In honor of Smokey The Bears 75th Birthday, I want to chat about an article that I recently read that stuck with me. There’s an article written by a photographer on the amount of disrespect people were racking in the lavender fields of Provence to get that perfect Instagram selfie. Visitors were doing this with next to no acknowledgment for the destruction that they were causing to the farmer's fields, and virtually their lively hood.
The article brought to mind also warnings and chatter I had heard about the impending destruction of the super bloom of poppies in California and the bluebonnet super bloom in Texas.
If you have been following around here for a while, you know that I spend a pretty decent amount of time outside, hiking or camping in some secluded spots of the wilderness. The amount of human trace that I see in these spots is pretty incredible. From the green plastic straws, the broken glass of beer bottles, empty plastic water bottles, and fallen plastic wrappers. Each time I go for a hike, I bring a trash bag and remove almost always an entire bag full of other peoples trash.
I have to admit that sometimes I do hike or stop at a location for either current or future content creation. Therefore I am not lost, and fully aware of the irony of this discussion.
While I was visiting Banff, I started to think more about the conservancy aspect of using these pristine natural jewels as our backdrops in content, while maintaining their beauty for the next person. While enjoying the sunrise at Peyote lake with waist-deep snow, two young women hiked in with a few outfit changes in tow. They were asking us if we knew how to walk to the bottom and get next to the frozen lake because they couldn't find a trail on the map. We answered that we didn't since there wasn't a trail listed on the map, and again there was waist-deep snow the level of danger with that was apparent. They shrugged their shoulders at us and proceeded to trounce through the snow in efforts to get to the lakes shore. If you haven't been to Peyote Lake, the overlook is the famous place that every Instagrammer who goes to Banff has taken a photo from. This distance from this point to the lakeshore is at least a two-mile hike. We saw the women come through the trees into a clearing and they were hanging onto pine boughs for support in navigating the snow. It was at that point that they changed into their first outfit and began taking photos of each other. When they started walking and broke off a large pine bough, it was time for me to leave.
I have seen furniture being carried out to beautiful grassy wildflower-filled fields and set upon rare blooms of wildflowers. I have seen people stand at the edge of a cliff with their back to the drop off and their selfie stick out. I have seen people have a campfire for a photoshoot during a burn ban in a state forest because they didn't want to reschedule. I have witnessed people pulling over on the side of the road to "dance" in a private farmers field of sunflowers, proceed to pick them and drive off.
I am not writing this out of criticism, only to bring attention moving forward to the fact that beautiful locations in nature do present themselves as incredible backdrops for content photoshoots. But are also beautiful for people who could care less about leaving with a photo and only want to enjoy the views.
To maintain & conserve their natural appeal, consider these seven things:
Sticking to established trails.
Leave no trace that you were there.
Dispose of waste properly.
Leave what you find.
Be considerate of other visitors.
Asking permission ahead of time to access private land.
If it is a fee property, pay the fee.
By being careless, we are inevitably ruining beautiful landscapes by going "off-trail" and messing with the lively hood of farmers and their crops. Please be just be aware and respectful.