Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Of the Curonian Spit: Countryside

The highlight (or at least the major activity, according to some voters) of our time on the Spit was a bike ride from Juodkrante to Nida. It was a nice ride along the seaside and up and over some tall, forested sand dunes. The most striking element was a long portion that rode parallel to the beach on the sea-side of the spit. (Pictured above is the inland or "lagoon" side.) For miles, the beach was a "strict nature preserve," as in, no people can go there at all.

I suppose that in the U.S. we have some portions of National Parks that are off limits for restoration purposes, and since none of our traveling party spoke Lithuanian, it was my impression that the "strict nature preserve" was off-limits to people, all year, every year. I further suppose this is great for conservation and there is some species of bird that is totally psyched to just lay its eggs in peace for once, and I'm pretty much in support of that. But it also seems a bit odd to me, that this is one of the prettiest parts of Lithuania and yet we're not allowed to even go look at it? Maybe our solution would be to build a tightly controlled walkway with a fence and a full-time ranger to make sure nobody ventured off said boardwalk, which might be out of Lithuania's budget. But even so, it seems like the Lithuanian system might not last long against the forces of voting outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

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