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When it comes to National Parks, I think the horse is already out of the barn and it’s too late to close the door. Their views are so widespread and iconic I doubt any name change would accomplish a thing. Your insight is right on the money for locations outside the parks I think.
Okay, I confess that ulterior motives lurk at the back of my mind. Directing people at the closely managed parks may be a GOOD thing, compared to sending them hither and yon into wild place barely managed at all. I like the idea of frequent ranger patrols and citation books helping preserve the lands, and that’s only possible inside the parks.
I’m not going to argue with you, rather I’ll point out the reality of budgets.
I’ve been to all those parks and most others in the nation, as well as devoting the last 30 years to exploring remote public lands of the west outside the parks from our place in the Rockies (within a day’s drive of 14 national parks and monuments). I encounter rangers many times a day in the parks and monuments. But I’m sad to report that in many hundreds of days and nights on the public lands I’ve encountered exactly ONE ranger. And he was lost, stopping to ask us for directions.
Grim reality or fatalism, but I’d rather direct visitors to the well regulated locations.
This horse (conversation) is dead to me. Someone else can pick it up if they want debate. I’ve reported my experiences, and that’s enough. Seeya.
Using this line of reasoning, Erik Stensland, a founder of Nature First, needs to recall his recent book release, “Hiking Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park”? The fact that Ben Horne is in Zion or Death Valley is rather obvious. Please, let’s use some common sense regarding the disclosure of locations!
Hey everyone, I’ll just chime in here with a few of my personal thoughts. Nature First is primarily focused on getting photographers to be more thoughtful about how they engage with nature photography so it is great to see folks considering the implications of sharing locations and attracting attention to natural areas. At the same time we were intentionally vague in some of the wording because there can be difference of opinion and different situations might require different approaches. Some of us will probably disagree on some things.
The issue of our national parks is a highly complex one. Here where I live in Rocky Mountain National Park we’ve seen an over 40% increase in visitation in the last 7 years. Some of this is due to the photos that we share and some due to a variety of other causes. While I think it would be just fine and even great if everyone just listed #planet_earth as the location, some areas are very easily recognizable and have existing roads and infrastructure to protect the natural areas. For those easily recognizable locations, mentioning a particular national park or not mentioning it won’t make a lot of difference because a majority of people will know which park you are shooting.
However, whenever you step off trail or travel into more untouched areas, then we need to be extremely cognizant of the potential impact of sharing the location. For instance, I am based in Rocky Mountain National Park. I live here and am known for my photography in and around this national park. Yet I’ve reached an agreement with the National Park Service that we came up with together to figure out how to best preserve the Park from the potential negative impacts of my photography. They decided that it was just fine to share the location of a photo taken from an official trail, but they asked that I not share any location that is not on an official trail. The reason is because if it is off trail it will cause new trails to be created, as well as erosion and damage to the wilderness. (BTW, my latest hiking guide was written in close cooperation with the NPS and its partners. It is designed with the goals of visitor safety, education, protection of the land and crowd control. )
While it may be even better to just label everything “Planet Earth”, sharing very general locations such as national park names is probably not a huge issue. Even though I personally am frustrated by the ever growing crowds and see the ever shrinking budget and personnel at national parks, I do agree with Hank that I’d rather have them driving up and down the roads of our national parks than traveling into pristine wilderness areas where more significant damage can be done.
I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. By saying that a photo was taken in a particular NP it may increase overall visitation but primary to the known and easily accessible roads and paths. I don’t think anyone has a problem with someone sharing very general locations of a photo taken in a remote area as you did above. The directions are not specific enough that crowds of people will seek it out. I certainly am not discouraging anyone from shooting remote locations, NF simply exists to encourage us all to do it responsibly.
As far as I know, Ben Horne doesn’t give out location info to fragile or sensitive areas in the parks. I even recall him directly saying in one video that he will keep that particular area secret to protect it from damage and I’m of the opinion of sharing a location as “Zion’s East Side” is vague enough. Zion National Park has a size of 593.3 km² so one could say that the “east side” is roughly half of that - let’s say 300km². That an awfully big area! If someone really wants to visit an area they see on the internet and their willing to put in the time and energy to research and explore, they will most likely find it. It might take some time but persistence pays off. I’m going to go out on to a limb here and say that I don’t think that it’s these people who are going to be damaging the land.
You write, “As far as I know, Ben Horne doesn’t give out location info to fragile or sensitive areas in the parks.”
Are you arguing that the Coyote Gulch is not a “fragile or sensitive area”?
I thought that all wilderness areas were fragile and sensitive?
What about the Neon Canyon? Would you consider that to be a fragile and sensitive place?
Again, what would you have against titling, labeling, and tagging the above videos “Somewhere on Planet Earth”?
Horne’s views/profits may go down, but as a major youtube influencer, he would inspire others to also simply tag and title their videos “Somewhere on planet earth.”
Would not doing this serve the spirit and principles of placing nature before profits?
As I told you in a private message, please keep the conversation civil. You are being extremely argumentative rather than raising this issue in a civil manner. NPN/Nature First is not the place to have arguments, it’s a place to discuss. Maybe it is not your intention to come off this way, but I have had several members contact me because they were concerned about your argumentativeness and where it may lead.
I think this is a great discussion to have without the accusatory nature. Nature First is not about drawing a line in the sand about what/where is okay to share, but to get people thinking about not sharing certain locations.
Coyote Gulch has become wildly popular and it is leading to issues (especially with trash and human waste). The video from Ben is from 2012, before things really started getting out of control, back when it was seemingly okay to share locations. I’m sure his philosophy of sharing locations has changed over the years. This is what we want to see happen, a change in mentality over what is okay to share. You don’t change peoples views by attacking them (especially from what they have done in the past), you do it by encouraging good behavior.
Please stop the combative approach or you will not be welcome here. Civil discussions are always welcome though.
Thank you! I agree with your words, “Coyote Gulch has become wildly popular and it is leading to issues (especially with trash and human waste). The video from Ben is from 2012, before things really started getting out of control, back when it was seemingly okay to share locations. I’m sure his philosophy of sharing locations has changed over the years.”
Then you would agree that perhaps it would be wise for Ben Horne to relabel his videos from locations such as Zion East Side, Death Valley, Neon Canyon, and Coyote Gulch as “Somewhere on planet earth.”
Now that you and Ben have realized that tagging and labeling locations leads to issues such as “trash, human waste,” and other problems in fragile wilderness areas, perhaps it would be prudent to relabel and retitle Ben’s videos and instagram posts. I agree with your words where you state, “I’m sure his philosophy of sharing locations has changed over the years,” and thus it would make sense for Horne to align his actions with his newfound philosophy and relabel and retitle his youtube videos and instagram posts. Surely others will also be inspired to follow suit, thusly serving the advertised spirit of this site. We will all look forward to Horne matching word and deed and retitling his videos and instagram posts, so as to help protect the sensitive wilderness areas.
Also, as my words have only ever furthered and defended the stated purpose of this site, I am not sure why you think they are “uncivil.” If this is not the proper place to argue for less tagging and less titling of videos and instagram posts, as well as less sharing of locations of fragile wilderness areas celebrated in film/videos and photography, please do let me know, and I will find other, more sincere wilderness initiatives to support with my time and money.
Nature First principles were designed in mind to reflect on past behavior, and make changes to our future behavior. Something someone did years ago, does not need to be continually brought up and re-hashed. Many people did things years ago that they wouldn’t do today. Nature First is not a policing site. We are not going to actively go after what individuals did 7 years ago. I have personally seen in the last two weeks, photographers not labeling locations at all on IG or other social media. So, yes, the movement is working, but it’s not going to change the past. This horse has been beaten, and there are more effective conversations we could have having about this other than rehashing what was labeled years ago. Have you ever thought of reaching out to those that have you concerned, other than berating them here? You’re more than welcome to defend your point of view in a civil manner, and that includes knowing when to agree to disagree and move on. Disciplining individuals in not in the agenda of our mission with Nature First, however, educating the future is. We are very much a sincere initiative, I’m sorry if you don’t agree.
The key word here is argue, that’s what I’m trying to get across. We don’t need to be arguing about this, we are all on the same side. We need to have a civil discussion about these matters.
Thank you Jennifer!
You write, "Nature First is not a policing site. We are not going to actively go after what individuals did 7 years ago. I have personally seen in the last two weeks, photographers not labeling locations at all on IG or other social media. So, yes, the movement is working, but it’s not going to change the past. "
Are you arguing that it is impossible to change labels and titles of fragile wilderness areas on past videos and instagram posts?
As past videos and intsagram posts will yet receive millions of views, would it not be prudent for prominent influencers to retitle and relabel their work? Or are you perfectly content with allowing larger influencers to continue popularizing the locations of fragile wilderness areas, even though they could easily edit the titles and tags of their popular videos.
Basically, would you prefer that influencers retitled and retagged their popular videos and instagram posts, or would you prefer the posts and videos to continue popularizing fragile wildnerness areas?
Thank you for your opinions!
Thank you David!
Basically, would you prefer that prominent influencers retitled and retagged their popular videos and instagram posts, or would you prefer the posts and videos to continue popularizing fragile wildnerness areas, which, as you noted, are now afflicted by “trash, and human” waste and other issues?
As these influencer videos will continue getting tens of thousands of views, would it not be prudent to retitle, relabel, and retag the videos, so as to help preserve our fragile wilderness areas? What might your opinion be?
Thank you for your time and opinions!
The nice thing is that I’m not arguing. Yes, it would be great if everyone changed their location tags from the past. But, the reality is, the more productive thing to do would be to influence and change future behavior. Like I said, if you’re concerned about what others have done in the past, reach out to them personally and voice your concern. Maybe they would consider changing their tags and thank you for your concern. We’re all on the same team here. Hind sight is 20/20. But we can’t more forward if we’re constantly focusing on what happened in the past.
Yes, I would like to see sensitive areas re-labeled, absolutely! This is something we should encourage people to do gently, not by attacking them in a public forum. I think most of us would be in agreement with you, but it is your argumentative tone that is the problem. If you would have raised the issue in a polite manner everyone would be a lot more receptive to your ideas.
Thank you Jennifer!
You write, “Hind sight is 20/20. But we can’t more forward if we’re constantly focusing on what happened in the past.”
In no way am I focusing on the past here! I am focusing 100% on the future. Beginning today, if popular influencers begin changing tags on their popular videos and instagram posts, tens of thousands of people will no longer be encouraged to hike through sensitive wilderness areas such as the Neon Canyon, Coyote Gulch, and Zion East Side.
Hopefully influencers will see the wisdom in retitling and retagging popular videos and instagram posts, as this, perhaps more than anything, will help protect our fragile wilderness areas.
Thank you David!
Yes! Great to hear your words, “Yes, I would like to see sensitive areas re-labeled, absolutely!”
Thanks again for this forum!
Hi @ebernstein! Feel free to call me Ben. It sounds a lot less formal that way. Those videos were filmed before Instagram was created, and before the current issues have arisen from location tagging with social media. Back when I posted those videos (2012 through perhaps 2015), very few people watched the videos. That being said, I have seen changes through the years, and have become more selective about what I say and show on video. I completely agree with you that those old videos should indeed be renamed so they are harder to find. I went ahead and did that, and I thank you for bringing that to my attention. It’s something I probably should have done earlier, but in all honestly, I kind of forgot that those videos even existed. It has been such a long time, and they seldom get any views. I’m actually kind of surprised that you were able to find them because you really had to dig deep. Kudos to you!
Let’s talk about how things have changed through the years. Beginning in perhaps 2013 or so, I started to see the impact of increased visitation in Zion and other locations. It was then that I began the process of hiding certain shooting locations. I would even give misleading information from time to time. This has progressed through the years, and beginning in perhaps 2016, I took it to another level and stopped using the names of locations. This was well ahead of the current movement to not geotag locations or give away information. If you watch my fall 2018 Zion Videos or my Winter 2019 Zion Videos, you will notice that I never even say the word “East Side.” Instead, I say “Higher Elevation Areas” to be intentionally vague. This was a decision I made because I felt uncomfortable saying “East Side.” As things have changed through the years, so has my approach.
Let’s talk a moment about going off trail. There are some areas that can handle off trail travel, and other areas that cannot. I don’t think this is a black and white issue. Here’s my general rule of thumb. If I am in a heavily trafficked part of a National Park, I will not step a foot off trail. These are high impact areas, and if someone else sees you going off trail, they will follow suite — and with that amount of traffic, things go bad very fast. An example would be the riverside walk in Zion. There are some wonderful hills there with beautiful maples, but I would never set foot on those hills.
By contrast, there are other parts of the park that people seldom visit, and where you can tread lightly. This includes the washes on the East side of the park (where I picked up about 25lbs worth of trash last fall). If you use some common sense, and walk on durable surfaces, these areas can take it no problem. After all, they get bombarded with violent flash floods and are scoured on a regular basis during the summer months.
If you want an example of a very fragile areas, there are some narrow canyons I’ve hiked through in Southern Utah that have grass growing along the floor of the slot canyon and some beautiful trees in there as well. I hope to be there in the next couple weeks on a backpacking trip, and not only will I never say the name of the canyon online, I also watch every footstep as I walk from rock to rock to avoid crushing the grass or stepping on the small frogs that call that canyon home. On those trips, I follow all LNT guidelines, and even bring along those wonderful blue bags.
We’re all in this together, and I think this is a good discussion to have. We ALL have an impact, and I think it’s important to understand that. As the times have changed, so have I, and I think you will see that if you follow my videos.