Whose land is this?

10:02 a.m. on November 17, 2009 (EST)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Whose land is this?"

Hikers and backpackers know there are a lot of different land management agencies out there: National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, state parks, local municipalities, and so on. Then there are various land designations: Wilderness, national park, national preserve, wild and scenic river, national monument, to...

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/blog/2009/11/17/whose-land-is-this.html

12:04 p.m. on November 17, 2009 (EST)
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I picked up the wall-sized version of this map at the OR Show last summer at a US Government booth (don't recall what agency it was) and a related one (designated Wilderness Areas) at the Open House at the Menlo Park USGS just up the road from me (the Open House rotates among 3 USGS locations, so the local one is every third year - lots of great exhibits, demonstrations, and talks).

The interesting thing on the one shown is how lucky we in the West are, with huge expanses of federal (and state) land where we can do our outdoor activities. I think there is a similar map that shows state parks, though I do not know where to get it (except for one the State of California puts out and is available on line).

6:03 p.m. on November 17, 2009 (EST)
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I can understand you feel lucky Bill, but think of how lucky I feel. In northern Scandinavia (Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden) you do not need such a map at all. Main rule is, uncultivated land outside towns is free. Just hike, put up tent, make a fire, pick what you want of freegrowing berries, nuts muschromms aso, regardless of who owns the ground, it is all FREE to use!!

Add to this that all water is drinkable, fishing in sea is free too, and a diversity of landscapes with glaciers, fjords, and lots of nice huts that are cheap to use also. The more I think about it, the luckier I feel!

9:56 p.m. on November 17, 2009 (EST)
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It has been a few years since Barb and I traveled in Norway, but I recall that there were some limitations beyond the "uncultivated land outside towns". I do not recall what the restrictions were, and we were in the southern part of Norway and Sweden, not the northern parts, which may make a difference. But I do remember that the restrictions were much less. We camped in some really beautiful places, sometimes with others around, sometimes by ourselves. We did stay in a couple of "developed" campgrounds that had toilet and shower facilities and cooking shelters (and one with clothes washing and drying machines), and there was a small (very small) fee for those. Since we stayed in one of those after 2 days of bicycling in constant rain, we were happy to stick a couple kroner in the slot for a hot shower.

8:09 p.m. on November 18, 2009 (EST)
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And the math is, if I got this right, that the population density of the United States is 43X that of Norway. And...the US has 4,000,000 road miles, whereas Norway has but 56,000. And...and so forth and so on. Just from a quick Google, or two, YMMV.

My point is that any comparison between Norway and the United States is entirely apples and oranges.

And the diversity of hiking opportunities within the United States is similarly incomparable. It just is.

Yes, this is a big country with a big population, a big economy, big plans and big pretty much everything and that being the case you just gotta' have some rules. This is a land built on the idea of private ownership and dedicated to the proposition that some lands have to be protected from that idea.

Whatever. It's home. It never gets boring. I love this place. I can paddle through a swamp, scamble up a glacier, explore a slot canyon, raft a raging river, camp in arboreal forests or deserts and never leave my backyard. I can literally ride my bicycle 45 minutes to a tree that stands more than 300 feet high and in the same 45 minutes, were I in a car, I can be across the Golden Gate bridge and smack dab in the middle of the most interesting city in the world.

Yeah, I think we're pretty lucky, yes I do. I think it would be a good idea if we all said that together right out loud.

While hoisting a beer, of course, in deference to well-honored European tradition.


7:06 p.m. on November 20, 2009 (EST)
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@Bill. The only rule that is worth mentoning besides uncultivated ground, is to stay away from habitated houses at least 150 meters. Btw an area that has been planted with trees is regarded as cultivated land, but most people understand that a tent destroys fragile seedlings, and stay away from such places. Making fire is not encouraged, we also encourage LNT hiking.

I seem to remember that you and Barb have considered coming to Scandinavia to visit her swedish relatives. Please do, and let BigRed have a hint, he lives closer to the most visited places like Jotunheimen, Rondane and the fjords of the west coast.

@Drake I did not compare the two countries USA and Norway, just said that I felt immensely lucky to live in a country where we have such freedom to the land.

3:43 a.m. on November 27, 2009 (EST)
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By all means, let us know if you decide to visit The Old Country.

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