Some groups are looking for ways to reduce the damage to natural areas done by off-road vehicles. An organization representing off-road riders agrees that there should be rules for off-roading… but not complete bans on the recreational vehicles. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham
Some groups are looking for ways to reduce the damage to natural areas
done by off-road vehicles. An organization representing off-road riders
agrees that there should be rules for off-roading… but not complete bans
on the recreational vehicles. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester
Off-road riding is a lot of fun for a lot of people, but some environmental
groups want off-road vehicles banned in many state and national parks.
For example, one study is looking at banning off-road vehicles from
some sand dunes on Lake Michigan because they damage rare plants.
Russ Ehnes is with the riders’ group the National Off-Highway Vehicle
“We all need to be sensitive when it comes to threatened and endangered
species and habitat, but we need to also find ways to provide
opportunities instead of just eliminating opportunities.”
Ehnes concedes as the number of off-road riders has increased, damage
to natural areas has worsened. He says it’s up to the park managers,
though, to find a way for everyone, including riders, to enjoy the parks
and preserve the important habitat.
For over 4,000 years, llamas have been used to carry loads through rough mountain terrain. Out West, it’s not uncommon to see llamas carrying tents, sleeping bags, and food for hikers. In the Great Lakes region, llamas are still an unusual sight on the trail, but an increasing number of people are starting to go trekking with them. They’re agile, surefooted, and tread lightly on the earth. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar Charney reports:
For over 4,000 years llamas have been used to carry loads through rough mountain
terrain. Out West it’s not uncommon to see llamas carrying tents, sleeping bags, and food
for hikers. In the Great Lakes region, llamas are still an unusual sight on the trail, but an
increasing number of people are starting to go trekking with them. They’re agile,
surefooted, and tread lightly on the earth. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar
(leaf noise) (walking)
“This is pretty, the lake out here.”
Cheryl Topliff is leading her llama named Streak through the woods at Seven Lakes State
Park in Michigan. Streak is mostly black except for his feet, his face, and the front of his
“And he’s got curly locks on the top of his head – he’s cute.”
And he’s a bit unusual; he’s a talker.
“I’m getting a fully narrated tour.”
Cheryl Topliff originally got Streak because of his long wooly hair. She’s a fiber artist
and weaves with llama fur. But recently she and her husband got interested in hiking
with their llamas.
“For me personally, it is just getting outdoors on a nice fall day and getting some exercise and
walking, plus the comradery of the other llama people.”
Streak sets the pace for a group of hikers and their llamas. They wander through
meadows full of flowers. They find their way through deep wooded groves. And
trudge up and down hills.
He does like to walk and he likes to be out in front of the whole group.
But today’s trek isn’t for fun. Streak is working on getting certified as
a pack llama – that’s a llama that has been tested to make sure it’s trained
to carry loads and behave well in the backcountry. That means they go
where they’re led and don’t spit or kick.
Dave Foy is with the Pack Llama Association. It’s his job to make sure Streak and the
rest of the llamas are properly tested.
“Not every llama is a pack llama and people have a tendency to think so because that’s
what they’ve really been bred for but some of them don’t like it so a pack trial will put
through a regime of obstacles and trials.”
Such as jumping logs, crossing bridges, and walking through muddy streams.
“Now try to enter that water as close to the flag as possible. We want to make sure he
gets his feet wet.”
Cheryl Topliff’s husband, Don, goes first with a llama named Standing Ovation.
“It’s very shallow. Step over.”
But Standing Ovation wants nothing to do with the water. He hesitates, (“come on”)
(squish), slowly walks in (splash), and then suddenly lunges and jumps to the bank
It cost him. Standing Ovation loses points for bad behavior.
Streak goes next. He crosses the water with out a hitch, and continues on down
(amb of hiking)
“Wow, I’ve never seen a llama up close.”
“Hey, hey, quiet, nice guys.”
Streak and the rest of the llamas are an unusual site in the woods, so people out trekking
with llamas often have to stop to answer questions about what they’re doing. Margaret
Van Camp organized today’s pack trials. She says llamas seem to have gotten a bad
“People who don’t have llamas don’t have a positive impression of llamas. They always
think they spit and they think you can’t ride them. What are they good for? But then they
see you doing this and they realize you can have a lot of fun with them.”
“Wow! Look at the pretty llamas.”
Margaret Van Camp says the nice thing about llamas is that they find their own food,
don’t need much water since they are related to camels, and they don’t damage trails like
horses, mules, and bicycles.
“So that’s why llamas are so nice – because they’re so enviro-friendly they make it easy
to carry more with no more impact on the environment than you – probably less than you
with your hiking boots.”
That’s because llama’s have padded feet like a dog, not hooves which is why on federal
land, llamas are allowed on trails that are closed to horses. And that’s one reason llama
trekking is growing in popularity.
“All right, if you can come one at a time. This is a kicker hill. Next llama. He’s rearing
to go. He’s revving his engines.”
“We’re going mountain climbing. You ready for this big boy? (llama noises) Good.”
By the end of the hike, Streak has negotiated all the obstacles and passed all his tests.
(amb: trailer door)
Cheryl Topliff loads him in the trailer and heads for home with damp feet, a muddy
husband, and a couple llamas ready for their next adventure in the woods.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Tamar Charney.
As far back as the Boston Tea Party, taxes have stirred passions. In campaign season, the word “tax” is tossed around like a grenade, often prompting politicians to duck and hide. But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator, Julia King, thinks politicians should stop running from the “Tax-and-Spend” label and instead defend taxes – and the many vital services they fund:
As far back as the Boston Tea Party, taxes have stirred passions. In campaign season the
word “tax” is tossed around like a grenade, often prompting politicians to duck and hide.
But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator, Julia King, thinks politicians should
stop running from the “Tax-and-Spend” label and instead defend taxes – and the many
vital services they fund.
Despite a shaky economy, a looming war, despite rising numbers of uninsured
Americans, somehow there are still politicians who peddle tax cuts as cure alls.
It’s about time we clear something up: When a candidate says, “I’ll lower your taxes,”
he’s put forth only half of an idea. The other half of that idea involves cutting programs
that could be important to many of us.
I recently stood on a Northern Indiana lakeshore and admired a crisp, autumn scene. But
instead of inspiring me the quiet water and the changing landscape filled me with a dull,
nagging worry. I imagined a future without such places – or at least without public
access to them.
Like countless other venues around the country, the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources recently suffered the loss of 8.2 million dollars in permanent budget cuts, cuts
that forced the elimination of arts and cultural programs in state parks, the closing of
some parks, and the “downsizing” of many that stayed open. Still others were turned
over to private operators who increased fees to cover actual costs, making visits now
unaffordable for some people.
Few politicians seem willing to admit that slashing taxes means shrinking public service
and even public safety. Yet this is the time to connect the dots, to thread together rhetoric
and reality. It’s a long list of things that make a society — our society — livable. A
thriving park system is just one piece of the delicate mosaic we call civilization.
Is there ever mismanagement of public funds? Sure, and it deserves attention. But,
seriously, when’s the last time you saw a park naturalist in an Armani suit or behind the
wheel of a Rolls Royce? For the most part, government employees are not whooping it
up on your tax dollars. And never mind Enron – in Indiana the salaries of just 10 of our
highest paid executives could support the entire Indiana Department of Natural
Resources’ general fund. That’s a story that plays out in nearly every state across the
Right now — in the midst of campaign season — is the time to sort through national and
local priorities. Whether anyone acknowledges it or not, cutting taxes means cutting
away at the fabric of society.
Surely if our nation can find the money and the will to fully fund war and death, we can’t
claim poverty when we’re challenged to enhance life.
Julia King lives and writes in Goshen, Indiana. She comes to us through the Great Lakes
Martin Smay on his horse Golden Feather likes to ride in public parks. He says there has to be balance between recreational uses and preservation.
Horses have an impact on the parks. At a campsite, horses graze, trample, and leave behind manure which will temporarily damage grassland areas.
Whether it’s hiking, biking, or riding all-terrain vehicles… every time
you use a park, you damage it. It’s the job of park managers to balance the
recreational uses against preserving natural areas. It’s not easy. The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports… people want more
places for new types of recreation, but park managers are still struggling
to find the right balance for more traditional recreational activities:
Learning how to fish isn’t hard, but if you don’t have someone to show you how…chances are, it’ll take a lot of trial and error before you learn the subtle nuances of the sport…like how to bait a hook so the fish can’t steal all your worms.For most of us, these fishing lessons were informal, taught by parents or older brothers and sisters. But as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Wendy Nelson found out, this summer, the state of Michigan is helping people get into the act: