Why manage?

Harry Morrison's comments presented to the Philmont Ranch Committee, Spring 1994

            Undoubtedly, the days spent hiking the trails of the Philmont backcountry are an exciting, once in a lifetime adventure for the scouts who have the opportunity to visit. For most, it is probably their first experience with being in such a wild and untamed environment. Many no doubt come away with a greater appreciation for the forces of nature that surround us. In our urban, technological world the wilderness experience can teach many valuable lessons to people of all ages.

            Ironically to maintain a quality wilderness experience requires management of the Philmont backcounty. Forests are dynamic systems that are in a perpetual state of change. This cycle of change from vigorous growth, maturity and then decline of a forest is imperceptible to the casual observer until a catastrophe such as a cataclysmic wildfire or epidemic insect attack strikes. These are two ways nature renews ecosystems that have reached old-age. This cycle of change and renewal is inevitable and one lesson to be learned from a wilderness.

            Unfortunately, to let nature take its course without intervention by man can be dangerous for the Philmont due to its thousands of visitors each year. Many of the forests on the Philmont are in decline. This decline may not be noticeable until a fire or insect outbreak strikes. These dramatic event generally occur during drought conditions when trees are weakened.