Dear DCQ and its readers:
As an advocate of treading lightly and the Leave No Trace philosophy, I feel compelled to share with you a rather disturbing occurence that happened recently. As many of you may know, high school and college classes from the San Francisco bay area to San Luis Obispo use the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas for part of their year's studies, and many of these class events involve backpacking. One trailhead that received particularly heavy use by these groups last spring was the Indians Guard Station/Memorial Park area in the upper Arroyo Seco Watershed.
While the majority of these educational wilderness expeditions integrate a strong wilderness ethics program into their backcountry curriculum, at least one school seems to have fallen woefully short in this regard. After class groups from this San Francisco bay area high school departed the above area, blatant evidence of their presence was found in many carvings of initials and symbols on the surrounding sandstone outcrops. These class groups, numbering perhaps 30 or 40 individuals total, had camped in the meadows area of The Indians after finishing a backpacking trip early, and wandered around with little or no supervision for a couple of days. While their litter, illegal campfire rings, rock pile tie-downs, and inconsiderate yelling and shouting will eventually fade away or be cleaned up by others, these rock carvings will remain as wounds on the land for many years to come.
Ironic as it may seem, what was lacking in this situation is education. Education of the value of undisturbed wildness, and how important it is to enjoy the natural world without so grossly affecting it. It is my hope that whoever was in charge of this group will eventually read this letter and take it and the Leave No Trace philosphy to heart, and perhaps be a little more vigilant and tutorial with next year's students. In the meantime, whenever anyone observes any of these sorts of actions or the results thereof, it will help to contact by letter, phone, or in person the local USFS office in King City to make them aware of the problem. Include as much detail about the incident as can be remembered, as well as photographs of the damage if possible. The Forest Service has expressed concern for the issue and promised some followup action next year, but with the shortage of both budget and manpower on their part its up to us to help out by keeping endless pressure constantly applied.
406 South Mildred
King City CA 93930
Prayers for the Land,