As a follow up to my last post. There are some good ideas out there that serve as starting points and examples in an attempt to preserve the outdoor experience and provide space for all manner of activities.
The wide scale adoption of the Leave No Trace Principles demonstrates that it is possible to change behaviors. These principles struck a cord because people realized that they came to the great outdoors for a certain experience.
They were able to have that experience because the people that came before them didn’t wreck up the place. Then because of some combination of ethics, guilt, or their own desire to come back these people also left it like they found it.
But it isn’t just about informing people on good practices. It’s also important to make it easy for people to do the right thing. This is more than putting trash cans at trailheads. A big part of this is creating high quality recreation opportunities for all activities to reduce the urge for people to misuse certain areas.
My favorite example of this is Curt Gowdy State Park here in Wyoming. They have carved out excellent play areas for two of the most vilified forms of mountain bikers, free riders and downhill riders. They also have designated trails for horseback riding and there is plenty of space so a lot of people can get on the trails and not feel crowded.
In situations like this everyone wins.
I’m not opposed to having certain trails or areas that are off limits to certain activities. But it’s naive to think that banning an activity completely will cause the people who prefer that activity to just shrug their shoulders and pack it in.