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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Report from Norway

An N3C member traveling in Norway recently sent us this comment:
Last week when we were up in the high Norwegian mountains I found myself comparing US wilderness with what they call wilderness and national parks here.  They run open-range stock, mainly sheep, everywhere, even on the highest elevations limited only by the animals' ability to climb cliffs and snow/ice.  Which means that even far above tree line where the heather (or similar species) is common you can see that the plants are heavily grazed.  And of course unless you get onto the snow fields and glaciers, there are frequent piles of sheep and cattle crap (or maybe it just seems frequent to my eye).  Also, the huts and private holdings are everywhere.  Even the top of the highest mountain in Norway has a small shop selling candy and snacks.  Right in the middle of a national park!  Soon as I read a notice about the snack shop I completely lost all interest in climbing the mountain.  Picking and collecting flowers etc was allowed, but (get this) only if you're doing it for yourself.  I didn't see signs of anyone backpacking.  Here they just go hut to hut and get food at each stop, etc., the European way.  All this, despite quite large land areas that could be set aside fully protected.  I really enjoyed seeing the mountains here, but came away with a deeper appreciation of the US park and wilderness systems (which work all the better because of public advocacy by groups like N3C).

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