National Parks Exploited

A recent Tampa Tribune article has me seeing red. Not because I’m a strong supporter of President Bush’s policies. I’ll admit that until recently, I’ve been a strong Republican supporter. However, with the breaking of American’s trust I can no longer say that. But that’s another story…

Private Sector Jobs

This time Bush has it right, these long-time government jobs, should go to the private sector but why stop there? Did you know that local, state and federal government employ almost 50% of the population? These are taxpayer financed positions.

Is it any wonder our economy is collapsing from the sheer weight of our government? No economy could withstand such lopsided growth. The only time in our history the government has employed so many, was during the great depression when many major building projects were undertaken to jump-start the economy.

However, this is not the main source of my wrath.

Playground for the Rich

Our national parks have been turned into  playgrounds for the upper class.

During my one and only trip to Yosemite National Park, I was appalled to find that rooms in the exclusive Ahwahnee Hotel went for $255 a night. Worse still The Yosemite Lodge charged $125 per night for a motel room, that included a telephone, no television or air conditioning. I assumed this was to keep down noise? However, we were awakened at 5 am to the sound of chain saws outside our room.

So you want to go camping in Yosemite? “Housekeeping Camp” as they call it, consists of a “rent-a-camp” type tents on a frame, which are rather rustic in nature. These type of camp sites run around $16 anywhere else in the country. In Yosemite, they ran $55, per night.

Now you tell me…Who can afford these prices?

Well I can tell you that there were a great many foreign speaking individuals milling around during our visit. Very few appeared to be middle class American’s. I could be wrong but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Push to Ban Snowmobiles

The article went on to indicate that snowmobiles should be banned. The big push has been made in Yellowstone, Yosemite and other National Parks. This whole issue has left me somewhat confused.

According to the National Parks Conservation Association “Snowmobiles make the battle to survive even more difficult, releasing dangerous levels of toxins into the air and exposing wildlife, park staff, and visitors to benzenes, toluenes, and other carcinogens.”

While the National Parks Service announced yesterday (September 5, 2003) that it will be enlarging the Chamber of Commerce building located at the West entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

The National Parks Service also states that “Road construction” is perennial in Yellowstone National Park. In general, park roads have either been recently repaired or reconstructed, or are scheduled for repair or reconstruction. Approximately 80% of main park roads (about 185 mi) are in a structurally deficient state, with poor quality road bases failing under the weight, speed, and volume of modern traffic for which they were not designed. Harsh winter weather and short construction seasons provide additional challenges.

These needs are now being addressed under a 20-year, $300 million Federal Lands Highway Program for Yellowstone National Park.”

It would seem to me that if we are spending this much money on the roads in Yellowstone, that accomodations could be made for snowmobiles, at the same time for little cost, in much the same way bicycle paths have been added around the country.

I won’t even mention the fact that snowmobiles weigh considerably less than “modern” vehicles and are designed for the “harsh winter weather”.

Over Crowding

During our visit to Yosemite they were attempting to ban all vehicles  from the valley floor. Activists were complaining of the overcrowding.

Well, I’m no expert but it seems to me if they removed some of the shops and restaurants that contribute to the excessive litter, over pricing and congestion, it would go a long way towards ridding the park of over crowding. Much more so than banning vehicles.

If they are successful in banning vehicles it will only allow them to further limit use of the park by charging for parking and bus service to gain access.

During a trip to Keystone in Colorado I noticed that private snowmobiles weren’t in apparent use. However, you could rent a snowmobile and take a guided tour through abandoned coal mines for a mere $125 per person.

I must say I found the ski packages to be pretty reasonable, of course these were private ski resorts, not a part of the National Parks System.

Our National Park System is a national treasure and should be cared for but not at the expense of preventing regular ordinary citizens access to their beauty. What should end is the flagrant commercial use of our National Parks.

Why should a privileged few be given the right to profit while so many are denied access because of exorbitant pricing? Admission alone into Yosemite is $20. A high price to pay for those living near the park, who must sneak in after the rangers leave, in order to enjoy the beauty laying in their own backyard.

While the recent economic downturn has hit hard for many Californian’s, Yosemite is situated in a part of the state that never was a job hot spot. Many in the area eek out a meager existance close to home or commute long distances into the city daily.

Government Land Grab

Our government currently owns over 35% of this nation [This includes parks, forests and grasslands; it excludes land used for such purposes as office buildings, prisons, or B29 irrigation projects.] as of 1995 and is swallowing up millions of acres of private land each year. Land belonging to the people that must be returned.

It has been said, our society was founded on Christian pricipals and ideals; while this will continue to be debated for many years with both sides presenting evidence to their own “truth”. There is one thing for certain. This country was founded on liberty.

Liberty for all. Not the few, not the chosen but for you and for me.

I believe Patrick Henry said it best when he said, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” on March 23, 1775.

Contact your representative and demand that the land be returned. Demand that non-military jobs and those necessary for defense be turned over to the private sector, our constitution requires it. Our survival as a free nation depends on it.