Hmmmm...so we are beating up the backcountry...and LNT is the art of minimizing the damage we do.
First, we each need to settle something with ourselves. How BAD do we want to have the best backcountry possible? Said a little differently: to what lengths are we willing to go to make SURE that the generations to come have a worthwhile backcountry to go to?
A few considerations: There are a LOT of reasons to want to take care of our backcountry that go beyond simple selfish personal pleasure. Our wildlands can offer us examples of a healthy ecology at work (not a bad thing when we are trying to decide what to do with the broken ecosystems closer to home). Our wild backcountry is a very important symbol to mankind of the natural world...and to our place in it. We don't have to be a biology or zoology or any other 'ology major to appreciate the importance of biodiversity...now and way on down the road. Backcountry use can be an important commercial asset to areas with little else going to put food on local tables. Many organizations depend on access to the backcountry to accomplish their mission (Scouting is just one!). And on, and on... Don't let me give the idea, either, that there is anything wrong with "simple selfish personal pleasure"! There are a LOT of very personal reasons why getting into the backcountry is important to all of us.
The following quote says it all for me: "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (1949)
I did my own internal math and came up with the results that I DO care a great deal about what is happening to our wild lands. I found in LNT a way that I could do something valuable by just NOT doing dumb things. The fact that I also get to be proactive and do some LNT training is just icing on the cake.
LNT turns out to be really (really, Really, REALLY!) simple:
For most of us, the 1st and 3rd lines are the hardest. To help out, the good folks who invented, mothered, fathered, nurtured, and finally kicked LNT out of the nest came up with a few guiding principles. These are intended to be thought-joggers that help us develop our personal wilderness ethic...NOT some kind of iron-clad rule that we should slavishly follow (and quickly rationalize away the first time our internal lawyer rears its ugly head). For every "what to do" decision point, there almost always is a range of choices available to follow. Our personal challenge is to have the guts to pick the optimum solution for that particular situation at that particular place at that particular time given the particular individuals involved. "Optimum" is highly relative...we just always strive to do the best that we can do.
The principles have been grouped differently over the years as we try to find ways to make for easier understanding...lately they have been listed as follows:
I like to save "Plan Ahead and Prepare" for last (so we all know what we are planning and preparing for!). I will take the rest in order and will do at least one posting for each principle.
First up will be "Camp and Travel on Durable surfaces"
..see you at "LNT 5- Hiking HARD!"
- Charlie Thorpe
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