Posted by: davepidgeon | May 15, 2009

Smile, campers!

While we may not have answered the eternal question of whether bears drop a deuce in the woods, we do know nimrod human beings will pee into a geyser.

But the case of a Yellowstone National Park webcam catching six urinators in the act of spraying Old Faithful geyser, which has led to the pee’rs perpetrators receiving citations, has opened up a new debate about new generation technology in good ol’ fashion backcountry. Follow me here.

As some of you remember, Yellowstone recently completed a new comprehensive plan about the future use of wireless communication in the park. As it relates to webcams, here’s what the report first says:

Existing webcams within developed areas could be upgraded to wireless, or new wireless webcams could be installed in developed areas of the park if they are found to meet the sitting criteria adopted by this (study). No wireless webcams for visitor use will be installed within backcountry areas of the park. It is possible that wireless monitoring cameras could be placed in backcountry areas for resource monitoring or to address safety concerns, but these will not be available for public viewing purposes.

Emphasis added by me. Read that again. No webcams in the backcountry for “visitor use,” but that does not rule out webcams in the backcountry all together. Does this mean backpackers and other backcountry users will be unwitting stars of the national park’s new reality series, viewed only by park administrators? I should note the above passage only says installing backcountry webcams (they are only used in developed areas of the park currently) is merely “possible,” not probable. But they’re thinking about it.

Naturally, a lot of people don’t like this idea, and the study specifically references to their objections. Yellowstone park officials in the study respond thusly:

Webcams for public viewing would not be located in backcountry areas.  Only administrative or research/monitoring related equipment would be allowed in these areas.  The Telecommunications committee will use a minimum tool analysis to determine whether wireless monitoring equipment for research/monitoring purposes should be placed in backcountry areas. 

 That’s right, friends. Big Brotha might be coming along for your weekend excursion along the Black Canyon.

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