April 3 (1983, 2003)
Good Days and Bad Days ~ Wilderness Quandary

4/3/83   Sun!!! And, solar energy! My new solar panel has already, in its two cloudy days and one sunny, brought the batteries back up to where I can use my tape player. Even fell asleep last night with the auto-reverse pumping watts through the upstairs speakers while I dreamt. 'Tis wonderful! Sunshine... becomes music! No noise, mess, bother”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2003 23:01:03 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Green Valley: Keep it a Secret?

Hi all,

Tonight I received a message from a friend, who, like not a few of my friends, is concerned that too many people will discover the North Fork American. He'd read of my Saturday hike with the Nevada County Land Trust. His message is as follows:

>I'm not sure how to say this politely, but there is a difference between protecting an area and selling it out. There is a special feeling of satisfaction that comes to finding a place on your own, not quick tour into a place by a veteran. I know you want to protect these places, but sometimes I think you may be pushing the limits of exploiting them. Examples, maps on the internet and guided tours to anyone who shows intrest. If you respond as, "only the people who will go will be the people on my American River list," or "they must be exploited to be saved," doesn't cut it for me. You are aiding the "word" getting out. A place loses something when every one in the Sierra Club and their friend has been there. I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to cross that one off my special top secret places, I was hoping to have a few more years before I drew a "x" through that trail.

Well, this is an issue that has concerned me, too. However, I cannot avoid the conclusion that, over recent decades, the North Fork American has had too few friends. On too many occasions a trail has been lost altogether, or a rare old patch of forest logged, or a house built which lords it over all the rest of us, and degrades the great canyon; and I was particularly galled, a couple years ago, when mountain bike interests kept most of the North Fork American RARE II Roadless Area out of Senator Boxer's Wilderness Bill.

So, on the principle that more people knowing the North Fork, mean more people loving the North Fork, and more people loving the North Fork will watch out for it and preserve it intact to challenge and inspire future generations, I have put up a few maps on my web site and led a few hikes.

On good days I please myself by thinking that all this helps the North Fork. On bad days I anger myself with fears that only the worst can result: too many people, with no increased protection.


Russell Towle

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