Last week, a very sad act of vandalism took place in McIntyre Creek, when the restoration site was destroyed after someone pulled out all the willow stakes meant to promote regrowth, and prevent erosion of the bank.
The worst part about the destruction was that it appears to have been motivated by misinformation. Individuals believed they were being targeted, that the stakes were there to hurt them, and they retaliated. While this was simply untrue in this case, there is no denying that similar acts of vigilantism aren’t unheard of on the trails in the Yukon.
In my summers of adventuring I’ve encountered: broken glass under log rolls (presumably designed to puncture bike tires); spikes under ladders and jumps (to hurt a fly-by dirt jumper); cords and ropes strung across trees (to clothesline speeding motorists) and more.
I hope that this action is a lesson to us all, that it is time to work together. The large number of people who enjoy the Yukon’s great outdoors should be finding ways to come together to protect our wildlife against development, not fabricating civil wars against each other. The only way that we can do this is by showing respect and tolerance to other users and to the trails themselves.
So next time someone comes down the trail towards you, try a smile and a wave. Take the first step off the trail to let someone get by. Ask someone how their day is going. Pick up some garbage that someone dropped along the route. Move a hanging tree that could fall at any time.
Don’t destroy trails and if you do, find a way to fix them. Respect trail access rules, even when you don’t agree with them.
Show some tolerance for those who experience the outdoors in a different way. Assume the best of them, instead of the worst. Maybe the spikes are trees, planted to restore the creek. Maybe a tree was moved because someone thought it was a hazard. Maybe the dirt biker didn’t know he’d throw up so much dust.
There are jerks in this world. They are everywhere, not just on the trails. But, when someone’s rude to you at the Superstore, do you block the aisle to stop the next shopper? Do you ram the next person over with your cart? Of course not – so don’t do the same on a trail.
Multi-use means that we all have to compromise a little bit. If we can’t do that, we risk hurting people or destroying trails. And if that’s the plan, we might as well just pave it over now.
Sierra van der Meer