Our view: We hope our state park service will balance the opportunity to get up close and personal with North Carolina’s natural beauty with efforts to promote a safer experience.
Why we believe that: The state park service is taking significant measures at Rainbow Falls in Transylvania County following the July 4 death of a Charlotte teen swept over the falls.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reported the forest service:
Felled trees across an opening at the top of the falls to deter people from entering; made the trail easier to follow, in hopes that people will adhere to the trail and not venture from it; added signs signaling the dangers associated with the waterfall; are making plans to take similar measures at other waterfalls in the park system.
We applaud the concern and the effort.
However, the Asheville paper also noted the service is considering enacting fines for people who cross barriers at the top of the falls.
Risk is inherent in life. Yes, there are deaths from people taking tumbles at waterfalls. But the dangers compared with say, driving a vehicle to the park, are statistically small.
And part of the attraction at a park is to see waterfalls, cliffs, etc. Thousands view these natural wonders each year in our state parks and return home without a scratch.
At some point, we have to take responsibility for our own actions. We’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, climbed to more than 13,000 feet in Colorado and stood at the top of High Shoals Falls in South Mountains State Park in neighboring Burke County. There were dangers in each place. There were warning signs in each place. But the ultimate responsibility for safety in those areas falls squarely on the individual, as it should.
In conclusion: We applaud the park service for taking the threat of waterfall deaths seriously. We support the efforts to remind park visitors of the associated dangers. But our gorgeous mountains and waterfalls can be dangerous to the foolhardy, as can life. All the signs and laws in the world will not change that.