I read with mixed emotions the announcement that campgrounds in New Mexico would be reopening in June. In one sense, I was happy thinking that things are returning to normal. At the same time, I was worried that things are returning to normal. I’ve been enjoying the ability to access the beauty of New Mexico’s natural wonders for several years. I’ve also seen what neglect and ignorance has done to these natural wonders, what has been normal for years.

With the limited access and, in some cases closure, the state parks department has had time to clean and repair the campgrounds, and those areas designated as state parks have had time to let nature take back and heal the damage left by humans. To be able to walk through these sites and not need to step around the detritus of thoughtless New Mexicans is a joy that I hope everyone will be able to enjoy throughout this summer and forever.

And while this healing was taking place, the sections of Pecos Canyon that were under the control of the U.S. Forest Service were left open for day use with little or no supervision. Those areas became overused garbage dumps and restrooms. Bags of trash were and still are being left in the trees; cans and bottles and liquor bottles have been tossed everywhere as trees and underbrush have been chopped down and trampled. The differences are obvious to anyone who cares enough to observe them.

I was coming home from a day trip to Pecos Canyon on June 11 and passed numerous campers and trailers on their way to take advantage of this opening. I hope those who are heading up there for a weekend in the outdoors will respect and care for the great resource we have with this and other areas around the state.

The contamination and destruction of our beautiful natural resources are not accidental, are not unavoidable. It’s a choice, a conscious decision being made by the selfish and uncaring individuals who hold their personal pleasure above the rights of everyone in New Mexico to enjoy the beautiful environment that they claim they are entitled to but, by their actions, are not responsible for.

Let’s not return to normal; let’s do better.

Terry Rothwell, retired small-business owner, taxpayer and avid outdoorsman.

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