I support the Elk Mountains Backcountry Alliance in calling upon our public land managers to initiate winter travel management planning today. I believe all of us can embrace the notion that it is wiser to plan today in advance of tomorrow’s challenges that will inevitably strain our backcountry environment.
Our community of Gunnison County recreationalists has a well established legacy of proactively collaborating on conservation initiatives, striking compromises when it comes to sustaining the lands we collectively treasure. The time is long overdue that we, as local stakeholders and stewards of our public lands, come together to design a sustainable winter recreation plan for the future.
I personally appreciate that we can still experience solitude in the Elk Mountains. I deeply value the sublime sense of my human insignificance that arises when touring into the winter backcountry. When I depart civilization, there is a fundamental service which our public lands provide to the health of soul and mind by being immersed within the stillness of nature.
This passage from the Tao Te Ching authored by Lao Tzu, expresses what I think many of us are seeking to connect to in nature.
Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
The way of nature is unchanging.
Knowing constancy is insight.
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.
Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain the divine.
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.
The preservation of peace as an essential human ‘use’ in the backcountry is important to me, but even more important is the obligation I feel to promote peace for the sentient organisms who are the native inhabitants within this landscape. For the wildlife who are incapable of communicating how recreation stresses their subsistence, I am compelled to advocate for them, by calling for a management plan that accounts for and is sympathetic to the negative effects that disturbances inflict upon winter wildlife habitat.
Ultimately, I am a proponent of our community gathering to empathize with each other’s points of views and collaboratively work to craft a sustainable winter travel management plan.