More green for Green Mountain | SummitDaily.com
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More green for Green Mountain

EDITORIAL

Anyone questioning the pay-to-play philosophy should get a tour of Green Mountain Reservoir from the Forest Service. There, the impact of Forest Service funding struggles and careless users, and the need for immediate fixes, can be viewed almost as plainly as a museum display.Beer cans and Styrofoam cups dot the willow bushes. Roads caused by careless ATV users meander through sensitive wetlands. Deep cracks in dirt parking lots show the effects of erosion when it’s not managed properly. The impacts are already there. Public toilets are dilapidated. Officials discovered the water levels in one septic tank were changing with the levels of Green Mountain Reservoir, meaning human sewage was leaking into the water before the area was shut down. During dry seasons, a major boat ramp doesn’t extend into the water far enough, rendering it unusable. There’s still more. Rotting picnic tables with nails sticking through them line one of the most popular areas. It goes on and on. In fact, it caused one Forest Service employee to comment during the tour, “It’s really hard to have pride in your job when you don’t have the funds to do so.”However, the USFS should get credit for recently stepping back from the issues and forming a management plan to the area. The ensuing report, detailed in today’s paper on A1, explains that careless users of the area, and not the district managers, are setting the rules for the land.Some how, this has to change. The Forest Service, which has seen millions cut back from its annual budget in the past eight years, will raise fees for the area and receive $1.21 million during the next decade to make the needed improvements.The Forest Service should be applauded for addressing the problem. And users who want to vent frustration about higher fees should not blame the campground, or the district managers who chose to raise the fees. The blame rests with those with the checkbook in Washington D.C., who are too far away to witness the impact of consistent cutbacks of funding for public lands. Too bad for us, it’s in our back yard.


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