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Crisis in our national parks: how tourists are loving nature to death

The Guardian –  As thrill seekers and Instagrammers swarm public lands, reporting from eight sites across America shows the scale of the threat.

“…Over a period of four months, from high summer to late autumn, the Guardian dispatched writers across the American west to examine how overcrowding is playing out at ground level. We found a brewing crisis: two mile-long “bison jams” in Yellowstone, fist-fights in parking lots at Glacier, a small Colorado town overrun by millions of visitors. Moreover, we found people wrestling with an existential question: what should a national park be in the modern age? Can parks embrace an unlimited number of visitors while retaining what made them, as the writer Wallace Stegner once put it, “the best idea we ever had”?

“…Horseshoe Bend is what happens when a patch of public land becomes #instagramfamous. Over the past decade photos have spread like wildfire on social media, catching the 7,000 residents of Page and local land managers off guard. According to Diak, visitation grew from a few thousand annual visitors historically to 100,000 in 2010 – the year Instagram was launched. By 2015, an estimated 750,000 people made the pilgrimage. This year visitation is expected to reach 2 million…“Social media is the number one driver,” said Maschelle Zia, who manages Horseshoe Bend for the Glen Canyon national recreation area. “People don’t come here for solitude. They are looking for the iconic photo.”

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