21st Century Problems.. Recreation Bucks and Different Solutions-The San Gabriels Otra Vez
I thought it was interesting that on the previous post on the role of concessionaires (here), many of our usual readers did not weigh in. I don’t know what that means.. certainly we will have recreation funding problems, whether or not we do fuel treatments on the national forests and how that debate finally turns out. Maybe we are missing the forest for the trees..;). What do most taxpayers get from the national forests? Water, some wood, some energy, but mostly recreation.
It seems like there are currently two responses to “not enough money”… 1) give it to the Park Service (which gets funding from exactly the same place) or 2) use concessionaires. I would propose another, “design a funding process for the Forest Service that everyone (at least on this blog) can support, and then lobby the heck out of Congress”. For example, what if retirees, the conservation community and AFSEEE all joined together for heavy duty grassroots lobbying?
I would be interested in what you think of my idea, plus what are your ideas?
What triggered this was another article about trashed public land, with the answer (again) being getting the bucks from another pocket of Uncle Sam.
Here’s the link to the LA Times article, and below is an excerpt. The subtitle of the article is:
“Cutbacks leave rangers outnumbered in dealing with car burglaries, drug deals, gold prospectors and rowdy parties along the mountain creek.”
Beautiful and clean may have been an apt description in the past. But it doesn’t fit today. Although water quality monitors say the East Fork is safe to swim in, the vicinity of the swimming hole was fouled by dozens of dirty diapers and, on some rocks midstream, human feces.
“I’ve lost count of the times I’ve pleaded with the Forest Service to get the trash out of the river,” said Mark Yeltsin, manager of the Camp Williams Cafe, the only commercial establishment on the East Fork. “They have a stock answer: ‘Sorry. We don’t have the resources.’”
Tom Contreras, supervisor of the 640,000-acre Angeles National Forest, said a few more rangers and cleanup crews would certainly enhance his ability to enforce laws on the river, but budget restraints have made that all but impossible. “We have one full-time technician assigned to that area — I wish we had more,” Contreras said.
Environmental and community groups say conditions have reached critical mass, not only on the river but across the San Gabriel Mountains. Something needs to change.
“We desperately need a new vision and management plan for the East Fork and the entire range,” said Juanna Torres, a spokeswoman for the Sierra Club. “What we’ve got up there now isn’t working.”
San Gabriel Mountains Forever, a coalition of community and environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Friends of the River, is backing a plan that seeks to balance the crush of tourists with conservation. Essentially, it would transform the San Gabriels into a national recreational area co-managed by the National Park Service. The designation would make it eligible for additional federal resources, including law enforcement officers, interpretive signs and trash collection.
The National Park Service is completing a study of the proposal for submission to Congress and possible authorization next year.
What, there is need for law enforcement, but it needs to be “designated” before the funds will be available? I think something smells funny, but it isn’t the piles on the rocks, it’s something about the current budget process.