That great sage, Edward Abbey, once coined a latin name that aptly applies to far too many of us — slobivius americanus. Astute observer that he was, he nailed it in his own inimitable way.
Public lands are a great treasure. BLM lands, national forests, national parks, wilderness — these are great gifts set aside for all of us, now living and those yet to come, by those who went before. They are for us to enjoy, cherish, protect, respect, and to pass on relatively unaltered to future generations. Apparently not all of us are capable of that.
Let’s take a short walk here on a strip of BLM land between Joshua Tree National Park and the I-10 corridor in the low desert. We won’t need to walk far. Here’s a pile of scrap lumber somebody dumped. Scattered about are enough rusty bolts, hinges, nails and other hardware to build a small house. Even a hammer.
Here’s a broken trailer hitch. A blown out sneaker. A pair of pants. A shirt. A jacket. Over here is some old drywall. A pile of old tarpaper. Some asphalt shingles. Another pile of shingles. Paint cans. Spent shotgun shells and handgun casings. Boots. Underwear. Plastic bags.
That’s small stuff though. Over here is an old couch and broken-legged table. A discarded TV. A chest freezer. And scattered among it all, everywhere, more rusty cans and broken bottles than you could count in a lifetime. There are dirty diapers and… well, you get the idea. All this within about a ten or fifteen minute walk of camp.
Now I’ll cheerfully grant that slobivius americanus may be a small sub-specie of homo sapiens, but he sure can cut a wide trail.