Posted by: davepidgeon | October 20, 2008

The Backpacker Party

Since mega-Wall Street institutions melted like July snow on the slopes of Mount Washington, all other issues in the race for president have been eclipsed by what Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain would do to fix our finances. More than half of registered voters have consistently listed the economy as their most pressing concern, but come Jan. 20, those of us who cherish wilderness can take heart that a change in how the White House approaches open space will happen. Just what direction that will be remains to be seen.

Obama and McCain during interviews with me published by Backpacker in the November issue tackle some questions about how their administrations would handle open space issues like expanded domestic oil and gas drilling in the Lower 48. 

Backpacker also conducted a survey of its readers and found some astounding results. More than half, 54 percent, believe McCain would be a better “steward for public lands,” no doubt a result of the sometime rugged Arizona image he portrays and his withering attacks on Obama as an out-of-touch elitist, and there’s an even split on oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. When asked, 47 percent said they “already” support drilling while 46 percent said they “never” would. Boy, that opened my eyes to how hikers view ANWR.

My favorite question of the Q&A, though, is this one:

Last question: Where would you take a BACKPACKER reader hiking?

Obama I remember fondly my childhood visits to Yellowstone, and I would very much like to return there for some autumn hiking.

McCain I would want to take you to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, which I believe is among our nation’s best-hidden natural treasures.

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