October 11, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Conservationists Moan Lack of Hikers

When hiking and backpacking were popular in the 1970s, the number of environmentalists and conservationists rose accordingly.  Since then, many content themselves to watch TV and remain city-bound.  The internet exacerbated the problem.  Science Daily said, “a recent fall-off in strenuous outdoor endeavors portends a coming decline in the ranks of conservation backers.”
    They’re not talking about simple tourists.  The Nature Conservancy found that “only people who engage in vigorous outdoor sports, like hiking and backpacking, tend later to become supporters of mainline conservation groups, while those who only go sightseeing or fishing do not.”  Their survey, however, only focused on those who supported the liberal environmental activist groups.
    Oliver Pergams (U of Illinois) predicted “tough times ahead” for conservation.  “If you never get out into nature, you’re not going to care about it when you get older,” Pergams said.  “The kids are where it’s at, and we’re losing our kids to other influences — they don’t go outside.”  See also 02/04/2008.

CEH is a strong supporter of outdoor strenuous activity as advocated by our sister ministry Creation Safaris, and of conservation ethics – which does not equate with “environmentalism” as interpreted by liberals.  Conservatives and Christians should be among the greatest conservationists because they believe in a good Creator.  The Creator is the owner and master of the world.  We are mere stewards.
    One thing these researchers could do is get the Forest Service and National Park Service to loosen up the tight restrictions on getting into the wilderness.  It’s scandalous how difficult it is to get wilderness permits these days.  Stringent quotas are inflicted, party sizes are limited, and those who want to go often have to apply way in advance, fill out forms, pay fees, play the lottery and go through red tape – just for the privilege of enjoying nature.  Then they get out on the trail only to find vast stretches of wilderness with hardly anyone else around.  Government officials need to understand that they don’t own the earth.  Sensible regulation is fine, but not taxing the citizens for something that belongs to them.
    With these hassles, no wonder more people would rather stay home.  Park fees have risen dramatically since the 1970s (from $5 to $20 and higher).  Campground fees are also comparable to what motel fees used to be.  It’s environmental-activist groups that are often behind efforts to close the wilderness.  They view human presence as some kind of disease.  This is self-refuting on two levels; it denies humans are part of nature, and backfires on the environmental movement, like this article said.
    Christian/creationist doctrine has the answer.  Rather than seeing nature as an evolved thing, with no purpose or reason, let’s teach people that nature is a fantastically-complex, interwoven system that was created for a purpose.  Human beings are part of that purpose.  We should stand in awe of the Creator and respect the work of his hands.  He made it for us to use and enjoy and protect.  The Judeo-Christian world view contains the seed of a sustainable conservation ethic.  It doesn’t shoot itself in the foot like the liberal environmental movement must do if it tries to be logically consistent.
    If you would like some inspiration to see what hiking and backpacking can do for your soul, here is a photo gallery to reveal just a taste of what is out there, waiting to be appreciated.  These photos were all taken in one 6-day Creation Safari.  Who could look at beauty like this and want to leave trash or damage any of it?  You can click on any picture for a description; use the back arrow to return.  Click the link for a two-minute escape to reality.

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