Two Sticks and a Dam

8 Mar

Last week, my Facebook had some bad news for me.

Image from National Park Services
Image from National Park Service

Barker Dam in Joshua Tree was closed indefinitely due to vandalism.  Barker Dam is a staple of the park.  I’ve visited it almost every time I’ve gone to Joshua Tree and I always love how different it looks depending on when you visit.  I’ve been there when the dam is overflowing with water and when it’s bone dry.

Nice and lively in 2010:


Empty in 2012 (you can see the water level):

Robin and I have had discussions about awesome places in the park being ruined by too many people visiting and trashing them.  I think my librarian training gives me a knee-jerk reaction.  I want everyone to be able to access all the things!  Keeping things purposely hidden is elitist and presumptive! 

Then, I see things like this and it makes me so sad.  I understand why Robin and her park people like to keep all the secrets to themselves when sharing them results in destruction.  It makes me so angry at people.  I want to believe the best of them, but obviously they can’t be trusted.  Right?

Image from Reddit

Image from Reddit


So last week, I also came across this letter, posted on the Yosemite Park Facebook page.  The letter itself is sweet, but there’s so many levels to it that just makes me love it more.  Not only did this little girl go to Yosemite, she wanted to take a natural souvenir home with her.   She must have attended a program or talked to someone who told her that you’re supposed to “take only pictures.”  She remembered what she was taught and internalized it enough to return the sticks even after she’d returned home scott free.  I think it shows a mixture of respect for nature, importance of education, and childhood innocence.

It’s moments like this where I see hope again – with a healthy dose of frustration.  I completely get why these places need to be protected, but I also want that little girl to be able to visit the hidden gems of the parks.

I think kids today are being inundated with “green” messages about how they should take care of Mother Earth, but there is absolutely no substitute for positive experiences outdoors.  If we can get kids outside, to see the value of nature, I think we can prevent at least some of the incidents like Barker Dam.

– April


4 Responses to “Two Sticks and a Dam”

  1. Kyle Kuns March 8, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    This is a tough issue. I believe that more people visiting helps preserve the environment in the long run as more personal experiences yields more openness to funding. It may be that more rangers are needed etc. to protect nature from the small percentage of visitors who are destructive.

    • aprilinautumn March 8, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      I agree that would be a solution, but with the national sequester and the California park closures it doesn’t look like a possibility any time soon. Maybe more volunteer would help? But I’d also like people to just be able to enjoy the outdoors without feeling like they’re being chaperoned all the time.

  2. Denise March 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Ugh, that is so sad! When I was volunteering with the Americorps a couple years back there were some non-profits working with youth to get them outdoors, & then running into issues with the kids wanting to graffiti things to show they enjoyed the experience. They built it into their educational model afterwards to teach kids how to leave a positive mark (or non-mark?) on place instead by pick up trash or creatively sharing their love of the place with others. We need more educational programs like that!

    • aprilinautumn March 25, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      That sounds fantastic! I checked out your blog and it seems like you’re doing some cool stuff. It looks like you, me and Robin were all in the Thousand Island Lake area around the same time last year! It’s a small world.

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