemical substances found in ocean water. About 1-2 billion years ago, life had evolved to such a state that it was able to split water molecules by photosynthesis and release oxygen into the atmosphere. This addition of oxygen reached a steady-state (= maintained a constant composition) about 1 billion years ago, creating the atmosphere we know today. The presence of oxygen in the atmosphere allowed for the development of more complex life forms that also have their beginnings in the oceans”.


This is a good one, clear, concise:

“Our planet has existed for 4.5 billion years, and it has been a busy few eons. Here are the 25 biggest milestones in Earth’s history. From leaps forward in evolution to devastating asteroid impacts, these were the turning points that shaped our world.”

Another fact: something like 95% of the species that ever populated the planet are extinct. Dinosaurs, trilobites, and so, so many others, all gone, baby, gone!!

So if there is this so-called ‘6th extinction’ – man made… it won’t be that big a deal, not really. Not in the long run. Earth will recover in some way, count on it. You and I won’t be around to experience it, but count on it anyway.

What will be left?

At best, it might be something kinda like this – watch the movie ‘Legend’ w/ Will Smith. At the end, Will Smith’s  character ends up arriving at a small fenced-in self-sustaining settlement of very hardy people who have managed to survive the apocalypse which has left humanity destroyed, for the most part.

Here’s someone who has a radical idea:

Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life

“Half-Earth proposes an achievable plan to save our imperiled biosphere: devote half the surface of the Earth to nature. In order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet, says Edward O. Wilson in his most impassioned book to date. Half-Earth argues that the situation facing us is too large to be solved piecemeal and proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: dedicate fully half the surface of the Earth to nature.”

Humans should leave a much smaller footprint.

I grew up in a small town in Maine, in a house on a 1 acre lot, a big house for 5 people, a garden out back, wild blackberry bushes and rhubarb. There was a big vegetable garden every summer, all us kids had to help, since, as my dad pointed out ‘you want to eat don’t you?’

The back third was just a field, left to grow wild.

Then i went to boarding school, age ten. Lived in a small alcove for two years.

After that, many urban apts. I got used to living small, and liking it. For a while thru one marriage, i was a suburban homeowner for a few years, &  hated it. You don’t own a home, it owns you. I still like living lean – a 400+ sq ft studio apt. Plus a parking space that i never use, i have no car, haven’t for 25+ years. I live in an uban area – 1 block to grocery store, a few more blocks to my dentists and doctors. Two blocks to the bus stop, a quick commute to work.

Here’s a guy with similar tendencies – he says he only owns 15 things.


“I have ambition,” he said, “to have no ambition.”

(Well …. that’s not really true if you write lots of blogs and books, OK?)

Soooo… let’s get back to the short run, the origin of this post/thought –

Are we ‘loving our national parks to death?’

Yes and no.

There are definitely too many people going to the ‘hot-spot/photo-opp places’.


Here’s the parking lot at the highest point in Red Rock Canyon, just east of Las Vegas on a very stormy cold winter morning, christmas day in fact, 8 years ago. I heard at least 6 different languages being spoken, perhaps more. But no one stuck around too long. I hung out for a good while, the clouds rolling east over the mountains to the south were just too interesting to not take in for a good long time.

But many people never go much beyond places like this. 

They do stupid things, like trying to ‘rescue’ a baby buffalo, not realizing that by touching it and giving it a hint of ‘human’ odor is the kiss of death – it’s mother will never take it back, it will die, abandoned.

As for the parks? Some are overwhelmed. You have to make reservations for Yosemite campsites many months in advance. But others?

The land itself is just to harsh, too tough for casual tourists. Sure, there a few people who will scale the face of half dome in Yosemite, but that’s it, a spare few.


I’ve been to Joshua Tree NP, and Valley of Fire SP in Nevada (above), both are places where it is very very easy to get lost… run out of water and food, and die. And not be found for weeks, months, perhaps years.


No one will build a mall or condominiums here. Look at a road map of Nevada – not many roads here, there’s no comparison with, say, any state on the eastern seaboard. Only two clusters of development, around Reno/Tahoe, and around Las Vegas. That’s it.

I’ve tried to clamber thru a landscape like this:


The light boulder in the center is as big as a small house.I didn’t keep track of the time, but i’m sure it took me ..ooh… half an hour to move 100 ft.

One person has accepted the mission to expose us to places like this:

Craig Childs –

I have read all his books, i eagerly await the next one.

Here’s some ‘loving to death’ for you:

There are people who feel free to vandalize petroglyphs.


They may think they are some equal to the original artist, but no, that is not the case. The original artist was leaving a peaceful sign of his/her/their tribe’s presence, and perhaps a direction to their location, perhaps a a prayer of sorts. Some of them are 75 ft. or so above the canyon floor, an almost sheer face of rock. How did anyone get there and suspend themselves long enough to ‘write’ this message?

These were taken in Red Rock Canyon, just east of Las vegas.


Current vandalism has no such intent – it’s just ego and ugliness, showing no respect for the intent of the glyph writer it is written beside or over.

If you want to leave your mark on the world? Do something GOOD for someone else.

And when you visit any park, national or state, follow one simple rule: 

“Leave it as you found it.”

The only thing to take? pictures, and memories.

And last but not least – don’t tear the land up!


Iconic Death Valley landmark vandalized

By Katie Dowd

Updated 4:00 pm, Thursday, September 22, 2016

sliding-rockThis is what the racetrack is famous for: Rocks that seem to slide, and leave a trail.


This is what some assholes did to the space. The desert takes a very long time to heal. I have seen saguaro cactus shot full of holes they may never recover from. They can live to be 150 years old.


I hope these links work for you:

( I have found that the LA Times makes you subscribe before you can read any articles. This doesn’t happen on all browsers and OS, it all depends… on what, i don’t know.)

Top 24 sights on California’s Lost Coast

The trees are taller. The beaches are wider. And there’s no one here but you. Here’s how to get lost on California’s last stretch of untamed coast

Re-published from:

Daniel Duane and Andrea Minarcek,

Published 4:01 am, Monday, September 5, 2016 

Very amusing story, a father/ young daughter road trip:


The Blue Ridge parkway

A few last parting thoughts about California?

California: The land of natural extremes

Amy Graff

Updated 4:03 am, Monday, May 30, 2016

It’s also repository of extremes in human behavior. We’ve got movie execs riding limos in LA, young tech workers in Silicon Valley making big salaries and supposedly ruining San Francisco, off the grid types growing weed in Nor. Cal., and everything in between.

‘Humboldt County’s Marijuana Boom Is Destroying Redwoods and killing rare wildlife.’

“With California poised to fully legalize marijuana, a “green rush” has hit Humboldt as outsiders—Bulgarians, Laotians, Texans—flood into the county and set up industrial-scale marijuana farms. The environmental impact from more than 4,000 pot “gardens” is ravaging the redwood ecosystem that Humboldt environmentalists have spent decades fighting to save and restore. And not just in Humboldt. The marijuana boom in the two other pot-growing counties that form California’s Emerald Triangle threatens a wide swath of the state’s woodlands. Like forests worldwide endangered by development, Humboldt County’s redwoods absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide, making them crucial to the fight against climate change”

“The single biggest threat to our environment right now has been unregulated cannabis,” said Natalynne DeLapp, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center, a grassroots group that spearheaded the effort to protect the Headwaters and its wildlife. “In the last 20 years we’ve seen a massive exponential growth in cannabis production……..

There’s only one solution: Legalize it!!

Election is coming soon, and Ca. has a ballot initiative to do just that. Sounds like it has a great possibility to become law.


As the terminator famously said (and so will I) “Ah’ll be back”