Monday, September 04, 2006

But what really burns me up...

The scene above is from the Meadows Campground near Harts Pass in the Okanogan National Forest. It used to be one of my favorite car camps. Unfortunately the campground and several thousand surroundings acres of forest went up in flames in a massive fire two years ago. Ya, I know the forest will come back soon enough. But sigh-look at the spot now-once lush old-growth subalpine fir and lodgepole pine-now just an open area among snags.

But what really burns me up is what these forest fires may be doing to our trails. Ya again-I know that this is a natural occurrence-I'm not as worried about the fires burning up thousands of acres of backcountry as I am about the Forest Service abandoning trails in the burnt areas. The US Forest Service, thanks to both Dems and Reps in the last 20 years has been bled dry. There's no money in the coffers. I'm afraid that once a fire destroys a trail-leaving snags and a general mess in its wake; the Forest Service won't have the funds to reopen it. This worries me. I recently hiked the South Fork Cascade River Trail. It has been destroyed by fire. God knows if it'll ever open again.

Fortunately the campground at the Meadows was rebuilt-the facilities are very nice. Now if the Forest can only catch up. But I'm still waiting to see what the future for our trails that lie in the fire zone will be. Let our officials know that you expect our trails to reopen. We've lost far too many already in the past three decades.

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