To the editor: Gary Ferguson's assertion that fear of nature keeps Americans indoors is elitist and lacks nuance. His argument is historically questionable — early accounts of Niagara Falls and Yellowstone reveal many points in our history in which we feared rugged nature. ("The great fear of the great outdoors," Op-Ed, Dec. 19)
This isn't the first time we've agonized over our detachment from nature. Just look at the origins of the Boy Scouts and the National Park System.
Ferguson suggests that fear of nature explains recent reduced national park visitation and recreation. Yet a 2014 report suggests that the cost of visiting parks is prohibitive for many Americans.
We should ask what we can do to increase accessibility to nature instead of shaming those who do not share Ferguson's experience.
Anna Guasco, Ventura
To the editor: As one who has loved Sierra backpacking and hiking, I found Ferguson's article most poignant. In addition to technology addiction, I would add three other causes for youths' lack of interest in nature.
First, the legal "industry" has ensured that signs at every trailhead warn about everything that might get you. Second, urban animal rights groups castigate hunters and fishermen, the very people who care most about fish and wildlife. Finally, the intolerance of "tolerance" advocates has decimated the ranks of the Boy Scouts.
I rue the day when John Muir and his legacy will truly be dead.
Larry Walker, Canoga Park
To the editor: Ferguson misses something basic when he decries human aversion to "discomfort" and "inconvenience."
We humans are a gregarious species who have attempted to mitigate those conditions with invention and advancing technology. Perhaps the answer is a balance between nature and technology achieved with genuine education about and affordable accessibility to wilderness areas.
Ted Perle, Lake Forest