Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico on May 26, 1991 · Page 6
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Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico · Page 6

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 26, 1991
Page 6
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A6 ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL Sunday, May 26, 1991 Tourists Gridlock hem to CONTINUED FROM PAGE A1 nation's public lands are not necessarily places where citizens can seek the solitude of a grove, of redwoods, watch a golden eagle effortlessly trace circles in the air, have a true sense of being alone in the wild. An unprecedented number of tourists from the United States and around the world are flocking into the national parks, forests and public lands, their love of the outdoors becoming a threat to the treasures that attract them. The threat soon will be far greater as the giant Baby Boom generation ages to the point at which, more and more, it will aim its Winnebagos toward the wilderness. Signs of overcrowding appear from the climber-crowded Colorado Rockies to the diver-packed Florida reefs: At America's second-most visited national park, Acadia National Park, on the coast of Maine, 4 million tourists jam the park's 27 miles of roadway each year. Engine emissions join with industrial contaminants from neighboring states to give Acadia the distinction of being the only national park with air pollution requiring the same sort of health warnings issued in cities like Denver and Los Angeles. To pitch a tent in the Yosemite valley's camp sites now requires making reservations with Ticketron eight weeks in advance. Temper flareups over traffic jams in the park last summer helped keep its 21-cell jail filled to capacity. In Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado's busiest, rangers say so many tourists feed junk food to the birds and small animals that beg along the roadside that these creatures no longer eat the delicate Alpine vegetation and then drop the seeds. As a result, native plants are dying out. In the Florida Everglades, the water is so polluted that visitors are warned not to eat the fish they catch. Also, the fertile soil has been invaded by 221 non-native plant species: radishes, lettuce, oranges, limes and others whose seeds came in tourists' picnic baskets. This trampling of the public "back yard" never was envisioned when the United States became the first country to realize that civilizing its frontier would quickly obliterate natural wonders and resources unless steps were taken to preserve them. Unlike any other nation on Earth, the United States formally set aside hundreds of millions of acres of wildlands today's national forests, monuments, wildlife refuges, scenic rivers and seashores. James Bryce, British ambassador to the United States in 1916, when the National Park Act was passed, said preservation was "the best idea you ever had." It started when Yosemite was designated as a California state T : ; - v' r :-tf: . ;!';; 'i v ' '. v . To pitch a tent in a Yosemite National Park, Calif., camp site like this now requires making reservations eight weeks in advance. Thousands CONTINUED FROM PAGE A1 left hundreds of families separated, and many were finally reunited Saturday, as the entire country celebrated another feat of rescue by the Jewish state. Official Israeli sources said Saturday 2,000 to 3,000 Jews remain stranded in rebel-held Gonder Province. Israel still plans to evacuate them, the officials said, but they did not say how it would be done. Israel paid Ethiopian authorities $35 million in exchange for their cooperation, sources said. The money, in cash, was demanded at the last minute, sources said. The sources said it was not clear whether the money was paid directly to the leaders involved or went Bring ft JLftJLJI. Parks preserve in 1864 (it became a national park in 1916). In 1872, Congress ordered the Army to maintain Yellowstone as a "pleasuring ground" for all Americans, thus making it the first national park. Today, the National Park system includes 24.6 million acres across SO parks. Last year, a record 60 million people visited these parks, twice as many as 20 years ago. In the last two months, the number of visitors at the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree National Monument, .Yosemite and Death Valley National Monument all popular winter stopovers was 60 percent more than normal. At around the same time the National Park Service was created under the Interior Department, two other agencies were formed. The Agriculture Department's Forest Service controls 168.1 million acres of national forests and grasslands. The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management controls 175.6 million acres of mostly arid lands in the Southwest. While the mission of the Park Service always has been to preserve parks "unimpaired for future generations," the other two agencies were created to operate the bulk of America's public lands on the principle of "multiple use." Under multiple use, recreation must compete with activities such as logging, grazing, mining, oil drilling and hunting pursuits barred from the parks. Executives at the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management say, however, that tourists now come their way in such unrelenting waves that, in recent months, the agencies have initiated policies to favor recreation over the classic "extractive" uses of public lands. The Forest Service registered 220 million "visitor days" at its campgrounds a dozen years ago and 264 million last year. Cy Jamison, director of the Bureau of Land Management, said his agency is "getting absolutely swamped by tourists." The agency operates many popular boating reservoirs and off-road vehicle sites. It recorded 71 million visitors last year, five times as many as 10 years M M M N.M. Parks, Monuments Popular, Unscathed So Far CONTINUED FROM PAGE A1 last two decades, but they have increased steadily at Bande-lier, with 100,000 more people a year visiting now than in the early 1970s. Another park that has gained favor among tourists is Chaco Culture National Historical Park near Farmington. Visitors increased from near 33,000 to more than 72,000 in 1990. The increase hasn't had a nega By Rene Kimball JOURNAL THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR of Ethiopia into an Ethiopian government account. A senior Israeli official said that in addition to money, Ethiopian officials demanded that Israeli planes be disguised so their government could claim to have carried out the entire operation and that the airlift be kept secret until it was completed. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir greeted the refugees Friday, saying, "Now they are Israeli cit-zens, so no one will persecute them anymore." Officials said U.S. diplomatic pressure helped persuade the Ethiopian government to allow the exodus. President Bush sent a letter last Tuesday to Addis Ababa linking Washington's support for a ceasefire and peace conference in the t Attendance at public lands facilities Is Increasing each year. MeanwhIKmore Americans are becoming "windshield tourists" who engage in short, motorized v sightseeing, rather than extended camping or hiking trips. Visits to public lands Bureau of Land Management In millions of visits 80 280 ZUU i Ort low 4 Cf 50 160 85 '87 "89'90 70 National Parks . 60 In millions of visitors 55 50 r 72 ago. This summer is likely to bring to the public lands the biggest crush of visitors ever. In the wake of the Persian Gulf War and in the face of high prices abroad, a big drop in the number of Americans planning foreign travel may well translate to a stampede to domestic vacation spots, a preview of the sort of park and forest gridlock that soon will come every year. Park Service officials in Washington said the service's visitor inquiry phone lines are swamped as never before with calls from people scrambling to make reservations. Cruise America, the country's largest renter of recreational vehicles, reports reservations up 30 percent from last year on $100-per-day-and-up RVs. "I'd say that if you haven't made a reservation at Yosemite for this summer by now you'd better change plans," said Park Service spokesman George Berklacey. Public land managers have a name for the overcrowding of paradise. They call it "greenlock," and it seems unlikely that it will release its hold on the great outdoors in the forseeable future. In interviews in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country's network of public lands, managers tive effect on the park, said Superintendent Larry Belli. But, he said, it has changed the experience visitors can expect "just because, there are more people." Current use doesn't threaten the ruins, Belli said, but as time goes on, it will be increasingly important for the park to be able to hire more people to maintain the structures. If visitor numbers continue to increase, restrictions may be added, such as only allowing people on the ruins in guided tours. i m 45 Areas Off Beaten Path Close to Albuquerque STAFF WRITER I For Albuquerque residents, heading to the mountains for a picnic or weekend of camping often means taking off for the Sandia or Jemez mountains. They're far enough away that you can lose the city feeling, but close enough that you need not drive all day. With everybody making for the same spots, crowding is a perennial problem. But nearby national forests do have a few picnic and campgrounds a bit off the beaten path, so they don't tend to fill up as fast as the most accessible areas. In the Sandias, the U.S. Forest Service picnic grounds farthest up the Sandia Crest road are usually the best bet, said Cynthia Baca, a support services clerk for the Sandia Ranger District. "Being so close to Albuquerque, all our picnic I Jews Airlifted to Israel civil war to the release of the Jews. The United States also persuaded the rebels, who are reported to be within 12 to 19 miles of Addis Ababa, not to attack the capital or airport while the evacuation was under way, officials said. In a letter to Secretary of State James A. Baker III, Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy said the United States "played a crucial and decisive role" in bringing about the airlift, which he said was "another wondrous chapter in the relations between our two peoples." The excited Jews on one plane cheered, clapped and sang early Saturday morning as they left Addis Adaba, crammed into a Boeing 757 commercial jet carrying 59 people, Recreation trends and public lands tourism facilities! Forest Service In millions of visitor days (1 visitor day -12 hrs. of recreational use) Outdoor 1 1 " ' I L-i"- llllliAJl b7! ytt LtmmmmmmmJ 75 '80 '85 Jhafc to tt 75 '80 '85 '90 SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, National Park of Land Management; President's Commission on Americans Outdoors !-1'Vvrtw3 warned that unprecedented crowds threaten to hit delicate natural resources particularly hard. The crowds will consist largely of the Baby Boomers with their growing families, and of retired Boomers, two groups who demand the roads, lodging places, fast-food outlets and other amenities that are especially intrusive in natural settings. Their impact will be felt far beyond the country's 50 national parks. Boomers will surge into national forests from the Appalachian Trail in the East to the slopes of Gray's Peak in the West. They will swarm onto the sprawling Bureau of Land Management areas where boating, motorcycling, snow-mobiling and other high-impact activities are permitted and popular. Land managers nationwide observe how beauty-seeking crowds swarm away from set-aside treasures like Yosemite to once-deserted terrain like Gray's Peak just to escape fellow visitors. The "slopover" pilgrims fan out across countryside near the parks, but in areas where managers have made little preparation for human pressures on the fragile landscape. Sometimes, as happened last summer when two climbers on Gray's Peak were hospitalized after the "When you look at preserving the ruins as opposed to preserving the visiting experience, you always have to opt in favor of preserving the resource," Belli said. Vandalism and resource damage occur at the parks and monuments, but aren't big problems. Managers say they're taking steps to assure that all of New Mexico's cultural and natural sights don't get trampled. In most instances, that means better educational and interpretive grounds get pretty heavy use," Baca said. "But the farther up you go, the less people." If Cienaga and Doc Long are full, try Dry Camp, Capulin Spring, Balsam Glade or Nine Mile, Baca said. The Pine Flat picnic area just south of Tijeras gets heavy use, she said. If you're game for a longer drive, the Moun-tainair Ranger District has several camping and picnic areas in the Manzano Mountains, all within about 50 miles of Albuquerque. On the Manzanos' east side, the Red Canyon and Fourth of July areas get the most use, said ranger district information receptionist Nancy Meadows. Less used are Tajique, Capilla Peak and New Canyon campgrounds. All are off NM 337 of NM 55, and all allow overnight camping with a 14-day limit. . , ' Meadows said the John F. Kennedy campground on the Manzanos' west side is heavily used by Belen-area residents! instead of its normal maximum passenger load of 198. They shouted with joy again when told they had reached Israeli airspace, although many 'were exhausted or ill. Seven babies were born during the operation, and several left planes in incubators. Military officials said the massive, round-the-clock airlift by 34 Israeli planes and oneJEthiopian jet proceeded smoothly, despite the rebel advance on the capital and near collapse of the government. At its height, the operation transported more than 1,000 Jews per hour, and 28 aircraft were flying simultaneously, officials said. A security force of about 150 elite Israeli commandos was deployed in Addis Adaba, but did not face any serious challenges, officials said. 1 . activities Percent of adults surveyed in 1986 who participated often or very often Walking for pleasure 50 Driving for pleasure 43 Swimming 43 Sightseeing 34 Picnicking 28 Fishing 25 Attend outdoor sports events 22 Camping 21 Visit zoos, fairs, amusement parks 17 Bicycling ' 17 Running or jogging 17 " j 'A Service, Forest Service, Bureau furious rainstorm, the visitors suffer at the hand of nature. More often, however, it is nature that pays. James Ridenour, director of the Park Service, recently praised the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service for taking the pressure off parks by letting visitors engage in activities that would be banned in the national parks. Ridenour explained in a memo to his staff, "The BLM and the Forest Service allow the use of recreation vehicles (off-road vehicles) and types of recreation development (ski areas) that usually aren't appropriate on park lands. By taking some of the pressure for such uses off of park lands, they are helping to protect and preserve park resources." Environmentalists express alarm that use-oriented agencies like the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, to help take the pressure off of national parks, write less strict rules for the lands they control than are written for the parks. They note that tourists pick up shards of Anasazi pottery on unpolled lands just outside Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. programs, because the more people know about a natural or cultural feature, the more respectful they are. For example, people entering Carlsbad Caverns are warned by rangers that simply touching the caves' formations can cause damage. Fingerprints carry oils that permanently stain the formations. At White Sands, Superintendent Dennis Ditmanson said, there is occasional damage to the giant white dunes, but he has bigger r UMM.;( t.ii. y-' V Ethiopian Jews cover the floor of an airliner with its seats removed on their way to Israel from Addis Ababa Saturday. Time away from home In percent of visitors surveyed at public recreation areas O1SS0 3 1985 Less than 6 hrs. 0J.70 24.4 6-12 hrs. 14.2 15.2 10.4 JW. 2-4 days 14.7 12.5 U. 4 ; I I 1j h 5 days or 39.4 yj- mor9 1 '2 Knight-Ridder Tribune NewsRICK TUMA ' ' ;'i They point to the off-road vehicle , races on Bureau of Land Manage-j , ment property around Death Valley -National Monument. The Sierra Club and other environmentalist; , groups say these races pose serious threats to the endangered desert tortoises that live only in that area.k Pressures are growing from1 groups like the National Parks and.!? Conservation Association to have, managers set quotas on the number.' 1 of visitors who can enter each park based on each area's "carrying capacity." Schemes to "ration para-ri dise," however, often have col-(. lapsed despite the benefits they,, offer to the environment and to the;, tourist experience: fewer people, j fewer cars. The American public, however, seems unwilling to accept ,m the inconvenience the reforms 4 would create for vacationers. People tell public opinion polls! j that they are environmentalists and 1 that they favor preservation of the -public lands for use by future.,, generations. But the failure of entry,,! limits, lotteries, shuttle buses and ! other initiatives indicates that when vacation plans are at stake, people j vote differently than they do when , the pollsters call. I, , 1. NEXT: The politics of beauty ."! worries about traffic problems and" drinking and driving within the monument. Kegs have been outlawed, and the monument is ban-'' ning glass containers because; broken glass has been the biggest cause of injuries requiring first aid." The emphasis at White Sands has; been on recreation. But Ditmanson said he would like to complement that by helping people learn mor about the geological phenomenon that formed the unique dunefield,' as well as how plants and animals evolved to live in that environment In the Jemez Mountains, the Paliza picnic and campground is the least used, said Dennis Trujillo, assistant recreation and lands staffer for the Jemez Ranger District. The Jemez district on Friday opened a new camping area to help ease congestion. The Jemez Springs campground is on NM 4, about six miles east of the La Cueva junction. In the Jemez Coyote Ranger District north of Cuba and west of Abiquiu, there are some good, dispersed camping areas along the Rio Chama that aren't too heavily used, said district recreation and lands staffer Dwight Devereaux. The Rio Puerco and Resumidero campgrounds south of the town of Gallina also are good bets, he 'said. ' But, because district roads become muddy in summer, Devereaux suggested campers call the ranger station at 638-5526 ahead to time to get a road report. The station is closed on the weekends. r. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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