October 10, 1992
Ian Church, Superintendent
Yoho National Park
Field, British Columbia V0A 1G0
Re: Your great newsletter, "Highline" and the management of Yoho
I camped at Kicking Horse on September 21, hiked south across the highway toward the glacier, found mountain goat tracks and
several different types of scat, and visited the Burgess Shale World Heritage monument and your visitor's center in Field. It was all a peak experience for me! I especially appreciated the wonderful videos about the discovery and significance of the Burgess Shale. I really enjoyed meeting my ancestors!
After I got home, I read your (Summer 1992) newsletter and found it extremely interesting, informative, and a great advertisement for Yoho and the work you do. It gave me great respect for what you are doing. I especially enjoyed the articles on the (you guessed it) Burgess Shale, "Turning Roads into Trails" (bravo!), and "Wildlife Memorial Week". What a wonderful idea! I have always thought it very significant and tragic that wildlife are killed on our roads, but to dedicate a week to marking and memorializing the victims of our Automobile Religion is brilliant! I think we should build, for each road kill (human or animal), a marker containing a description of the accident and its victims. Then people driving by may be moved to drive differently, or not at all.
Man has generally assumed that every square inch (centimeter) of the Earth belongs to mankind. Consequently, we have pushed, and continue to push, thousands of species over the brink to extinction. The parks should function as the seeds of a network of continuous wildlife corridors crisscrossing the continent from ocean to ocean (north-south and east-west), as much as possible off-limits to humans! (Roads and other human artifacts that need to cross wildlife corridors should tunnel underneath, so as not to intimidate wildlife.) What better place to learn about the environment and biological morality, than in the parks? We should remove all but the most essential human facilities (toilets, water, and educational facilities) from the parks, before we destroy everything that makes them attractive.
There are far too many roads, parking lots, and commercial facilities in the parks. The "snowmobile" tours of Athabasca Glacier are disgusting, and should be stopped immediately. Should we also have motorcycle tours of the Sistine Chapel? The golf courses and "Chalets" should be removed. If people want the amenities of the city, let them go to the city, and not turn our precious wilderness into cities!
If people can't learn environmental ethics in the parks, where are they going to learn it? The parks could do a great and important service by helping to accelerate and usher in the end of the Automobile Age. Please begin to make it inconvenient and expensive to bring cars and their relatives to the parks, and conversely, more convenient and cheaper to come by public transit or other clean mode of transportation! And put an end to the destructive custom of the campfire, to pets in the parks, and to grazing on all public lands!
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.