Swimming Hole - West Virginia / by sam taylor

Swimming Hole - West Virginia

Good Tuesday Morning!

We have had a ton of fun exploring the Gauley Canyon, and talking with locals that have lived in the area for a while.  One aspect of conversation that comes up, and one that we have heard in other parts of West Virginia and out West, is an uneasy relationship with the federal government.

Why uneasy?  It generally comes down to a matter of perspective, about whether what the agencies do is fair to the folks that live and work in industries located in the areas impacted by federal lands.  If you live in a rural area near federal lands, maybe you see way more value in a mine or timbering of those resources than in recreation or preservation - because recreation and preservation doesn't pay your bills.    Maybe you pre-date the federal control in a remote area (as is the case in much of the Gauley Canyon), and don't appreciate restrictions on how you can use the roads or the land.  I think this actually gets exacerbated by the "thin-ness" of funds and staff the feds have - if you only see one person a year, and they are a summer-temp, how good is the info you are getting from them, do you really think they are working cooperative with you? 

It's easy to say that whatever benefits the most people should be the answer, when you are the person benefiting.

This tension speaks to a great deal of the chatter about "local control" of public lands versus central control.  Local control may not mean preservation or protection.  Central control may mean that the "little guy" trying to make ends meet gets regulated or bureaucratized until what they do is no longer feasible.   I hope folks will take the time to think about these things; many of them I didn't really think about when I was younger, some I didn't really become aware of until the last few years.  But I think this is just a smaller battleground in the wider urban/rural split that we see through this country - and these issues are going to become more stark and more hostile, if we don't start addressing them. 

How does this relate to today's image?  This waterfall is now part of the Gauley NRA, and so is a public place, on public lands.  Once upon a time, it was held privately, and was a well-loved spot on the river.  Now it is open to all, and owned by all - and was covered in beer cans that I packed out on the day I made this image - in practice it is owned by none, and no one is responsible. 

Hope folks have a great week!

Swimming Hole - West Virginia