Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Over-Tourism – Now What Do We Do?

13/07/2019
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Dexter and Genelle Richards at Dexter’s Inn circa 1940  ©randallrichards

I grew up in tourism. My parents started a ski lodge, Dexter’s Inn,  in the 1940’s in Sunapee, New Hampshire. I’ve been in and out of tourism over the years, and in different shades of it, from ski instruction, to experiential education, high-altitude mountain guiding,  a guide on the Inka Trail to Machu Pichu, back in the days when you didn’t see a lot of people, and no permits required (referring to the Inka Trail only).

We now own Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters and Mountain Spirit NZ in the Southern Lakes District of New Zealand. So we’re officially back in the industry. However the industry seems uber-industrial.
Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So when is enough, enough? And what do we do now?
Here are some rumblings about our, small, but very fast-growing communities, Wanaka and Queenstown, New Zealand.
First an article from CNN: in which Queenstown is listed, among other areas in the world, as a trouble spot, with over 3 million visitors per year…

Destination trouble: Can overtourism be stopped in its tracks?
(CNN) — We first hear about these places when we’re kids. Famous destinations full of wondrous architecture, spectacular scenery or ancient mysteries that fire our imaginations and fill us with yearning.
We dream, we grow, we save up all our money and one day we finally get to visit — only to discover, read more…

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Queenstown, New Zealand , image©Randall Richards

Next, our local Wanaka Stakeholder Group’s Protect Wanaka Facebook page, a firebrand in its own right (and I mean that as a compliment), weighs in: “Queenstown has been named in CNN Travel’s global list of locations that are currently plagued by ‘Overtourism’, read more…

The Wanaka Sun
The Disadvantages of Tourism
By Allison McLean (journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz)

“Tourism is noted as New Zealand’s top export earner and the cornerstone of its economy. It sustains and grows local communities and reportedly employs one in seven New Zealanders, according to Tourism New Zealand. Many locals consider this sword to be double edged, noting the accumulated waste, erosion of land and consumption of fossil fuels from tourism that put the country’s land and greatest asset at risk. read more…

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Just as shifting our paradigm on how our family uses plastics during Plastic Free July, we’re in the process of shifting how we think of tourism, and how we contribute to the problem or clean up the mess. Whether as suppliers or tourists, we all need a re-think. A saying I heard the other day made me chuckle, and again was a paradigm shifter:
“I’m not stuck in traffic, I am traffic”
Responsible tourism is the future, not simply the bottom line. Here’s New Zealand’s webpage on the subject, as well as another great page on NZ Sustainable Tourism Tourism Industry Aotearoa, TIA’s page.  And acompany, Responsible Travel has had some new global initiatives.  Lake Wanaka Tourism has published a sustainable tourism page.

Unfortunately I see Wanaka and Queenstown going the way of Park City, Vail, or other towns in the Alps, that just got too big, and now deal with smog, traffic and overgrowth, but that’s another subject, I suppose.  Although we, too, are new here, one redeeming attribute is we’ve always tried to live a small footprint, including buying existing houses rather than building anew, living off the grid when possible etc. .

Tell me what you think. Respectful comments welcome.

Mountain Spirit New Zealand – A Video Snapshot

26/01/2019

Check out our new video which gives you an overview of what we’re up to, our goals and dreams to make Mountain Spirit a place where people can connect to nature, themselves and each other. The video was done by “The Master” *Ashley Leung. Ash did the ground work, all editing and production. Keep the good work Ash! Randall did the aerial footage, and Ash made magic with it.

*We feel very fortunate to have Ashley, his wife Autumn and their new daughter as family friends. We miss them them and look forward to their return to New Zealand.

NZ Crown Jewels for Sale to the Highest Bidder

22/01/2019

Half a Million Hectares, Sold
From Stuff.co.nz
New Zealanders have paid $65m to get rid of some of our most treasured landscapes, through an obscure process critics have described as a vast wave of privatization. Wealthy foreigners are snapping up valuable land once owned by the public, who in some cases paid to dispose of it. As gated estates and manicured golf courses spread through our wild places,  Charlie Mitchell investigates for Stuff.co.nz: Who owns the high country? Read more here…

Damper Bay, Paddock and Glendu Bay

Not far from the site of a new development for the very wealthy, golf course included. Here’s a shot prior to all that.

 

Editor’s Note: A bit of disclosure – My wife is South African, and I’m a Yank, and we bought an existing house and small bit of land in Hawea. So I’m guilty by association only in that I’m American. I believe in living lightly. We have an off-the-grid home and retreat centre, with gravity fed water and a small house. The scale and rate at which foreigners are snapping up New Zealand’s high country is appalling, and appears to be changing the very values of the country, by gentrification.

Wildlife’s Overpasses on Today’s Highways

19/07/2012

Wildlife Bridge Overpass – Giving animals a leg up on the auto traffic

Where’s the merge lane and who has right of way when the only traffic are animals such as tigers, wallabies, possums or kangaroos? I suppose whoever is highest on the food chain gets to go first across these overpasses with no roads, and only trees and grasses.

Someone posted the aerial image at right this evening. At first glance it looked like the same bridge under which I passed two years ago on the east coast highway heading north from Sydney, Australia. I dug in my files, and found the snapshot of the bridge and include it here.

I was so taken aback by the site of the strange overpass,  which looked like a neglected highway department lapse in maintenance, that I stopped the car and took a picture. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, and after some discussion with my wife, decided it must a wildlife corridor.

Wildlife Overpass – East Coast Australia

It’s good to see there are others. The Facebook image didn’t have a caption indicating where it was, but looks like it could be another location in Australia. Anyway, “Good on ya” for building this you Aussies! Anybody got an idea how many of these wildlife overpasses there are, and who’s the traffic cop?

Edward Abbey on Backcountry Skills

12/07/2012

Getting out of the city
North Cascades, WA

Edward Abbey: Action outdoorsman and author of Desert Solitaire, *The Monkey
Wrench Gang and 17 other popular novels and essay collections, was one of America’s most powerful and relentless spokesmen for the environment and certainly its most uninhibited. Here, at Abbey’s curmudgeonly bat, is his introduction to The Backcountry Handbook, of which I thought I’d post  the first half. I doubt many fans of Edward Abbey would find this little gem, buried in an outdoor handbook.

There’s one thing that gripes me in my lurching about in America’s blessed but overcrowded backcountry, it’s those androids from the moronic inferno of contemporary techno culture who apparently

Learned outdoors etiquette from The Boy Scout Handbook of I928.I mean the cretins who build their campfires with green logs laboriously chewed from living trees with dull hatchets. And then erect a corral of rocks to enclose a fire about l0 times bigger than even a White Man needs. And then,
upon departure from the scene of their felonies, pile all their garbage upon the smoldering remains-including such non-combustibles  as tinfoil and wet tin cans, wet condoms and Pampers-let it smoke and black- en and stink for  while and conclude the infamy by heaping this mess with a pile of mud and stones.  Everywhere we go in what’s left of natural America, we find these miniature trash dumps. The intention, no doubt, was to prevent forest fires, as Smokey the Bore has been instructing us for 50 years. But fires are natural, inevitable and good for the forest;   Any Native American can tell you that, if you can find one. (The true terror of the modern forest is not the wildfire but the logger with his chain saw, the road builder with his bulldozer, the cowboy with his cow. These types wreak far more destruction upon our forests than any wildfire ever did or could. And wreak it at our expense, financed by our tax dollars.) Why do these Ralph Lauren he-man Campfire Girls build giant fire rings filled with half-baked rubbish? I don’t know. No one knows. They are the product not of thought but of ritual, spastic reflex, ancient ideologies conceived in sin and whelped by bureaucrats. One discovers such mementos even in the sand and rock of the desert, where the nearest tree may be a scrubby juniper four feet tall, l0 feet away. Mysteries of the Wild.  But irksome. There are many things that irk, actually, not only me but you, but this is not the place for a complete listing.

Editor’s Note: Did you know that The Monkey Wrench Gang was blacklisted from the east coast booksellers during its first printing? Maybe the east coast establishment didn’t want to disturb the goings-on, as this book surely tends to do. I have a well-read family member, that has an incredible breadth of education and reading behind him. What’s more he was a hut ranger in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He had never heard of Edward Abbey. I’m not sure if he’s read him yet. I’ll have to loan him my tattered copy of The Gang.

9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ride to Work

05/04/2012

Commuting by bike: dangerous

From: The Adventure Journal
I have biked everywhere within 4 miles of my apartment in the past 5 years, including every job I’ve had — I’ve never had to drive to work in Denver. I find riding a bicycle exhilarating, but that’s no reason for you to think you should. In fact, here are 9 reasons you shouldn’t bike to work. I’m sure you can think of others.

1. It’s too dangerous.
Can you imagine being out there on a bicycle with all these crazy drivers flying past you, nothing to protect you except a plastic and styrofoam shell on your head? You could get killed. The absolute best thing is to stay in the protective cage of your car, because no one’s ever been killed when they’re inside an automobile. Driving is safe.

2. You have to wear a tie to work. Or a suit. Or a skirt.
Not only that, it’s important to wear your tie/suit/business casual attire from the moment you leave your house in the morning until the moment you get home. There is no conceivable way you could leave some clothes at your office, and change into them after you ride your bike to work, two or three days a week. Plus, your suit/tie combination is so dialed, you can’t just spread your tie collection out over two locations. Where the hell is my cornflower blue tie? I need to see if it looks good with these shoes. And like there’s some way to ride a bike in skirt or a dress?
Read the rest of this story..

Thanks to Justin Canny for the post on FB.

Lost Cities of the Amazon

30/03/2012

Downtown in The Lost Cities of the Amazon
by Andean Air Mail & PERUVIAN TIMES ·
By Nicholas Asheshov

A "Lost" people?

Some weeks ago two events, one of them startling, came together to pin-point the mysterious new conundrum of the Amazon.  The first was the appearance on a busy riverbank in the Madre de Dios of a few dozen members of a previously-isolated group of Indians.  They killed someone who had been trying to help them. The naked Indians, seen on TV screens around the world, were described by anthropologists as descendants of an unbroken line of hunting and gathering savages, living fossils of our neolithic past.

Area of Coverage

This is, according to new Amazon thinking, incorrect. These Indians are the sad, socially degenerated remnants of nations and tribes that were productive, sophisticated and stable  just a few centuries ago.The other event was an article in The New York Times that reported on the discovery in Acre, only a few hours travel from the Madre de Dios Indians, of extensive, deep straight, or sometimes circular, trenches, ridges and mounds dating back to pre-Columbian times, indicating a large, well-developed society. This was just the latest evidence that the Amazon, or at least parts of it, was heavily populated by well-organized societies in much the same way as the high Andes were remodelled by the Tiahuanuco, the Chavin, the Chachapoyas, the Huari, and the Incas.

Over the past couple of decades the pre-history of the Americas has been revolutionized, setting off poison-tipped academic and ecological vendettas. First of all, the Americas were populated much earlier, at least 33-35,000 years ago, double the time previously calculated.  That is back to Neanderthal epochs.

An Excellent Read

Second, there were many more people here when Columbus arrived than was earlier thought.  And, most important, the societies and nations of the Americas were much more sophisticated and structured than was previously understood.  They were agriculturalists, not the war-whoopers of the movies.  Their mode of life and agriculture had massive, long-term effects on the original pre-human forests.   Fire was a basic control mechanism.

Today the evidence of genetics, linguistics and archaeology is clear that the Amazon was not just an impenetrable green hell populated by primitive hunters and fishermen eking out an unchanging, culturally marginal existence. The same applies to North America.  Here most of the descriptions of primitive Indians come from 18th and 19th century travelers who were seeing only the sorry leftovers of great nations that had been obliterated by smallpox, viral hepatitis, influenza and other European and African diseases.  The Conquest set off the Dark Ages in the Americas. read the rest of this story

The Wasatch Mountains, Under Pressure Again

04/03/2012

backcountry skiing Big Cottonwood's USA Canyon, behind The Canyons, site of the proposed "SkiLink"

Once again, the Wasatch mountains outside of Salt Lake City, Utah are being threatened by ski resort expansion under the guise of a transportation solution. I spent many years in the Wasatch, and during my absence, Dick Bass has managed to put not only a chairlift in Mineral Basin on the back side of Snowbird, (read “DogBird”, the name coined by mountain guide Dennis Turville) but a crazy tunnel (locals call it the Bass Hole) complete with magic carpet conveyer belt-type rig, under Hidden Peak to allow intermediate skiers access to the once pristine back bowl, Then there’s cat skiing somewhere near Ruth’s pass above Alta, and not to mention the insanity of helicopter skiing on national forest lands.

This proposed development would severely impact the backcountry ski experience and wilderness qualities of the beautiful Wasatch mountains. If you’re a Utah resident, or even a visitor to the Wasatch and you’ve had just about enough encroachment in one range, visit SaveOurCanyons’ website here to chime in and see what you can do to help give your two cents worth.

A sane backcountry skier points out where the proposed SkiLink would go, obliterating acres and acres of pristine backcountry ski terrain and wilderness area.

The Man Who Quit Money

19/02/2012

What? Quit Using Fed Notes??

What Money Is & What Money Is Not – Living Without Money
A Walden for the 21st century, the true story of a man who has radically reinvented “the good life”.

In 2000, Daniel Suelo left his life savings-all thirty dollars of it-in a phone booth. He has lived without money-and with a new-found sense of freedom and security-ever since.

The Man Who Quit Money is an account of how one man learned to live, sanely and happily, without earning, receiving, or spending a single cent. Suelo doesn’t pay taxes, or accept food stamps or welfare. He lives in caves in the Utah canyonlands, forages wild foods and gourmet discards. He no longer even carries an I.D. Yet he manages to amply fulfill not only the basic human needs-for shelter, food, and warmth-but, to an enviable degree, the universal desires for companionship, purpose, and spiritual engagement. In retracing the surprising path and guiding philosophy that led Suelo into this way of life, Sundeen raises provocative and riveting questions about the decisions we all make, by default or by design, about how we live-and how we might live better.
Editor’s note: It sounds like we have another Outward Bound success story here. I read that Suelo has been an OB instructor. Good to see he’s living the dream, and it looks like some of the OB values rubbed off, but I’m sure he had influences from more than just Outward Bound.

A “Modest” Kiwi Environmental Centre

14/01/2012

Check out the South Coast Environmental Society, and stay tuned for the video, “Welcome to the Food Forest”. There are tons of volunteer opportunities as well.