For that reason we support any effort by federal authorities to study the idea of limiting the number of people allowed into the dunes. While there might be several ways to make this plan work and all probably have problems that need to be worked out, it is an idea that needs to be explored.
The concept is simple, really. Set a maximum number of people allowed in the dunes. When that capacity is reached, close the dunes to visitors.
The idea was voiced by an Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission member. We know it might upset many people, but with the violence that we saw during the Thanksgiving weekend, drastic actions must be considered.
Some might argue that significant amounts of the dunes were closed to the public and that is the problem. We agree that is part of the dilemma, but it is not the whole issue. Even without the closures, 190,000 people in the dunes is too many.
It is because we want to see the dunes remain open that we want steps to be taken that assure violence does not continue there. One could argue the New Year's Eve weekend was fairly free of violence, but there only 50,000 people in the dunes.
The commissioner who suggested limiting the numbers in the dunes also suggested a prohibition on allowing alcohol in the dunes.
That idea is neither realistic nor right. It would be impossible to enforce such a ban. And a few irresponsible drinkers should not be the reason for precluding responsible drinkers who want to enjoy a beer on their vacations.
We want people to continue to enjoy the dunes as they have throughout the history of the Valley. There are a lot of good people who go to the dunes to enjoy our natural resource. But the situation is becoming a growing problem and solutions need to be found.
It may take some trial and error to find the right solutions, but the effort must move forward. And one good first step might be deciding whether there should be a limit on the number of people allowed in the dunes.