Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Desert defiles

To some, Edward Abbey is the Thoreau of the West. I just completed Abbey's "Desert Solitaire," in which the author spends a summer as a ranger at Arches National Monument in the 1960s. Abbey is a true iconoclast--he's also something of an eco-terrorist if you read "Monkey Wrench Gang." "Desert Solitaire" is full of funny asides and incredible descriptions of the desert. One of Abbey's philosophies that I take away is his view of National Park use. He thinks all parks should be protected from vehicle traffic and lightly managed. Instead, he believes, a vast conspiracy has encouraged the use of gas-guzzling cars all across our parks. Abbey's preference would be to keep the parks vehicle-free and force all motorists to park and then shuttle-bus or bike into the parks. There are a number of great Abbey quotes, but I pulled this one off of Wikipedia, and I think it captures the sentiments of his books:

"The most common form of terrorism in the U.S.A. is that carried on by bulldozers and chain saws."

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