Should permits be required for heavily trafficked destination trails to manage overcrowding and protection of the environments they pass through?
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As much as I hate to say yes, cause I like to plan last minute trips...I don't see any other solution...
Would love to hear other people recommendations on how to fix the problem if they have ideas!
Ultimatley, whatever is best for the ecosystem- and that means crowds need to be managed… but would be best if there is a certain number of slots available for last minute hikers …
I think it is a great idea to permit trails that are heavily trafficked! We need to be looking out for the environment and also spreading awareness that we want to preserve nature as much as possible!
It can be a difficult pill to swallow when we do not get to spend time outdoors in an area that we so deeply want to be immersed in because we did not secure a permit. With that said, I think we should look at the larger picture. We need to realize that our love for these awesome areas and desire to be in them means they should be protected. If that means that a permit system should be in place to manage crowds and experiences, then that is not a bad thing. When it is my time to be there, I would hope that the area is able to be enjoyed due to managed crowds and protected environments.
Now, how you handle the permit system to ensure equal and fair access is a whole different conversation.
Ditto to what @Josh_Sheets and @cocono said above. I think a few last minute walk-up spots should be available, depending on what the overall limit is for a given area. A few places have geo-fenced day before lottery options that I think is a good way to go about it.
I understand the downsides to permits, like needing to plan in advance without knowing the conditions, but I value knowing that I'll be able to get a wilderness experience, with fewer people, and fewer signs of humans interacting with the landscape. Permits help make that happen.
Another nice thing about permits is it allows the land managers to get more information on how the area is being used. They can use that information to advocate for more funding for restoration / rehabilitation projects, expanded facilities, or other area needs. They can also use your contact information to get information back to you. My friends and I once got sick right after a trip, and blamed it on the restaurant where we ate on the way home. A few weeks later, I got an email informing me that multiple people had gotten sick in the area where we were due to contaminated water. It also had survey asking us for additional information about our health and sanitation practices.
TLDR - Permits can be annoying, but are overall useful.