This past weekend a visitor in Goblin Valley State Park near Green River, Utah decided a 170 million old rock was unsafe and had to be toppled over to protect other visitors from harm. By damaging the rocks this man was trying to protect us from the very nature of this park's main features. Was this right or was he acting in a altruistic manner?
As a photographer who visits State and National Parks all the time I am very aware of what damage can be done in these fragile areas. I was discussing this story with a good friend of mine, Matt Buker, who spends a lot of time in this very park camping, hiking , and photographing and had some very good thoughts about the situation. The following is his response:
“My son and I present The Desert to the second graders at his school every year. One thing we do is try to let them know that our wild places, our mountains, our canyons, our oceans, lakes, rivers and our sky are all precious. Some perhaps more then others, but all worth the fight.
Most important are the ones we all agree to call our Parks, Seashores or Monuments are especially important. They mark something greater, something bigger, something deeper or higher, but something we all as Americans and the world agree is worth protecting.
Taking, destroying, undermining or just not standing up for any of these places is a shot to the heart of each and every one of us and our future wanderers. Whether you go to these places or just know they are there, these are OUR walking museums, which we hold dear and have made the commitment to protect.
After seeing this CNN video, I believe we all could use a simple reminder. We could all agree, the men in this video obviously made a mistake. All we can do now is hope they find some time and a place to consider what they have done beyond being defensive about why. I myself hope they find it within themselves to change. And then, I also hope they can help spread the word to others.
It's important, maybe one of the most important things of all to me, is for everyone to understand the little things we do to these unique places add up. Maybe not within days, or years or centuries, but once destroyed will be forever destroyed. You can't tape together 10 million years natures artistry.
I know we are all better then our worst days and we all can become better people; however, our wild places don't have that ability. Their best days are behind them, so it is up to us to work together to help protect them.
Goblin Valley holds a very dear place in the hearts of my son and I. Over the years, we have been lucky to have shared this magical place many of our family and the friends. And while this event is upsetting, we'll go back, and we won't hold any grudges.
Let's work together to keep these kinds of things from happening to the places you love. Wherever in the world they may be.
I'd be happy if you shared this to help us spread the word.”
Maybe we can learn from both of these men and remember these areas of preserved nature are a privilege to visit and should be treated as such. Remember when you are out taking photos or just visiting to “Leave no Trace”.