Fossil Creek is a newly preserved wild and scenic river that may again be at risk due to the very efforts meant to protect it. In a video from Assignment Earth producer Jay Canode tells the story of a beautiful body of water that flows through the Mazatzal Mountains of Central Arizona. With the removal of a hydroelectric damn put in place at the turn of the last century Fossil Creek has been reborn to provide habitat to scores of fish and animal species and recreation opportunities to thousands of human visitors.
And there’s the problem. Canode’s report demonstrates that the sudden influx of automobiles and foot traffic is having a serious impact the surrounding environment. Without sufficient infrastructure in place to provide adequate parking facilities or trash collection Fossil Creek is rapidly becoming the victim of it’s new found popularity. If increased access to wilderness is among the goals of preservation at what point does environmental protection do more harm than good?
“I don’t put much stock into the notion of loving something to death,” said John Sterling executive director of the Conservation Alliance. “A lot of opponents to preservation will say that if you designate an area as wilderness it will get overrun. In my book it’s a good problem to have.”
Awareness that is raised in the protection of wild places will undoubtedly prompt interested enthusiasts to visit. But activists should prepare for that kind of success and include plans for improvements that take into consideration increased access. And of course visitors should be encouraged to observe basic leave no trace principals. The goal ultimately is to protect wilderness from industrial development while protecting the integrity of the environment. The short-term impact of individuals who visit designated conservation lands far outweigh the potential devastation to be caused by checked corporations or municipalities.
“There’s a great quote by David Brower,” Sterling said. “Better beer cans than bulldozers.”
Powered by Facebook Comments