Point Reyes oysters are as famed an institution as the verdant peninsula’s happy cows and incongruous elk, but the succulent bivalves might soon become a thing of legend, at least as far as human palates are concerned. The question is raised: are National Parks meant to prevent the imprint of humans on choice bits of nature or is the goal one of harmonious interaction? The debate, of course, is nothing new; , there has been a sharp divide between the conservationists and the preservationists – those that would see nature safeguarded and efficiently used and those that would see it entirely free from the print of humanity – since the first federal act safeguarded a small patch of wilderness.
These are the issues which pit the spiritual mountain girl against the foodie within me. But, in the end, I think I come down the side of the conservationists – Teddy, I’m with ya. Perhaps this is purely species-ist of me; I might just be siding with my kind. But, if I’m honest, it’s because the places that I find truly beautiful are those that are impossible to use for any sane human purpose. The top of Mt. Dana isn’t suitable for human industry, neither is the plain of jumbo rocks in the heart of Joshua Tree. In the end, if conservation was the universal watchword and sustainable methods of farming, irrigation, ranching, and slaughter were used, there would be more open, untouched land to go around. And the land used for industry wouldn’t look – or be – too bad either.