Divide (Enviro) Watch
Since Manifest Destiny (westward expansion) swept North America, the Continental Divide has been a region under pressure. Development, resource extraction, population growth; you name it, the Divide faces issues with it. This is partly because it was once the jumping off point for early Americans migrating to the Pacific. Most people spent at least some time recharging along the Divide before pushing on to California. Some stayed longer than others. Many stayed for good. Nearly all saw it as their god-given right to take whatever they needed from the land in order to prosper.
Over time this human pressure has been enough to justify protection of whole ecosystems along the Divide and really screw up the environment in other areas. USA's first national park was established along the divide in 1872. Other NPs followed. Much land has also been entered into protection under the Wilderness Act. But just as areas were protected, so too are resources still pillaged today. Mining is the primary bane of the Divide and has been since minerals were sought beginning as early as 1800. Mining sites are responsible for many of today's environmental 'Hot Spots' along the GDMBR (see superfund sites).
Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of environmental issues along the Divide. TD encourages racers and thru-riders to take action/give back wherever possible, even if only in the form of letters to regional land managers.