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Speak up for our lands

Irene Schmidt

I was astounded to see the letter to the editor from Garland Young regarding a $25 annual “pass” for day-use areas run by his concession. This $25 is in addition to the fees the Forest Service wants to access hiking trails? So now people are supposed to fork over $50 per year if they want to hike and picnic? And, $6 to stop and eat lunch at a picnic area? Fees are spiraling out of control and putting the use of public lands out of reach. The national forests belong to all U.S. citizens. To ask people to pay yet another tax (which is really what it is) is outrageous.

I don’t live in Colorado, but I bring my tourist dollars there almost every year. I visited Mesa Verde this spring (the national park that is touted as a “World Heritage Site”). I was shocked at having to pay $20 a night to camp, and the campground and restrooms were in wretched condition – and I’m talking just plain dirty. We should get the concessionaires and the profit motive out of our parks and national forests.

Believe me, I will not be bringing my tourist dollars back to Colorado simply to hand over to some concessionaire for the “privilege” of having a simple picnic or a walk on my own public lands. There is no reason at all why users can’t take their garbage home with them if the Dumpsters and pickup cost so much. We need to send a clear message to our Legislators to provide the Forest Service and park service with adequate funds to hire their own staff to care for our lands – people who will be responsible and answerable to us, not concessionaires who pay their employees as little as possible and who wring out as much profit as possible. It’s time to speak up for our lands.

Irene Schmidt

Mount Horeb, Wisc.


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