Fri, May 23, 2008:

Re: _Last Child in the Woods_
Dear Mike Vandeman,
Wow, thank you for your thoughts.

I have read "Last Child in the Woods" yet. I bought it, but I have not yet read it.

I really appreciate your thoughts. I too think that nature needs us to stay away. Treading lightly and not harming nature is of course important.

I often see young children damaging nature. When my oldest was six, at a Little League picnic, children unsupervised (young too) were off tearing branches off a pine tree on the school grounds. They then were peeling bark and whacking the tree with the torn off branches. None of the other parents cared. I tried to get them to stop but none cared to follow what an authority figure said.

Last year in Cub Scout Day Camp the them was detectives and clues (Cub Scout Detectives). Each got a little magnifying glass to look for insects with. Well, in each Den there were multiple boys using them to burn live insects with. I thought it was just my group and was working in my group to put a stop to it. Yet they had to do camp-wide announcements, multiple times to try to get the kids to stop.

I also gave a lecture to all my Den because there was a dragonfly that one kid caught and pulled a wing off. In a small group they proceeded to pull all the wings off and one of the legs was broken. It was still alive. I tried to talk some empathy into them and talk about not hurting the creatures. One begged me to kill it and to put it out of its misery. We debated this. I decided to let it sit there on a rock and maybe a bird would eat it if it found it alive. Two kids thought I was cruel for that. I was angry at the ones who tortured the thing in the first place.

It is true not all interaction with nature by children in groups or unsupervised leads to good things. It seems too that some kids think nature is there JUST to exploit and destroy for what they consider to be fun.

Lastly I used to mountain bike in the woods when it first came out in the 1980s. What I liked about being in nature with the bike was not about nature appreciation which I got from other endeavors. I liked just being off of the road and not in contact with cars and bad drivers, not being with rush hour commuters and so on. I enjoyed breathing woods air, fresh, not car exhaust. However you do concentrate so much on handling the bike and staying safe that you can't just enjoy nature such as when on an easy hike. When whizzing down a hill or puffing to go up a steep rocky hill you can't notice details in a wildflower's blossom or spot creatures or even look around much--your eyes have to stay on the trail and on the bikers around you too.

A new book "I love dirt! 52 activities to help you & your kids discover the wonders of nature" by Jennifer Ward provides 52 outdoor experiences for parents or grandparents to do alongside their young children, with direct supervision, as a way to spend time together. There are ideas here to help parents who feel they need more ideas or information in order to go out and explore nature with children. These ideas don't harm nature.


Sat, 13 Dec 2008:

Thank you ever so much for your most in-depth analysis of this subject.  I am a trail builder and maintainer in both Calif. and Idaho.  I am an avid hiker and mt. biker and freely admit the oh-so obvious impact of mt. biking over hiking.  I will share this with some Calif. state park employees as well as Idaho dept. of BLM.  God bless for your courage to separate the bull from its horns.


Fri, 12 Dec 2008:

Subject: Re: The Impacts of Mountain Biking on Wildlife and People -- A Review of the Literature

Mike - I don't know you personally but I thank you so much for this information.  Have you seen the article in the recent Marin Independent Journal about the blind mountain biker?   Here's a quote from the article:

"In a recent trip up Mt. Tam, I took him all the way down Railroad Grade at Mach speed, even managing to avoid a lady with four dogs on leashes sprawled across the trail, navigating him through Mill Valley traffic."

Here's the link to the article.

This article certainly backs up your very thorough research. If there were some way to couple this article with your research and forward it to the park personnel who make decisions as to trail use, I think it would be very beneficial to those who want to stay safe on foot & hoof.

Again, we most appreciate your contribution to our safety.


Mon, 24 Nov 2008:
Subject: Re: Priorities

I have always agreed with you and admired this for the New Year...


Thu, 23 Oct 2008:
Subject: Re: Sanborn Trails Master Plan Mitigated Negative Declaration

Hi Mike,


You are just so right! I can't tell you how much I admire you, but I think you are a lot like me ... a Don Quixote who battling against windmills. Damn these park managers who do not seem to have a clue about how to manage the land that is entrusted to them.


Keep up the good work!


Thu, 2 Oct 2008:
Subject: Re: Mountain Biking

Good for you, Mike!


Thu, 2 Oct 2008:

Subject: Re: "Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day" 10/4

Hi Mike,


I think these are the best, most succinct arguments I have yet heard on the subject. The level of your expertise is wonderful to behold.


Keep up the good work.


Mon, 29 Sep 2008:

Subject: RE: Living Beyond Our Means

Amen! We reward the evildoers for being evil by bailing them out this way.


Wed, 24 Sep 2008:

Subject: Re: Offshore Drilling

Very true

Everything you said


In a message dated 9/24/2008 12:26:04 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

To the Editor:

Children are alleged not to be able to think ahead, but adults don't
have that excuse. Isn't it obvious that after we exhaust our oil
supply, we will be at the mercy of countries like Russia, Iran, and
Iraq, that still have plenty of oil? Why do you think we have a
"Strategic Oil Reserve"? We need to stop using oil!

Also obvious is the fact that the more oil we burn, the worse the
climate will get, leading to more hurricanes, sea level rise, loss of
food supplies (all of our foods are adapted to today's climate), and
loss of wildlife (upon which everything we need depends).

Offshore drilling threatens our food supply, won't lower gas prices,
and will (as we quickly exhaust our supply) in the long run make us
MORE dependent on foreign oil!

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

Tue, 9 Sep 2008:
Subject: Re: ANOTHER Mountain Biker Turned into a Quadriplegic!

Hi Mike,


I especially enjoy your letters on the dangers of mountain biking. It is depressing and extremely sad to read about such mishaps and accidents, but that is surely one way of getting through to them. It sure does get through to me, but then I never did anything dangerous in my life. I was a Hospital Corpsman when I was in the Navy and I saw over and over what can happen from one moment of stupidity.


Keep up the good work!


Sat, 23 Aug 2008:
Subject: Thanks Again Mike

Simply Brilliant Mike,


What an Excellent study and suggested results. This, for me, is 

one of the very best suggestions I have ever heard. I do realize that 

locking up an area and denying human access would be preferable in a 

number of places through out the US and the World. But............I 

have been very pessimistic about pulling off something like that. It 

seems to me that Humans just will never see this way to be the right 

way. Even though it is. The study and suggestions you have sent me 

are simple, plain truths, with a very nice recommendation to an 

alternative that I think even the most inane Human can except. 

Well..............almost every inane human except Mountain 

Bikers. : )  Who we all know have a RIGHT to do and go everywhere 

with their inanimate objects.

  The suggestion that a core Wilderness be set in place, with access 

to humans being controlled to selected outside ares of that core, 

seems to me to be something Doable. Something that I believe most 

humans would except, when confronted with the findings of this recent 

research from the Dept. of the Environment.

I would hope that further studies would do more verification on these 

findings and further the credibility of these facts and then the 

possible suggestions there after.

  In Michigan, we are trying to sell off our State Lands in one form 

or another. If not with direct sales of the land, then with the NEW 

way of doing things: "Eco-tourism". I have come to hate this word. 

But it is what we are doing here. If this process could at least be 

controlled by the findings of this Study, there may actually be some 

hope for our State lands here, that once where a Gem of Biodiversity 

and varied life.

  As always Mike, Thanks for all your hard work at keeping all of us 

informed on so many issues concerning our Natural environments. I 

have said it before and will say it again. You are wonderful Role 

model and a kind of Human that this planet needs to show our children 

and maybe a few of the inane adults, what needs to start happening in 

our Natural places and everywhere in our World.

Thanks Mike


Mon, 18 Aug 2008:
Subject: Re: CORRECTION -- Cold Fusion and the Destruction of Life on the Earth

Very Good!


Mon, 11 Aug 2008:

Subject: Re: The Final Drought -- Cold Fusion and the Destruction of Life on the Earth



The current percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere is just below 21 percent. It apparently has been as high as 30 percent in the geologic past. So I would not think combustion of the forests is an immediate concern. Global warming is a far greater concern.


Nonetheless, your post is pretty right on.


Mon, 11 Aug 2008:

Subject: Re: The Final Drought -- Cold Fusion and the Destruction of Life on the Earth

Thanks, Mike, for this thoughtful essay.  While I'm not a scientist, I'm also not convinced that R. Godes will indeed be able to create energy with this new source.  Nonetheless, your points are important ones that need further airing -- you are actually shouting out the Precautionary Principle, of course, which states that we shouldn't adopt new technology until we can prove that it's safe.  And of course, I agree entirely with your point about profit, greed and grief!


Mon, 11 Aug 2008:

Subject: Re: The Final Drought -- Cold Fusion and the Destruction of Life on the Earth

Very good; this has to be one of your strongest pitches for wildlife.


Mon, 11 Aug 2008:

Subject: Re: The Final Drought -- Cold Fusion and the Destruction of Life on the Earth
Hi Mike,


I like your article.  I would like to publish it.


Mon, 11 Aug 2008:

Subject: Re: The Final Drought -- Cold Fusion and the Destruction of Life on the Earth

Dear Mike -

    You are right on target re. the corporatization of all things, including our air and water, the most basics of life.  We now live in a world where these most basic things are being grabbed up for the private enrichment of the few to the detriment of the many.  This is WRONG and we must work to reverse it.



Mon, 11 Aug 2008:

Subject: Re: The Final Drought -- Cold Fusion and the Destruction of Life  on the Earth

Several good points, thanks.


Tue, 5 Aug 2008:

Subject: Re: Nomination of Michael J. Vandeman to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame

Mike, you are the Jonathan Swift of emails!! Well done!


Thu, 31 Jul 2008:

ok - thanks Mike :)  You are a wealth of info!


Thu, 24 Jul 2008:

Subject: Re: golf tournament

Mike, you are as interesting as always!  I'm so glad to hear you are still "fighting the good fight," and so happy some one out there is watching out of us and this good ol' earth we live on.


Good to hear from you


Sat, 14 Jun 2008:
Subject: Re: Gatorade's Support of Mountain Biking

I continue to salute your stamina and quality thinking. You do the work of hundreds. Wish you further stamina and good health.


Thu, 27 Mar 2008:
Subject: Thanks Mike!

Thanks again Mike,

  I hope that I can be of some service to you, as time moves forward. Your 4 listed points, although appearing to be basic and simple, spell it all out, short and sweet. We are having some severe problems along the Mountain Biking lines here in S.E. Michigan, as I have told you in previous emails. Not only mountain bikes, but very poor Stewardship from the state's DNR service. Many of our wonderful natural areas are being turned into amusement parks. We have what is called a Metro Park service here, that leans very heavy on Recreational Use Nature areas. I know that sounds odd, but they develop  Parks that are gauged for Biking, Outdoor Racing, Powerboat Racing, and all the abuses of nature. Although pitiful in themselves, they are usually lands near Power-line corridors, and once heavily abused gravel-pit and mining operations. This has for many years been the pay=off for having State Parks and Lands that are real Nature areas. For a long time, this was the scale here. Metro Parks for the Nature amusement ride, and our State Parks and lands for Natural Resources and Stewardship. This has changed dramatically here, due to the financial situation in this state. There is a battle going on in almost every State Park, over User Groups rights. The biggest group to be taking advantage of these financial Woos, are of course the Mountain Bikers. Your emails have been very useful for a small group of us that are constantly battling this Lobbied, and well financed mountain biking organization, the MMBA.

I guess I wrote all of this, just to say Thank You for the inadvertent help, and the personal enthusiasm you give me with the fights you lead, and the quality of life you wish to produce on this planet. Good role models are hard to find anymore. Know that You are making a difference, in one form or another.

Please keep it up,



Tue, 18 Mar 2008:

Hi Mike,

You are a great archive and resource for all of us struggling against the wheeled locust.

Sun, 16 Mar 2008:
Subject: RE: Last Child in the Woods ญญ Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Hi Mike,

Thanks so much for you thoughtful response. There are some excellent points here and certainly a great deal more to think about.


Thu, 24 Jan 2008:
Subject: I applaud your conservation efforts

Hi Mike,


I just read your posting on Open Forum...and I applaud your passionate concern for improving the protection of wildlife.


On the last line of your posting there is a sentence that says not to place a cell phone next to any part of your body you care about!!! I wear mine on my belt on my right side. It's turned on all day...although I hardly ever make or receive a call. Could that harm me in any way--even when it's not transmitting?? If so, what kind of harm do I risk?? (I"m past the fathering stage of my life so it won't hurt that!)


Thanks and keep up the good work...and be safe on your bike.


Tue, 15 Jan 2008:
Subject: Re: "The state parks belong to the PEOPLE"



I agree 100%.  The human footprint needs to be reduced for the benefit of wildlife.


In a message dated 15/01/2008 03:40:40 GMT Standard Time, writes:

Parks, and all such habitat, belong to the wildlife. THEY HAVE NOWHERE ELSE TO GO! Humans have plenty of other places to recreate, and plenty of other places to connect with nature. Temporarily closing some parks is a reasonable way to save money, and is very beneficial to the wildlife.



Mon, 14 Jan 2008:

Subject: Re: Mountain bikers complain about proposed Wilderness

Hi Mike,


Happy New Year to you!  So glad you are keeping up the fight and keeping so many of us informed.  As to this latest article you circulated about Durango, I found the blurb that followed it equally disturbing.  How tragic that a young mountain lion had to be killed just because it had taken up winter refuge under a house.  Too bad no one was enlightened enough to humanely tranquilize it and move it to a wilderness area.  So sad...


Mon, 14 Jan 2008:

Subject: RE: Mountain bikers complain about proposed Wilderness


        Just an aside.  I think all your work is slowly, but surely,

making a difference.  For the first time, in one of the many watershed

groups' meeting(s) I recently attended, one where we never ever discuss

anything that might be "controversial," there were a number of people

who brought up damage done by mountain bikers.  Of course, a biker tried

to deny/point the finger elsewhere, but the dye was cast.

        If we can succeed in having them relegated to paved trails, or

anything close to that in our lifetimes, it will be due to your efforts.

I/We thank you.  (We're in the middle of a CEQA lawsuit and a

referendum--our opposition is a casino tribe, dev partnership (one of

which is on the Forbes 400 list), and the solidly bought-and-paid-for

Rocklin City Council). 

        Thanks!  Take care and carry on!