My name is Cedric Keith and late in 2017 I decided to make my dream of more expansive outdoorsmanship a reality by founding a site where property access could be conveniently bought and sold.
I am not a big time web entrepreneur though and I’ve never been to Silicon Valley. I’m an outdoorsman and a conservationist, someone who’s immersed himself in wild places from a childhood in eastern Canada and Maine to a 4,400 mile walk from Georgia to New Brunswick, fly rod in hand. I’m fascinated by all kinds of living things and the habitat they’re found in. And it shows in the way I’ve lived my life.
Biking along the expanding rail trails of western Pennsylvania near my Pittsburgh home, I felt disappointed by the few places available for camping and this seemed strange as these trails pass through thousands of privately owned wooded acres. How could I pitch a tent and respect an owner’s property rights at the same time?
But there was another important aspect to my thinking as I started to ponder this. You see, I’m a person who believes in the great value of freedom, who believes in limited government and who respects property rights as integral to the American way. So, naturally, I didn’t want to see
another program whereby a government agency would in some way extend its reach over private property. Rather, we libertarians think in terms of voluntary exchange, value for value.
It wasn’t much of a leap to wonder whether some landowners would accept fees for the privilege of pitching tents along the trails. And, in fact, what if people could buy permits to simply access for any recreational purpose at all through a website? What if it were quick, easy and contract-free: no obligation to stay if there’s any dissatisfaction?
But wait, there’s more! WikiparX was always a conservation idea too. I grew up in the era when environmentalists told us that conservation had to always be accomplished through greater government control and tedious rules. This made environmentalism a lot of enemies. I think conservation is best accomplished by seeing that landowners are simply paid for keeping land undeveloped – in fine shape for fish, wildlife and recreationists alike – the way most landowners like it anyway. It’s a free market idea whose time has come.
Today, I’m thrilled to watch WikiparX becoming a reality. I can’t wait to see what landowners do with it – things I’m sure I can’t imagine yet. A Wikipark isn’t the same as traditional government parks and isn’t meant to be a replacement for the public lands that so many of us enjoy regularly. Wikiparks don’t have permanence – and this is a good thing – nature doesn’t like permanence either. They spring into existence and go away at the landowner’s pleasure – there’s always something new at WikiparX! It’s a timely and dynamic idea for dynamic outdoors people!