Is Nothing Sacred and No Bureaucrat Reasonable? A Colorado Gem is Vandalized; Rangers Threaten to Shut Down The Lake.
A one-two punch against nature lovers came out of Western Colorado this week as news reported that vandals defaced trees and rocks with spray paint on the beautiful trail leading to Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, and US Forest Service Officials responded by considering closing the trail until June. This amounts to tragedy topped by absurdity.
Hanging Lake is one of the jewels of Colorado’s mountains. An emerald pool perched in a limited flat hugging the steep Glenwood Canyon walls, it is accessible only after a very steep and challenging mile and a half hike on a trail that in some places is cut into the canyon wall. It draws thousands of enchanted hikers every year, some fit and seasoned and some barely able to struggle up to the magical little place. Somewhere along the trail and near the lake, a little pond, really, cretin destroyers spray painted their chosen messages on various rocks and trees. There will be, and needs to be, a prompt effort at cleaning and restoration.
It is depressing to think about the atomized world we live in where punks tarnish beauty with meaningless phrases to intrude on the enjoyment of all who follow. But, it is also troubling to think about the response of public land managers. Aaron Mayville, the area District Ranger promised to work with local law enforcement to find and prosecute the criminals who did this. That is certainly appropriate. But, the Forest Service is also making noises about closing the trail until peak summer season when additional Ranger patrols will be on staff to guard against further vandalism.
That would be outrageous. “Then the terrorists will win” would be one way to describe the bad thinking behind that idea. It is impossible to protect the great outdoors against bad acts by stupid people. Excluding the masses of nature loving visitors who want to see one of the really beautiful places around is not a reasoned response to the malice of a few. It is unfortunate and maddening that the experience of visitors will be marred until the cleanup up is done. But locking them out is collective punishment that bears no relation to the real goal of finding and punishing the miscreants who caused the problem.
It can be hoped that this is merely huffing an puffing by a public steward who loves the acres he administers, and is pained to see them desecrated. That would be reasonable and understandable. Throwing up a “Keep Out” fence would not.