Climbing bolts are a symptom

  Dear HCN,


One climbing bolt the size of my finger, left on a rock face, is not the problem. One load of lead pellets, shot over a marsh, is not the problem. The problem is the cumulative debris of climbing bolts (and lead shot), and of over-use which permanently and cumulatively scars the landscape (HCN, 8/17/98). Hunters have long accepted restrictions on what they do, recognizing that without strict and substantial seasonal limitations, without limitations on their weapons and methods, they would lose forever what they enjoy most.


Other recreational users of our public lands need to come to terms with the same reality. I don't like it any more than the next person; but there are so many of us that our uses need to be restricted. Certain streams need to be closed to certain methods of fishing, but not all of them. Certain ecosystems need to be largely closed to some types of hunting, but not all of them. Some trails need to be off limits to ATVs and to mountain bikes and similar high-impact forms of travel, but not all of them. Now it seems that some rock faces need to be off limits to certain styles of climbing, but not all of them.


This is all about balance. We must balance and limit our activities, both voluntarily and by regulation, in such a way that we do not overwhelm and destroy the limited resources which make our activity possible. As someone once said, the national parks are for everyone, but not for everyone all at once. The same can be said of other aspects of our natural world.


We need a "voluntary inefficiency," someone else said, in the way we go about things. Taking fish with a poison applied to the water is certainly more efficient than with a hook and line. Traveling a trail on an ATV is more efficient than on foot. Climbing a rock face with bolts and plates and whatever else we can invent is certainly more efficient than without them. But just because it is faster, or more economical, or more efficient, does not make it better.


Let's do better.





David L. Rasmussen


Salt Lake City, Utah


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