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Loving Our Home to Death

Loving Our Home to Death
November 26
16:11 2018

Tourist season. You hear it around here often. Life in our small community of Page, AZ annually ebbs and flows with the ever-growing tourist season and for good reason. We have in our midst some of nature’s most impressive gems with Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell just a stone’s throw away from the tiny town atop the mesa. We see businesses blossom after every winter’s hush as the tour buses of spring bring in the crowds of internationals once again. Our growing pains becoming clear with the need to upgrade trails and expand parking lots. Our hearts broken whenever a life is lost exploring our marvelous, but dangerous playground.

A new article in world renowned publication The Guardian came out last week attempts to get to the root of what happens when a natural treasure becomes so iconic that it is literally “loved to death” by a never ending stream of tourism. When a picturesque spot to take a selfie becomes overrun by daily visitors who may (or may not) have enough respect for the place to pick up after their pets or throw their fast food containers away. We, who live here in Page, see how those who visit us become almost drunk on the splendor, walking out into traffic as if they’ve become so blind with beauty they’ve forgotten to pay attention to small details like using a crosswalk. We keep an eye out for their safety. We understand their momentary awe, we feel a need to watch over them like toddlers.

National Park Service is no stranger to the conundrum of enjoying the tourist dollars but fearing the repercussions of a park being loved to death, beloved destinations such as Yellowstone quickly coming to mind. But with the evolution of photo intensive websites like Instagram it does not seem likely to slow down anytime soon. Local businesses in Page certainly hope the flow doesn’t become a drip, but city leaders rationalize often that the city needs to be prepared if that should one day happen. “Don’t count on that money forever,” they say. For the first time ever beginning April 1, 2019 a new parking fee will be implemented to cover the ever growing cost to accommodate the tourist needs and maintain the Horseshoe Bend overlook. With the latest expansions, parking for a hike up to the Horseshoe Bend overlook has become a bit of a nightmare and has resulted in many new restrictions.

We certainly do live in a beautiful place here in Page, America. We are extremely lucky to have nature’s beauty right in our back yard.  Local Page business owners Joe and Jordan Lapekas know the power of being a vacation destination after their recent WordPress commercial, now viewed millions of times, has earned them worldwide recognition which, let’s face it, ain’t bad for business and just keeps the tourists coming in droves to take on our lovely Lake Powell with their own paddleboard dreams.

While The Guardian article speaks to how a natural site can literally be “loved to death”,  in and of itself the report will no doubt drive even more to come see the very sites it seeks to protect, which is just part of the cycle to be sure, but maybe not a vicious one. Not yet.

Read it for yourself here.

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