You let me say that?

Last week I implied that if you chose to volunteer with the SCA, you were aligning yourself with the motorized recreation groups intent on gaining more access to the Parks. I even included a quote from Ghandi and from Martin Luther King Jr suggesting that you were cooperating with evil. To my surprise, no one called me out on that statement. Well, I guess I'll have to call myself out:

Hey Jersu, you are such a hypocrite. The SCA are hardly the evil empire you make them out to be. It isn't fair to criticize volunteers who are laboring with pure intent just because the parent organization has received some operating expenses from corporations with impure motives. And besides, the motorized recreation groups have their hands so deep in National Park affairs, it is almost impossible to visit these places without playing a role in their plan.

If a park receives too many visitors, we are said to be "loving it to death", and the motor-heads can claim the NPS isn't doing enough to handle demand. If a park receives too few visitors, the local economies of the gateway communities suffer, and the wreckreation league can claim to congress that the NPS isn't doing enough to promote that park. Want to stay at a historic hotel within a park? Well, your hotel dollars are going straight into programs designed to bring more motorized access to these places.

And what about those entrance fees? Think you're being smart when you buy National Parks Pass? Well, under some circumstances, $10 of the pass goes back into the pockets of groups lobbying congress for more motorized recreation in the parks. Even having entrance fees for public lands has been an idea supported by the American Recreation Coalition for years.

So what's your answer to that smart guy? Are you going to stop visiting the parks in support of your own ideals, or are you going to find compromise like the SCA and their volunteers have had to do?

~ Sara Bellum

Well Ms. Bellum, you make some good points. There are times on this blog where I try to paint issues as being either black or white, good or bad. It's easy to beat up on the bad guy, but only if you know who he is. A week ago I was ready to write off the SCA as having sold out to the bad guys. But for that claim to be true, I'd also have to claim that I had sold out. I'm not about to quit visiting the National Parks just because private interests are waiting at every turn ready to receive my cash. And, given the opportunity to stay at a historic park lodge, I would (and have) chosen to do so, even if it has meant some of my dollars are being spent behind the scenes to change the way parks are operated.

What's to be done? If you are strong willed, and you can follow the example of leaders like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, and you believe that the cumulative effect of these compromises is destroying the National Parks, you can choose not to 'passively accept evil' and reject these compromises. This may mean making some pretty difficult choices though. I don't think I'm that strong. Instead, what if we were to suggest that good guys, like the SCA, return the money they receive from the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Marine Operators Association of America, and the American Council of Snowmobile Associations via the Take Pride in America program? If the SCA does believe in land conservation, they may not mind rejecting the money from the motor-heads. Is that a compromise we could accept, or doesn't it go far enough? As an optimist, I'd like to believe we could fix this problem without having to start over from scratch.