Project Remote

 

Remote Footprints is investigating what it means to be ‘remote’ on the surface of the Earth. We have initiated Project Remote, a unique mission to define remoteness scientifically, identify the remotest location in each of the 50 United States, and mount documentary expeditions into each state’s ‘Remote Spot.’  We are generating new knowledge about ecological and physical conditions in these special, previously unknown, places.  Using Project Remote as a platform, we are working to increase nationwide awareness about the importance of preserving our remaining roadless wildlands–forever.

Interactive map showing the progress of Project Remote across the United States.  Red dots denote state Remote Spots.  Click a dot to read expedition blogs from particular states and follow our progress across America.



 

Project Remote uses a combination of GIS science and documentary exploration to generate new baseline knowledge about America’s Remote Spots.

 

 

Even as America works to preserve some of its wildlands through arguably the world’s best conservation policies, remoteness of our national landscape still is being lost because of encroaching development and roadbuilding.  Many of our greatest public wildlands are laced with an alarming number of roads or are outright developed, themselves.

Through Project Remote, we already have discovered that the U.S. roads network fills the national landscape so fully that it is no longer possible to get more than 5 miles from a road or town in the vast majority of the continental United States.  We also have learned that the remotest locations left in our country reside on islands because the continental mainland is laced with roads and blanketed by cities.

There is a vast body of scientific literature that documents the negative impacts of roads to ecosystems and wildlife.

Our excessive roads network diminishes the wilderness character of the once wild American landscape.  Wilderness seekers are far less likely in our generation to experience truly remote areas that are distant from the roar, smell, and sight of fossil-fueled civilization.  What will we leave the next generation?  A landscape full of concrete, asphalt, noise, and smog?  Less wild places?  It’s unbelievable how much remoteness we have already lost, and unacceptable to lose any more.

Our Vision?  Remote Footprints believes that it is ill-advised and unnecessary to build any new roads on public lands including: state parks and forests, national parks and forests, national wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Land Management lands.  If a road must be built, then we believe that another road of equal mileage  and magnitude should be removed and restored to native habitat. In other words:  no net increase of road mileage within public lands.

We also encourage private landowners to consider this vision for their lands.  After all, the majority of our country is in private ownership.  The decisions made by private citizens ultimately will decide, more than anything, whether our great nation will preserve it’s remote and roadless areas.

We, therefore, are calling for the conservation of the existing remoteness of our country to preserve the right of future generations to experience wild places that are remote from human infrastructure.

As Project Remote proceeds state by state, we are raising national awareness about the importance of preserving remote, roadless areas to: 1) support biodiversity, 2) preserve our inalienable right to have meaningful wilderness experiences remote from the influences of human development, and 3) facilitate deeper relations between people–especially families–and wildlands.

 

We invite you to follow us–Ryan, Rebecca, and our young daughter Skyla–on 50 documentary journeys into the nation’s remotest locations.  From barrier islands and blue ridges in the East to deserts and mountain ranges of the West, we are proceeding eventually to the remotest location in the entire USA–in Alaska…Click here to read our expedition blogs.

Project Remote Fundraiser:  After reading this website, you might be surprised at just how hard it is to get away from a road or a town nowadays–and instantly understand that we must now as a nation speak out to protect remaining public roadless areas from further roads development.  Project Remote is now half-way done!  We plan to document 10 states in 2014, from Alabama to California.  Our goal is to raise $6, 500 simply to offset the cost of traveling frugally state by state, completing the documentary field work, and maintaining this website.   If you like what we do, please Click here to make a tax deductible donation to support Project Remote today.  Thank you so very much for helping us to preserve remote America…

–Remote Footprints

 

12 Responses to Project Remote

  1. Lauren says:

    I think my thesis research site is close to Louisiana’s most remote spot! In my opinion, it’s also the most beautiful place in our state. Here’s one of my pictures from the Bird’s Foot Delta region (with some color alternation): http://instagram.com/p/Xq-R1lKJyy/ I’ll be out that way a few times this summer.

    • Remote Footprints says:

      That is a beautiful place indeed, Lauren, and thanks for sharing the pic! We would love to tap into your local knowledge if the Spot does indeed land near your research site. Local knowledge was invaluable for calculating our New York Remote Spot and I imagine that with the Louisiana Spot we will need information regarding tides/ depths/hazards etc. We have your email address so if you don’t mind we will email you and enlist your help when we work on the LA Remote Spot.

  2. Peter Stanzler says:

    Please don’t do this. It is akin to Backpacker or Outside magazine publishing articles titled “Less Travelled Trails” or “Places to Get Away” that suddenly turn unvisited places to over-run. It will do nothing more than draw people to those areas contradicting the point of your study. Well-intentioned, but with unintended consequences.

    • Remote Footprints says:

      Hello Peter, Thank you for your comments. Believe me, we have stayed up to all hours deliberating on how best to document and preserve the remoteness of our country while simultaneously preserving the right of a wilderness seeker to go remote and wild…We so very much hope that Project Remote is part of that formula. We are aware of Backpacker and Outside articles. But our endeavor is much different. Project Remote is a not-for-profit scientific inquiry and campaign to start a nationwide discussion on how to preserve remoteness of the landscape. We believe that it starts by stopping our road building obsession. We are in great support of foot based or otherwise non motorized, unobtrusive wilderness travel…

  3. Michael says:

    I really like your idea here, and I have many of my own such special places throughout our country. But that is all a potential problem. Really, these remote places are unique, not just as they are, but for the few that know them. So why bring the hordes? Why advertise these places? Their uniqueness will be gone, their karma of place destroyed. They will only be a time-warp in memory.
    Even the equally and very intimately remote regions that exist in the centers of cities.
    So I can’t share with you, even though we share this idealism. These magic places.

    • Remote Footprints says:

      Michael, Thanks very much for the insight. We are not calling for a mass exodus of people to state Remote Spots. We currently are not disclosing the exact coordinates of Remote Spots for some of the reasons you mention. But eventually we will have to, as this is a scientific project that will be reported. The conservation conundrum we are faced with is–how do we conserve the remoteness that is left of our country, but still preserve a wilderness seeker’s right to experience remote wilderness? The answer we’ve come up with? Allow non-motorized, unobtrusive kinds of wilderness travel. Humans are a large part of our world, and we belong. The problem is when we alter natural ecosystems by blanketing the surface of earth with roads and cities…If we can control our roadbuilding, then we can move out of a consumption based economy and get to a higher plane of existence.

  4. Brian says:

    Hi, read about your project in The Atlantic and went through all your entertaining blog posts. Wow, you all are my heroes! Doing all that with a toddler in tow is unbelievable and inspiring to me as I am about to start a family. I’m a fellow Floridian with a similar interest to you all in “most remote” points. My more nebulous definition of remote is furthest from a footpath or waterway navigable by boat. This has taken me on wonderful multiday bushwhacking trips in southeastern swamps and Latin American jungles. For home territory my top spots are the lower Shark River Slough in the Glades and the southwestern void of Okefenokee. We made it through the former with days of laborious canoe poling in the sawgrass. The latter, in the vicinity of Blackjack Island is the most impossible vegetation I’ve ever dealt with outside of the tropics. We failed on two trips after many hours waist deep in muck often chopping every foot. Curious if your remote point in Okefenokee is there or in the northern section which should be be easier and near a canoe trail. Go to pubs.usgs.gov/wsp/2373/report.pdf and scroll to the end. If it’s in “scrub-shrub” or “mixed forest” you’re in for some heavy work.

    • Remote Footprints says:

      Hello Brian, Thank you so much for your interest in “our version” of Project Remote. It’s fantastic to see that other people like you are into this fascinating subject. Since you have been exhaustively through our website, I’m sure you understand why we have chosen our quantitative definition of remoteness and the important conservation message that it carries. It has been a series of journeys for us–intellectually and physically. Keep up the great work, yourself, and help us spread the word about the importance of preserving “remoteness” in our great country…Safe Travels.

      • Brian says:

        Yeah. Ecologically, remoteness from a road is the most important by far. Even on protected lands it’s the roads that bring in disruption. People who have to walk miles in are the sort who come and go with little trace. Although nothing stops the dang party balloons. They’re everywhere. Look forward to checking back in a few months to read about your western adventures.

        • Remote Footprints says:

          You bet we’ll have some stories to tell when we return from our first stint in the West. Also, I’ll be darned if we didn’t spot a “party balloon” very near the Virginia Remote Spot just laying there on the beach within view of the remotest location in an entire state. Makes you wonder. It’s also good to see that people like you share our belief that roads are the real culprit behind the loss of remoteness over the past century in America. May your nearest Remote Spot be free of party balloons!

  5. Doug VanDeRiet says:

    I heard about your project on NPR and found it interesting, especially about your definition of remote. You said that it is the furthest point from a road. How do you define what a road is? It seems like there are no clear rules for what defines a road. Clearly freeways to rural paved roads would be classified as roads, but what about gravel roads, two-tracks, forest roads, logging roads, jeep tracks, abandoned roads, private roads, etc? Are any or all of them counted?

    • Remote Footprints says:

      Excellent question, Doug, and one that we have battled with and discussed over and over again. In fact, almost each state has presented new challenges in the definition of a road — should it just be public roads? What about the major footprint of logging or agricultural operations – private roads with a gigantic impact. What about snowmobile routes? Our definition includes all designated motorized vehicle routes. This would include private roads, logging roads, designated snowmobile routes, designated ORV routes. All of these roads have ecological impacts – invasive species can spread on the tire of a vehicle traveling on a jeep track just as well as on a paved road. This detailed definition makes for difficult and complicated calculation but we believe its worth it…most of the time ;)