Ending La Luz run safeguards wilderness

kevinproescholdt 02 18 13 201by Kevin Proescholdt

 

The recent decision by Forest Service District Ranger Crystal Powell to deny the permit to run the La Luz Trail Run race through the Sandia Mountain Wilderness may be understandably unpopular with some runners and race organizers (“La Luz race hits end of trail as Forest Service denies permit,” Albuquerque Journal, May 15). But this decision is the proper one to protect the wilderness character of this iconic area.

Wilderness is the most protective land designation in the United States. My organization, Wilderness Watch, works to safeguard Wildernesses around the country. We often challenge Forest Service decisions and occasionally take the agency to court when it violates the 1964 Wilderness Act. But in the case of the La Luz race permit, the Forest Service has made the right decision in accordance with the Wilderness Act and agency policies, and there are good reasons for runners and others to support this decision.

Wildernesses contain a huge array of values, many of them intangible like protecting opportunities for solitude, and some of them more tangible like protecting wildlife and increasingly scarce habitat. These values go far deeper than physical impacts to trails or whether litter is left behind. Wildernesses are emblematic of our human recognition of their inherent wildness, and symbolic of our society’s need for restraint and humility in dealing with them. By designating an area as wilderness, we recognize that area’s right to function on its own, without the active management and manipulation used on other federal lands and without the types of intensive intrusions prominent there.

Commercial activities and competitive races degrade a wilderness’s wild character. They detract from an area’s wildness and make an area more like the lands overrun by civilization, rather than “in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape,” as the Wilderness Act states. That’s why the framers of the Wilderness Act and Congress included a prohibition on commercial activities in designated wildernesses, with only a very narrow exception for some outfitting and guiding activities. The Forest Service’s wilderness regulations also contain prohibitions on commercial activities and competitive events.

I sympathize with organizers of the trail run, particularly when the race has occurred since before Congress designated the Sandia Mountain Wilderness. But all across the country are examples of activities once allowed in areas that have needed to end after an area was designated as wilderness, all to better protect the wild character of these special lands for future generations and for wildlife, which are continually squeezed into smaller and smaller pockets of secure habitat. In Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), for example, the 1978 BWCAW Act ended many activities, including a competitive international canoe race, to better protect the area.

Other options likely exist for the race. A few years back, the organizers of a winter sled dog race wanted to route its race through a portion of the BWCAW. The Forest Service appropriately rejected that proposed route, and the race organizers eventually selected a different route. That outcome­—finding another venue or route outside of designated wilderness—may also well work for La Luz Trail Run, a far better outcome than weakening protections for the Sandia Mountain Wilderness.

 

Editor's note: Kevin's piece ran in the Albuquerque Journal on 5/31: https://www.abqjournal.com/2395565/ending-la-lu-zrun-safeguards-wilderness-2.html
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kevin proescholdt

Kevin Proescholdt is the conservation director for Wilderness Watch, a national wilderness conservation organization headquartered in Missoula and focused on the protection of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

 

Lost in the Winds
The Boundary Waters
 

Comments 217

Guest - William Conklin on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:32

I totally agree with Ranger Powell. Too many special wilderness places are being ruined by people posting them on Google and then the flood of people rush in. To help keep wilderness wild, quite posting it on Facebook etc!

I totally agree with Ranger Powell. Too many special wilderness places are being ruined by people posting them on Google and then the flood of people rush in. To help keep wilderness wild, quite posting it on Facebook etc!
Guest - Margaret Guilfoy Tyler on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:30

The wilderness needs to be kept wild. The Forest Service made the right decision. Too many natural landscapes have been ravaged and ruined by human activities.

The wilderness needs to be kept wild. The Forest Service made the right decision. Too many natural landscapes have been ravaged and ruined by human activities.
Guest - Gloria J Howard on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:30


THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR REMAINING OPEN LAND SHOULD BE ILLEGAL! STOP SELLING OFF OUR COUNTRY!!!

THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR REMAINING OPEN LAND SHOULD BE ILLEGAL! STOP SELLING OFF OUR COUNTRY!!!
Guest - Moraima Suarez on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:29

Thank you so very much for protecting this beautiful land. They are our priority now and in the future. Keep it wild and beautiful and full of life!

Thank you so very much for protecting this beautiful land. They are our priority now and in the future. Keep it wild and beautiful and full of life!
Guest - Alan on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:28



Wildernesses have to protected and repetitive use minimized to preserve these precious spaces.

Wildernesses have to protected and repetitive use minimized to preserve these precious spaces.
Guest - Jennifer Valentine on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:28

NO TO THE RACE - SAVE MOTHER NATURE & ALL OF THE INNOCENT ANIMALS

NO TO THE RACE - SAVE MOTHER NATURE & ALL OF THE INNOCENT ANIMALS
Guest - paul potts (website) on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:28

Thank you so much for not having the race!!
I agree in not having races in wilderness areas. Other life forms need a place to exist, there are plenty of other areas where races can be had. Thank you for letting wildernesses be!!!

Thank you so much for not having the race!! I agree in not having races in wilderness areas. Other life forms need a place to exist, there are plenty of other areas where races can be had. Thank you for letting wildernesses be!!!
Guest - mark knowles (website) on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:25

Really feel sad about not being able to have "La Luz Run" and the sled race but but BUT the preservation of a non-human interactive WILD-erness is something WE all need to still allow to be for peace to wildlife...thank you and peace (:+D)
need to

[b][i]Really feel sad about not being able to have "La Luz Run" and the sled race but but BUT the preservation of a non-human interactive WILD-erness is something WE all need to still allow to be for peace to wildlife...thank you and peace (:+D) need to [/i][/b]
Guest - Margery Gray on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:24

NO TO THE RACE - SAVE MOTHER NATURE & ALL OF HER CRITTERS!!!!

NO TO THE RACE - SAVE MOTHER NATURE & ALL OF HER CRITTERS!!!!
Guest - Rebecca Bralek on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:24

Thank you! There must be wilderness set aside for wilderness and quiet solitude. There are many public lands that are available for uses such as running races and biking.

Thank you! There must be wilderness set aside for wilderness and quiet solitude. There are many public lands that are available for uses such as running races and biking.
Guest - Anne Henry on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:21

Please no racing on the La Luz.

Please no racing on the La Luz.
Guest - Charlene on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:18

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You For Standing Up For Wilderness...
We Will All Breathe Better Because Of Your Stewardship...
.....namaste'....

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You For Standing Up For Wilderness... We Will All Breathe Better Because Of Your Stewardship... .....namaste'....
Guest - Julie Lickteig on Wednesday, 30 June 2021 07:34

I couldn’t find another way to comment and Charlene said similar to what I wanted to say. This article is amazingly well said. Thank you guys so very much for all your hard work in protecting these wild places for all our future generations to come!

I couldn’t find another way to comment and Charlene said similar to what I wanted to say. This article is amazingly well said. Thank you guys so very much for all your hard work in protecting these wild places for all our future generations to come!
Guest - Sherry on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:17

I agree with this decision. Wildlife need to have someplace where they can live their lives and not be constantly interrupted by people!

I agree with this decision. Wildlife need to have someplace where they can live their lives and not be constantly interrupted by people!
Guest - Dalia on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:17

Having a race in a wilderness area shows a lack of respect for nature and wildlife and denigrates the wilderness area. The race should be held elsewhere.

Having a race in a wilderness area shows a lack of respect for nature and wildlife and denigrates the wilderness area. The race should be held elsewhere.
Guest - patrick percy on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:17

As I approach my 84 year , I have become more and more concerned about the abuse of our wilderness areas . If I was king , I would only allow access to our national parks by foot , horse or mule . Too many people visiting our wilderness areas and do not seem to understand or care about the well fare of wildlife, and the park rangers are overwhelmed by the immence crowds piling into our parks. Any thing that reduces access tickles me to death.

As I approach my 84 year , I have become more and more concerned about the abuse of our wilderness areas . If I was king , I would only allow access to our national parks by foot , horse or mule . Too many people visiting our wilderness areas and do not seem to understand or care about the well fare of wildlife, and the park rangers are overwhelmed by the immence crowds piling into our parks. Any thing that reduces access tickles me to death.
Guest - Jimmie Lunsford on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:12

YES!!! Thank you for protecting for many over the few!!!

YES!!! Thank you for protecting for many over the few!!!
Guest - Silvia J on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:12

Thank you so much for not having the race!!
I agree in not having races in wilderness areas. Other life forms need a place to exist, there are plenty of other areas where races can be had. Thank you for letting wildernesses be!!!

Thank you so much for not having the race!! I agree in not having races in wilderness areas. Other life forms need a place to exist, there are plenty of other areas where races can be had. Thank you for letting wildernesses be!!!
Guest - Teresa Phillips on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:08

Our wildlife and our wild places are already stressed. We do not need to draw more people into these areas to cause further damage. Please reconsider holding a race in this environment.

Our wildlife and our wild places are already stressed. We do not need to draw more people into these areas to cause further damage. Please reconsider holding a race in this environment.
Guest - Judy Scriptunas on Tuesday, 29 June 2021 17:08

Right decision. This wilderness should be protected.

Right decision. This wilderness should be protected.
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Tuesday, 27 July 2021

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