Jenny Anderson, John Strong: Respect cultural resources
Editor: This is the season when many of us are out enjoying the desert landscape. We’re fortunate our city is surrounded by easy access to public lands: BLM, Arizona State Trust Lands, and AZ State Parks. There are so many trails, including the new Arizona Peace Trail. This is a privilege that should not be taken for granted and is not available in some states. For example, most lands in Texas, as big as it is, are privately owned and you must either pay a fee or get special permission to use those lands for recreation or hunting. In Wyoming, some public land access is blocked by fenced private land.
What too many people do not think about is the impact we have on our outdoor environment. Once a new trail is created, the desert takes forever to recover. It is very easy to destroy native habitat and cultural sites. These sites have great value to the tribes and to archaeologists studying how people lived in the past.
This region has been inhabited for thousands of years, and there are still traces of those who came before us all around. The native peoples that lived here believed everything about the river valley held spiritual significance, and their descendents still believe this.
When we go out and enjoy hiking or 4-wheeling, we should be conscious of how easily the beautiful desert landscapes can be altered or destroyed by thoughtless actions. It is very disheartening to see trail signs, petroglyphs, or old buildings shot-up. Some of the rock glyphs are over 1,000 years old. When an archaeological artifact is destroyed or taken from the environment, it loses context, which is everything to people that study this. These items are irreplaceable. When visiting any archaeological site, please do so with respect.
Our cultural heritage should be available for everyone and for the generations to come. Stay on trails, keep your trash contained, and shoot in designated areas, cleaning-up after yourself. Take nothing but photographs---those pictures will keep your memories and take up far less space than the things you pick up. Let’s all help keep our public lands intact and open for our enjoyment.
Jenny Anderson, Lake Havasu Regional Coordinator Az. Site Steward Program
John Strong, Az Peace Trail Executive Board member and Havasu 4-Wheelers past president