August 11, 2020
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A Thorny Problem

Published July 01, 2020

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I’m adding my voice to that of the Guilford Land Conservation Trust and Conservation Commission about the increased pressure on Guilford’s recreational lands [ June 18 letter “The Damage Continues” by David Grigsby and Laura Collins]. As a Guilford native, I’ve stayed fit and happy by using the local trails over the past 50-plus years. It’s a privilege to have a hiking area located within walking distance of my neighborhood, so I make it my business to help with the trail upkeep. When I notice someone else is helping, I’m delighted. When I see evidence of carelessness or flaunting of the rules, I bristle.

Since the state shutdown, trailhead parking areas all around town have overflowed daily. That’s a lot of new impact for fragile resources to absorb. It is a horror to see soil torn by dirt bikes or to hear quads speeding through the forest, but damage is also done by people on foot. When even a few new visitors fail to regulate their own behavior, significant degradation results.

It’s a thorny problem, but also an opportunity to educate the new visitor: At very least, do no harm. Don’t make others pick up after you. Keep your dog under control. Stay on the path, don’t shortcut or widen it. Spread the impact by using a less popular trail—last I counted, Guiford had around 100 miles of them. Report misbehavior. Learn something about the area and its natural inhabitants.

May we see more on the topic of Guilford’s open spaces and trail systems? The land stewardship groups (including the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, responsible for our Blue-Blazed trails) could use the Courier’s coverage now more than ever to publicize their accomplishments and the problems they face.

Willam Johnson