Letter: The political cost of trail closures

Graphic by Lori Deaton

It seems as if almost hourly that the National Forest Service or county or city of Asheville deems it necessary to close down yet another walkway or trail to further enforce state and local stay-at-home directives. The latest round involves some very minor or previously little-used trails in our area.

Has any thought been given to the potential political cost of these closures? Our Asheville zeitgeist seems to be dominated by comfortable retirees safely ensconced in some version of spacious Town Mountain sanctuaries, a group rather well known for New Age risk aversion. The younger demographic, sharing living spaces and paying high rents with low service-industry wages, are not quite so comfortable. Overnight, many of them lost jobs. With the best weather of the year upon us, they at least had the option of enjoying open spaces safely.

The latest trail closings seem a bit excessive. Perhaps those who don’t get out much envision hikers and bikers swarming into group hugs or the like? I was in the Bent Creek area a week ago, and all the folks there were social distancing. No problem.

As this extreme level of constraint continues, week after week, a backlash is brewing. Witness the demonstrations in Lansing, Mich., and Columbus, Ohio. Those who are politically hard-of-hearing apparently are not picking up on the dog whistles emanating from the hopefully temporary occupant of the White House. The message: “Young swing voters, I got your back. I’m trying to open things up for you. If the Snowflakes keep it shut, at least know I tried and remember, come November, I’m your guy.” Scary.

We often hear, especially in hypochondriac Asheville, that, “You can’t be too careful.” Well, maybe you can?

— Larry Abbott


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5 thoughts on “Letter: The political cost of trail closures

  1. James

    The number of new coronavirus cases increased 32% the last week in Buncombe County. (Remember that when we watch incredulously as places like the Tobacco Barn and the malls open Saturday) We listen to grownups, scientific and medical experts. Look at the case of the guy who fell in a park and a rescuer lost his life trying to help him. THAT is one of several legitimate reasons why the parks have been closed — to avoid putting even more people into harm’s way when exposure to a virus is complicating efforts to maintain safety.

    We have lots of mostly empty streets in this town and surrounding areas if you need to get out of the house. Why are you intent on endangering others just to make a political point?

    • Dopamina

      I was with you until you accused the author of trying to make a political point. I read the article again with my bias detector at full blast and fail to see the point you were trying to make. Mind clarifying what in particular about the article that was just a political point? In the interest of clarity, I fully support self-quarantine, social distancing and wearing masks when those things aren’t possible.

      • James

        The title was the political cost of trail closures. Threatening political repercussions for closing down the trails. To me, that smelled of the “Open Up” protests we’ve been seeing.

      • bsummers

        For me, it was trying to link the State or National forest closures (which the city of Asheville has absolutely no control over) with political consequences for Asheville elections.

        Yeah, let’s throw the City Council bums out! They kept me out of Bent Creek!”

        Um… no they didn’t.

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