Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Let Those Who Have Initiative Find There Own Way

GMP letter

There’s so much more to this but this is one aspect that needs a voice.

National Park Service
Everglades Planning Team
P.O. Box 25287
Denver! CO 80225-0287


It’s ironic that with all these hearings about what the Park should be, that by far the greatest percentage of Park users, fishermen, guides and guided anglers, and in fact the fishing itself seem to have faded in favor with the National Park Service. Management for fisherman, the people who use the Park more than any other group seems suddenly displaced by “management for paddlers,” where did that come from? Why is this happenning?

Adding miles of “Alternative Kayak Trails,” replete with camping platforms, numbered marking posts, bouys with arrows, cooking sites, toilets and clotheselines, does little to “Improve The Wilderness Experience,” for me. If I were making the survey I would ask the real paddlers, those that go there on their own, if they thought all that junk in the wilderness would ‘improve their experience,’ I’d like to see the statistics on that.

All of that backcountry is available now, for anyone, whether they come by kayak or outboard, they just have do the orienteering on their own, navigate, discover things by stepping off the path, that’s the definition of wilderness; to put marked trails, idle zones, campsites and all the rest of that crap throughout the backcountry of the Park is a huge mistake.

The allure of the Park is the complexity of the wilderness experience, it’s about remote places and a certain endurance required to discover them, even in small motorboats. Noone wants to get up at four in the morning, rendeszvous with the guide before daylight and motor off into the rising sun for an hour and half and finally reach this remote, even esoteric spot and find a campsite with breakfast on the grill and laundry hanging out. Toilets.

Which brings me to another point. Noone wants go through that ritual and arrive at that spot and find a twentysix foot carolina skiff anchored in the middle of everything with seven kayaks beating down every shoreline in sight. Somewhere in the GMP you allude to kayaks as low impact; giant carolina skiffs ferrying kayakers into the Everglades has a huge impact on traditional use, the discrete way of fishing that guides provided in the past, maybe one or two boats quitely poling a bay at the most, now you have eight, and they’re flourescent orange! Who’s idea was this?

The Park is vast by contemporary standards, an intrepid soul who chooses to kayak off into the wilderness has the absolute certainty of discovering something, an orchid, perhaps a manatee really close, maybe a backcountry lagoon with a dozen tarpon rolling, blooming bromeliads, maybe a big fish. Making roadways into this place makes no sense at all. Please don’t do it. It’s open and accessible the way it is, orienteering may be the perfect way to limit impact, let those who have the initiative find their own way and please leave the marked trails out of it.

Captain Ned Small
All photos are the exclusive property of Capt. Ned Small

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