Right now, the world is in recovery. It is also in bloom.
It is reasonable at a time like this to feel the cabin fever, after weeks spent inside, apart from loved ones. It is reasonable to desire a change of scenery, or a trip outdoors. It perhaps is even reasonable to want to participate, as a previously locked-down, quarantined public, in activities that invigorate our sense of hope and life energy: camping, backpacking, hiking, and generally visiting our beautiful state and national parks (and surrounding BLM lands). Now is not the time.
Just yesterday, May 7, officials at Gunlock State Park made the difficult decision to shut off the falls below Gunlock Reservoir due to excessive crowding. Hundreds gathered in close proximity, leaving over “5-trailers-worth of litter” at the site. Other Southern Utah state parks, such as Sand Hollow and Snow Canyon, have reached capacity by early morning or afternoon. Still others, such as Quail Creek and Goblin Valley, have restricted visitors. Bryce Canyon and Arches will both be opening this weekend or in the near future, however, the limited capacities in addition to the large number of out-of-state visitors may cause unknown amounts of harm to the limited infrastructure in BLM sites surrounding capped out parks.
The potential for great ecological damage and health concerns that visitation may cause at the present time leads one to consider staying home at while longer. Spring can be enjoyed at our doorsteps and in local municipal parks. The “great outdoors” may draw us in, but we should ultimately act more responsibly – and visit our favorite public treasures at a later date – if we want to remain in good health and prevent further spreading of the pandemic.
Originally published May 8, 2020