Here we are on the north end of Long Island. At first glance it’s about as far from New York scenery as we can get, but there are some similarities. Spruce skyscrapers tower above us and there is a traffic jam of sea otter milling around the best kelp restaurants. Sadly, there are also a few shadowed areas where muggings have occured. We’re talking ursine muggings here. The first task for our field expedition is to evaluate this site for human use & impact since this location is frequented by bear hunters. Clearly they have forgotten the prime wilderness tenant of “Leave No Trace” so our job is to clean up their mess. I’m not commenting about the practice of hunting for fun, it’s enough to say that wilderness is not a place to muggle up with the evidence of your passing. It seems that “leaving our mark” is a very difficult human characteristic to subdue. Unfortunately peeing on a tree just isn’t enough for many humans and thoughtless actions are a blight if not outright damaging to both the concept and reality of wilderness. It’s important that we evolve beyond the ego-centric need to mark our presence everywhere we go. It’s time to consider the higher value of maintaining the pristine quality of a wilderness in short supply. For wilderness to exist in the face of ever increasing humanity, we all need to embrace the LNT (Leave No Trace) mantra. That doesn’t mean we abandon our creative outlets, in fact it means we become more creative in how we share them. Go ahead, make a wilderness kitchen to use while you visit, but use what’s there and return it as you found it... the bears don’t need a kitchen and I can make my own.
Karisa planned our trip to take care of the less pleasant business first but I have to say that in comparison to what we see in WA wilderness areas, this was not so bad. I want to give a thankful shout out to ALL those hard working Forest Service & NPS personnel (and volunteers) who clean up after the human mess makers and for the rest of us.... remember that LNT and wilderness go hand in paw, flipper & wing!