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The Narrows Road, White's Branch Arch, and Pocket Wall
(Note: Portions of the following text is from the script of a video documentary about the Narrows Road. Click on this link to watch the video: Destruction of the Narrows Road)
White's Branch Arch, the Narrows, is one of the most unusual sandstone arches in the world because it's one of a few which has a road over it. This road, commonly known as the Narrows Road, or Barker Branch Road, was closed without public hearings or approval - and it was done in a way which caused great environmental damage.
The primary reason for this closing was to make it difficult for people to enter Natural Bridge State Park from the south. The Narrows Road runs along the southerly boundary of the Park and portions of the road are now part of the Park. The barriers erected to keep motor vehicles from using road were also apparently designed to discourage hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking - even on that portion of the road which is part of the Sheltowee Trace. Worse, these treacherous barriers make it nearly impossible for elderly or physically challenged people to see and enjoy this land - just as the barrier and "gate" at the entrance of Natural Bridge Cave were obviously designed to keep them out. The same people who were responsible for closing the cave were also responsible for the closure of the Narrows Road.
Sadly, the road was closed without first removing tons of scrap metal and plastic which lay within the recently acquired portions of the Park - trash which will pose a hazard to animals and humans for centuries to come. Much of this trash could easily have been removed by the backhoes and dump trucks which were used to close the road, but this was not done. The video documents the trash along the sides of the road, but unfortunately shows none which lays deep within the Park.
Pocket Wall, a world-renowned sport climbing cliff, was one of several natural attractions which is now closed to visitors because of Park regulations and the destruction of the Narrows Road. The video tells a bit about this place and suggests reasons why it and the road should be reopened.
Warnings at the beginning and end of this video inform Park visitors about the stiff fines they face for simply getting off trail or going exploring on many of our public lands. Not so long ago, in Kentucky's state-managed lands, people could freely go wherever they wished so long as they did not harm plants or animals, start fires, or do graffiti. As each decade goes by, more and more access rights to our public lands are taken away by such actions as closing roads or caves, restricting where people can hike or ride or paddle their canoes, or simply refusing to cut bushes and trees which have grown to block viewing areas. This taking of our rights is almost always done without the consent or approval of "we the People" who's tax dollars enable our Parks and beautiful places to remain open.
A few years ago a naturalist working at
Natural Bridge remarked to a Park visitor that, "If it
was up to me, people wouldn't be allowed in Natural Bridge State Park."
By "people" he meant those who visit and enjoy the Park - not the
naturalists who are paid to study and "protect" it. We would do
well to remember these selfish words because it is becoming obvious that there
is a pervasive and dangerous mentality which
sees Park visitors as a threat - just another invasive species to
be kept out..
The purpose of this video is to sound an alarm about these increasingly frequent restrictions and those who bring them about. Viewers are challenged to take this threat seriously and join together to take back our rights. Viewers are also encouraged to question if our public lands are always managed in a truly responsible manner. To many, leaving trash in a nature preserve, doing massive environmental damage in order to keep people from enjoying their public lands, and enacting draconian laws to keep people off said lands, does not appear to be wise and responsible land management.
To learn more about your rights and restrictions while visiting Kentucky's State Parks and Nature Preserves, click on the following links:
Kentucky State Nature Preserves regulations
Natural Bridge State Resort Park regulations