Last weekend, I was recreating with family and got quizzed on a specific hazard tree removal project. Why did they leave the slash? Couldn’t they cut it up for firewood? Don’t they know how bad it looks near a major trailhead?
I certainly don’t know what the answers were, though I had ideas. Then when I got home, I noticed this essay from Bob Berwyn about another project. This is definitely worth a read, as Bob writes about his observations and questions about this project and its design. It’s true that Bob knows more than an average passerby; but it seems like we should be encouraging public interest and questions as a learning experience- even an approach to science (or conservation) education.
It’s great that people are interested in projects, but I have to wonder if in this day and age we could have some simple “how this project was designed and why” that could be linked to Google Earth.
Like the trailheads are on the Fourteeners website here. In general, the Fourteeners website tells you everything you want to know about those trails. You can also scan the trip reports to find out the latest conditions.
I wonder what it would take to start something like this for FS recreation or all lands recreation? Just think- you could find out that campgrounds and dispersed sites were full without driving around. You could find out that the roads or trail is still closed with snow. We could harness the power of the people who are out there (many, many more people than employees) simply by providing a place for them to leave comments.
The Park Service has visitor observation of trail conditions for Rocky Mountain National Park, so it is possible for feds to do such things (although it is kludgier than 14ers.com, in my view).
What if the Forest Service could harness the power of the internet to 1) tell the story of our projects, 2) keep visitors apprised of recreation conditions, and 3) to do some kinds of monitoring (OHVs off trails, regeneration, ?).
Do people have examples of forests and districts who have done some creative work in this arena? Please share.