It was once said in a famous poem by Robert Frost that taking the road less traveled can make all the difference. Frost left his poem somewhat open ended by not specifying what ‘all the difference’ really meant. Most agree that the poem’s main message is that we can never be entirely sure of what will result from a certain decision. Here in Nederland though, we feel that Frost’s decision to take the road less traveled is a bad message as it goes against Leave No Trace (LNT) principles. Over the course of the summer, our crew has seen first hand the impacts that social trails and careless travel can have on fragile mountain and desert ecosystems. We have come across severely braided trails, damaged riparian zones, heavily impacted tundra, and, of course, damaged cryptobiotic soil. The focus of most of the Boulder crew’s work has been to help mitigate off trail travel by maintaining sustainable and accessible trail systems in high use areas. Our work has included constructing boardwalks, creating and clearing drains, rerouting flood damaged trail, destroying fire rings, constructing water crossings, cutting out fallen trees, marking ski trails, and closing off social trails.
Putting hard work into the Boulder Ranger District’s trails and wilderness areas has given our crew a higher appreciation and respect for our public lands. More importantly however, it has made us realize that the current state of these areas is a result of decades of management and policy decisions. From camping regulations to fire protocols, each conservation decision made today will have an outcome.
Frost mentions in ‘The Road Not Taken‘ that it is impossible to travel both roads. What he means is that when faced with a decision, you must face the consequences of that decision as it is impossible to go back in time and choose the other option. If Frost’s apparent disregard for LNT is ignored, his poem nicely ties in with public lands management. Each decision made today is of utmost importance as there is no going back. The state our children find these places in will be the compilation of the ‘roads’ we choose to travel today and their consequences. This is why as citizens we must fight to ensure that decisions are made which prioritize sustainability above all else as that will make ‘all the difference’.
– Jake, ‘Nedrecks’ crew leader