Not sexy: Routine maintenance
for the Siskiyou Hiker
22 APRIL 2017 | KERBY, ORE. — Think of it like a car, or a house. Most people would rather spend $1,000 on a new pair of chrome plated rims than 50 oil changes. Most people would rather add a new room to their house than fix the old plumbing. It just sounds better.
But eventually the plumbing leaks and the home sustains acute water damage. The new addition looks great, but the house’s bones are junk. The car engine blows up, and there’s nothing to spin those shiny new rims.
That’s what’s happening on public lands right now.
The National Parks Service is knee deep in a 12 billion dollar maintenance backlog, reports High Country News. At a recent House subcommittee on Natural Resources and Federal Lands hearing, witnesses provided powerful testimony regarding philanthropy on public lands. 100+ year old trails to places like this were totally impassable, until we adopted them.
Foundations and “friends groups” are eager to pay for hot projects backed by the potential of strong social capital. Think new buildings and big land acquisitions. “There is no philanthropic appeal to projects such as wastewater treatment plants,” wrote Deny Galvin of the National Park Conservation Association.
And there’s very little philanthropic appeal for restoring and maintaining backcountry trails as well.
New trails are breaking as old ones are crumbling. Roads, trails, bridges, and facilities are falling apart, and the agencies continue expanding their footprint through acquisitions. This historic trail in the Wild Rogue had been left to the landscape. We restored it in 2015 and maintain it every year now.
We won’t be part of that trend, and we’ve turned down funding because it was for projects we didn’t think were sustainable. This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon, and we’ll be around to maintain trails in perpetuity, no matter what is going on in the periphery of our mission.
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