I’m very encouraged by the comments here. The fundamental message is that a lot of people really care enough to leave behind a better place.

Kenneth, you are absolutely right. The lack of financial support for our public wildlands is a huge issue. I know there are a lot of folks who are philosophically against increased taxes or user fees to properly manage and protect our nation’s parks, national forests and native landscapes, but I think it is time to pull our collective heads out of the 1800s and realize chewing gum doesn’t cost a penny a pack anymore. We can blame inefficient government all we want, but the reality it that resource protection has been drastically compromised by a lack of funding, especially under the current administration in Washington. I don’t know if we’ll ever get that back. But what we can do is support efforts to ask users of public lands to help pay for the privilege to enjoy them. When I think how much a trip to the grocery store or gas station costs, it seems unreasonable to me for folks to complain about paying $30 for an annual adventure pass to enjoy our local national (chaparral) forests.

However, I am not too optimistic about changing people’s minds who resist the concept of supporting valuable public services including public land management and fire protection. The loss of a significant number of homes during the 2007 Witch fire in San Diego County can be directly attributed to the refusal of San Diego County voters to properly fund the fire service. Even with that kind of direct impact, there are still a large number of folks writing letters to the San Diego Union-Tribune proudly proclaiming they won’t support the construction of an additional fire station. Incredible.

— RICHARD HALSEY

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