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Old 12-18-2015, 06:59 AM   #11
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No easy answers. (And we will be visiting a county preserve on our way to see in-laws in Florida this weekend).
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Old 12-18-2015, 07:59 PM   #12
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When our kids were all home, we used to pack them up and take them on a 3-4 week vacation every year. We always went west. We often meandered west via non-Interstate roads. We visited many NWR's. As I recall, most of them had relatively small sections open to the public with boardwalks and a Visitor Center, etc. Many of them had large areas that were off limits to the human visitors in order to give the wildlife a place of refuge. We also visited a few that were so far off the beaten path that no one bothered to stop there anyway.

I think exposure to nature and wild life and wild areas is important - both for our health and well being and also to nurture respect and caring for those places and their critters. People just don't care about what they don't know. If the NWR's are closed to visitors, I think we risk losing them because people won't care about what is there. The NWR's are a great educational experience for the kids, too. We met some wonderful Rangers, always eager to teach and to answer questions.
Nicely said, and I fully agree...
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Old 12-19-2015, 12:04 PM   #13
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The problem I see is how much of the NWRs are open to the public. It used to be that only small amounts were open. Now the policy is to open increasing amounts. Alligator River, for example, has roads running all through it that are open. Granted, they are mostly gravel, but still. Pea Island, NWR, likewise has trails along the ponds for bird watchers.

Don't get me wrong. I have very much enjoyed visiting these places, and they do increase my willingness to support creating more refuges. I just think that the poor animals are not getting a lot of refuge. The birds would take off in large numbers any time anything spooked them, which was pretty frequently. Nice photos, energy wasted for the birds.

There is not a simple answer to this. Unfortunately, with the steadily increasing world population, there is going to be progressively more pressure on habitat in general and on opening the wild areas for human recreation as well. All around Chapel Hill, wooded areas and fields are being plowed for new housing, as NC's population is growing fast.

People also don't understand how much we have already lost. In "The Homing Instinct" by Bernd Heinrich (a great book), he describes the monarch butterfly migration "millions passing for hours, even in Boston" in the nineteenth century. I am lucky to see two at a time. In Duck, NC, the skies were so full of migrating ducks that commercial hunters came down and killed thousands every week during the season. Now, I am lucky to see a handful.

We adjust our idea of "normal" to what was present in our childhood, not what was present a hundred years ago, What will be left for our grandchildren, great grandchildren and down the road if we don't take care of what we have now?
I agree that this is an issue on the NWR's in the eastern part of the US. The western refuges are generally much larger and can leave large areas undisturbed and closed to human visitors.

I also agree that there is no easy answer. One of our favorite birding areas is Seney NWR in the upper peninsula of MI. Not a very large refuge. There are some areas that remain closed to human visitors during certain times of the year, but most of the refuge is roaded or trailed.

It's great that more and more people are beginning to appreciate the value of time spent outside in nature! At the same time, the increased interest is putting a lot of pressure on the wildlife and the natural areas. For instance, visitation in Yellowstone, where my daughter works, was way up this past summer. While it's great to see so many people learning about and enjoying the area, it puts tremendous pressure on the natural resources and the wildlife who make their homes in the park. Park officials are considering more development (lodging, etc) to handle the increased visitation. I don't want to see that happen. I'd rather limit the number of visitors - close the gates when the park is "Full", so to speak.

Sorry to ramble. This really is a great topic for discussion. How exactly DO we balance our need for nature exposure with the needs of the wildlife (and plants, etc) who LIVE in those areas?
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Old 12-21-2015, 06:05 PM   #14
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I hear they're making some pretty awesome virtual reality type games...
Perhaps that will be the wave of the future for getting the feel and view of the wild.
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Replicates an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:59 PM   #15
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I agree that they should close the gate when it is full...like a no vacancy sign at a hotel.

Quote:
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I agree that this is an issue on the NWR's in the eastern part of the US. The western refuges are generally much larger and can leave large areas undisturbed and closed to human visitors.

I also agree that there is no easy answer. One of our favorite birding areas is Seney NWR in the upper peninsula of MI. Not a very large refuge. There are some areas that remain closed to human visitors during certain times of the year, but most of the refuge is roaded or trailed.

It's great that more and more people are beginning to appreciate the value of time spent outside in nature! At the same time, the increased interest is putting a lot of pressure on the wildlife and the natural areas. For instance, visitation in Yellowstone, where my daughter works, was way up this past summer. While it's great to see so many people learning about and enjoying the area, it puts tremendous pressure on the natural resources and the wildlife who make their homes in the park. Park officials are considering more development (lodging, etc) to handle the increased visitation. I don't want to see that happen. I'd rather limit the number of visitors - close the gates when the park is "Full", so to speak.

Sorry to ramble. This really is a great topic for discussion. How exactly DO we balance our need for nature exposure with the needs of the wildlife (and plants, etc) who LIVE in those areas?
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Old 12-23-2015, 10:58 PM   #16
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I agree that expanding visitor facilities is a terrible idea. Yosemite is almost like a theme park, with the packed roads and trails. Very little wildlife lives there anymore, except the Bears that like Pic-i-nic baskets, overly used to people and their food stuffs. I would hate to see other parks go that way.

I always thought that the national and state parks were for people to visit, and the refuges were for wildlife, but th refuges are now under increased pressure to serve people, too. And lumber companies log our national forests, pushing more roads in, in addition to damage from cutting timber. Yes, I know thinning forests can be a good thing, but I am not convinced that most of these companies pay much attention to doing it the right way.
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Old 12-24-2015, 11:17 AM   #17
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What I really dislike in this area is that they allow farming in parks, preserves, and refuges. Our Audubon Society stopped the farming in two NWR's in the area. Parks should not be farmed but cleared of invasive species and planted with natives. I think it is great for people to visit parks and appreciate nature as long as the plants and wildlife are not disturbed.
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Old 12-27-2015, 02:01 PM   #18
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Alligator River and Lake Mattamuskeet are deliberately farmed, to provide winter forage for all of the water fowl that overwinter there. I do not know if any percentage of the crops are harvested for people as well.
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Old 12-27-2015, 02:03 PM   #19
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No easy answers. (And we will be visiting a county preserve on our way to see in-laws in Florida this weekend).

Rebek, I am heading to Florida in January. Do you have any personal recommendations of natural areas I should visit? I will be on Sanibel for a week, and know about the NWR there, and am going to stop at Big Talbot, and Kissimmee Prairie Preserve and Corkscrew Swamp, but it is a long drive and having interesting places to stop along the way would be cool.
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Old 12-27-2015, 07:36 PM   #20
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Turttle, I grew up on the west coast of Florida but haven't been there in decades. My husband's family lives on the Space Coast, where we have enjoyed the Brevard County parks.

A friend lives near the St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge (outside Tallahassee) and says it's gorgeous.
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