Letter to the Editor: Backcountry backlash

In reference to your article "Ministry withdraws from backcountry talks" in last week's Valley Echo...

Dear Editor,

In reference to your article “Ministry withdraws from backcountry talks” in last week’s Valley Echo — if there was any question whatsoever surrounding many avid backcountry users hesitance to find any level of trust in the CVRAC process or with those who have initiated it, one only needs to read Pat Morrow’s comments which are shared by many in groups and organizations that Pat and Gerry Wilkie are associated with. Not only does Pat propose that there is an “… epidemic of environmental degradation… in both the front and back country… ” but goes on to refer to people who enjoy different types of activities than he enjoys as “jack asses!”

Epidemic? Where? Jack asses? Really? Some pretty strong language to be sure!

Since we are addressing uses in the front and backcountry, I wonder if Mr. Morrow would care to clarify exactly where he and lobby groups like Wildsight and others draw the line between an outdoor enthusiast and when one becomes a “jack ass?” Are skiers jack asses? Are cabin owners (other than your friends who own cabins) jack asses? Are quad users and dirt bikers who explore forest service roads jack asses?

Are mountain bikers who roll silently past goats licking salt off rocks jack asses? Or are we all jack asses the moment we break the plane of town and enter the back country unless we’re members of your club?

I and almost all regular backcountry users have a deep respect for the natural world but we also believe that people are part of the natural world.We believe that a complete life includes a great deal of time playing, exploring, hunting/fishing, skiing and teaching our “jack ass” children how to use the backcountry responsibly to be enjoyed by every generation that will come after us.

The first problem is that any “backcountry use” has been exalted to the realm of hypersensitivity by groups who believe they speak louder than our democratically elected officials.

The next problem lies in defining who is and who is not a jack ass. The Morrow-defined jack ass has become so incredibly ambiguous that anyone who enjoys spending time recreating in nature should be very vigilant, even afraid of any group that purports to regulate use.

This is why I and many others have removed themselves from the CVRAC table and why I applaud Minister Thomson’s decision.

This is not about an “epidemic of environmental degradation” or “removing local people from land use decision-making” as Norm Macdonald continually suggests whenever he is vying for the green-ish vote, but rather insuring that respectful local people can continue our love affair with the mountains, streams, lakes and meadows the exact same way our mothers and fathers taught us to and the exact same way that our children will teach their children to.

Time to think twice — there’s room for all of us out there: jack asses and Morrows alike! So leave your hang-ups at home and get outside and play…together!

Respectfully,

Dave McGrath

Invermere