National Geographic : 1994 Feb
A line drawn in the park In 1900 four million people lived in America's 11 western states and territories; today there are more than 50 million. Vanguard of the New West, the majority earn their living at desks and behind counters. Avid vacationers and weekenders, they are more likely to view a forested mountain slope as a national heritage than as a natural resource. Competing with Easterners for access to the region's magnificent parks, they encounter gridlock on park roads and turn to national forests and other public lands for recreation and solitude. Though promoted as a clean, economic alternative to mining and logging, recre ational use can also despoil the land. Increasingly, park and forest visitors are given brochures on environmen tally sound toilet procedures and trash disposal. UTAH AND OREGON On BLM land near Arches National Park, the living desert crust takes a constant beating from mountain bikers, who have chosen this area in Utah as their own special paradise. Thus damaged, it may never recover. More benign is the simple communing of visitors like Cebarn Carroll, enjoying Oregon's Willamette National Forest.