My View: News flash — we live in the mountains at Tahoe (opinion)
Not sure why we have to talk about this every year, but please use some common sense when you are enjoying our environment.
We live in a place that is wild. We have harsh terrain, wild animals and a lot of things that could kill you if you are not careful. So please, get off your phone and look up once in a while.
Sure, this place is a playground for all of us who call it home or are visiting. The region provides us all with an opportunity to get out into nature, to experience a bit of wildness. For many who live and work in the city, this is a foreign landscape, one that is almost alien from the concrete and tall buildings. It has different rules, different challenges and certainly different concerns. We get used to living in environments that are made by humans, for humans.
Here in Tahoe, and frankly in any mountain or country town, we live hand in hand with wildlife. Which are exactly that, wild animals. With the news this week of a bear being killed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife after getting into a cooler left in the back of an open Jeep, it is clear that it is time for a reminder that we share this beautiful landscape with more than just other people.
Bears live here. They always have, and hopefully they always will. They are not pets, and they are not a picnic basket carrying friendly cartoon character — they are powerful, and intelligent, animals.
There are very good reasons for making a choice to kill a problem, or nuisance, bear. When a wild animal comes to rely on humans for food they really do become a danger to people. Take a look at the history of our national parks and the challenges that places like Yellowstone have had over the decades with bears and other animals getting too comfortable around humans.
A big issue is that so many people are coming from urban areas. Places where you just don’t see wildlife, or have to give a thought to where to store your garbage so that you don’t have a furry guest barging into your car, tent or house. We have a culture that seems to believe that the wilderness is a place where you can take a couple good selfies. We forget that we really are at the mercy of our surroundings.
National parks, national forest and other public lands are all of ours. We are stewards of this land. It is our right to access, to use and to enjoy. It is also our obligation to conserve, and to protect, these lands and resources for the future.
As John Muir wrote back in 1912, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”
That statement holds true today. In fact it might be even more relevant in a world that is constantly connected. That is the wonder of nature — it gives us an escape from our daily grind. It gives us a window into a different time and place.
I can think of nothing more relaxing than being several miles out on a beautiful trail with not another human being for miles. That moment of being alone is a powerful thing. To be able to enjoy the beauty around you with your own eyes, rather than through a photo on a tiny screen, is a key to being grounded in your own existence.
Just don’t forget that we need to maintain that beauty for all of us. To make sure that the next person can have that moment as well.
The act of enjoying our wild lands should not destroy them. Tread lightly and don’t leave a trace. Once you change or damage something wild, it is changed forever. Once you feed that bear, if even by accident, you have caused harm. So pick up your trash, lock up your food and think about the impact that you can have on the environment around you.
It is great that you enjoy our playground — let’s see if we can help it survive for the next generation to enjoy as well.
Ben Rogers is the co-general manager and advertising director of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. He can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.