Grand Canyon

Should Personal Drones Be Banned in National Parks?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | June 16th, 2014 | 1 Comment
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Caifornia, drones, Eco Travel, environment, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Haleakala National Park, hawaii, Mojave National Preserve, national parks, nature, nature photography, Olympic National Park, photography, travel, UAV, Washington, wildlife, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park

Bighorn sheep in Yellowstone National Park

Standing in the presence of the unbelievably immense, monolithic slabs of stone in Zion National Park is an experience that is not soon forgotten and, I’d argue, even spiritual. Gaze up at those massive sandstone cliffs as you hike The Narrows and you’d swear you’ve entered an alien world where 2,000-foot-high gods of rock rule. If you’re brave enough, you can even trek on the shoulders of those gods, by walking on the aptly named Angels Landing Trail. And since 84 percent of the park is designated as wilderness, there are scores of other spots where you can commune with nature and find solitude.

But now imagine that you’re in Zion walking that precipitous pathway — with sheer drop-offs on both sides — and a drone buzzes close by your head. Not only does that distract you and make you feel unsafe, it suddenly changes your great outdoor and unplugged experience.

Similar scenarios in our national parks have caused some of them — including Zion National Park — to ban drone use. While some applaud the move, others feel that their preferred way to photograph the parks is being unfairly singled out and prohibited. But is attaching a camera to a drone truly similar to other forms of photography?

Should Natural Areas Be Preserved — or Conserved for Our Benefit?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | July 17th, 2012 | 7 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: arctic, biodiversity, cities, conservation, conservation efforts, conserve, Eco Travel, endangered-species, environment, environmental, environmental activists, environmental awareness, environmental issues, environmentalism, environmentalist, forestry, Galápagos Islands, Gifford Pinchot, Grand Canyon, John Muir, natural areas, nature, people, Peter Kareiva, preservation, preserve, pristine, save the environment, species, The Nature Conservancy, travel, U.S. Forest Service, wilderness, Yellowstone National Park

Yosemite National Park

In the environmental world, it’s characterized as the classic battle: Should wild areas be preserved for their intrinsic qualities or conserved for their resources? In other words, should nature be used for “the greatest good for the greatest number of people for the longest time,” as nineteenth-century progressive environmentalist Gifford Pinchot put it; or should the wilderness be protected and revered without human intrusions, a view espoused by romantic environmentalist John Muir?

Today, with a burgeoning population encroaching on our remaining wild areas and economic help scarce, many would say that Pinchot’s beliefs are more realistic for the modern world. In fact, there are even those, such as Peter Kareiva, The Nature Conservancy’s chief scientist, who would take Pinchot’s notion a step further: Natural areas must be managed to benefit humans, if they are to survive at all.

Should We Stop Designating Lands As “National Parks”?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | February 15th, 2010 | 16 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon, helicopter tours, Ken Burns, national parks, snowmobiles, wildlife, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

National parks need to be killed.

It’s a shocking idea I came across recently. Ken Burns’s newest PBS series aside, they’re doing more harm than good to our places of natural grandeur and dwindling native eco-systems.

Is It Best to Keep Beloved Natural Places Secret?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | April 14th, 2009 | 7 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Grand Canyon, Montana, natural landmarks, natural places, secret places, Southwest, spiritual, spiritual places, Yaak Valley, Zen

secret_1Like all traipsers through woods and walkers of rivers, I have a few favorite secret places. I could go on and on about their beauty, about what makes them so different from any other location on Earth, about the feelings they elicit from deep down in my core. But if I tell you, you might visit them and then bring your friends; and then they wouldn’t be my secret undisturbed refuges anymore.