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April 30, 2020

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The problem with these urban-mindset multiuse trails is that they are actually one-lane roads and not trails. Unless they piggyback on places where the attendant physical damage and ecological disruption already exist, they become yet more instances of overdevelopment and do not serve to get people into contact with what is left of their natural surroundings. Most stretches of the California Coastal Trail planned and developed over the past 20 years are examples of a good original idea that has been hijacked to no good end.

Outdoor recreation has become one of the major causes of the increasing and unsustainable overall physical environmental damage we are wreaking on our world. Once considered a way to get folks out into their surroundings and become sensitive to the natural systems essential to all life, almost all forms of outdoor recreation have become, in the minds of many, an entitlement, a right. So now highly artificial outdoor recreation joins urban development and infrastructure, agriculture, over-exploitation of both renewable and non-renewable natural resources (including mining, grazing, logging, fishing, water development, and energy development), pollution, and other widespread, global activities in a smothering web of life-killing negative impacts. Misplaced, overdeveloped trails generated as feel-good projects by governments and organizations to mollify recreationists get no thanks from me.

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