'Managing for biodiversity is a mistake'
Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.
Lou Dawson, a guidebook writer in Carbondale, Colo., was the first person to ski down Colorado's 54 "fourteeners." He also hunts, jeeps, snowmobiles and once started an avalanche while downhill skiing out of bounds at Aspen Highlands, suffering an injury that still nags him:
"Managing for biodiversity is a mistake. Human beings are selfish creatures, and the average human being will only value the land when they get something back from it. The environmentalists who say, "I can be crippled, and all I need is to know that the wilderness is there." Well, that's a noble sentiment, but I'm afraid that only a minority of people will ever feel that way." "
Better, he says, to manage for use. "It just doesn't work to legislate people out of existence. It's not a functional way to manage people."
Dawson says environmentalists can be elitists, particularly cross-country skiers: "They're on such moral high ground, it's incredible. They are just so fanatic that they are the people and theirs is the way, and snowmobilers are just a bunch of fat-ass old men and women who like to putter around and burn gasoline - just a bunch of sinners, basically."
One time, while laid up with a knee injury, Dawson went snowmobiling, and at the trailhead several backcountry skiers showed up. "I said hi, and I tried to talk to them, and they completely snowed me, 100 percent. They wouldn't even look at me. It was total social snubbing."