Saturday, June 24, 2006
I'm sure you have heard all sorts of opinions regarding the Rainbow Gathering, but I thought I'd offer mine from Vail in defense of the Forest Service, who deserve all the respect in the world.
First, I visited some friends of mine who have been camping on national forest land for the past month or more. I first visited this site last year, and it was one of the most beautiful places that I've been. Situated in an immature aspen grove, it overlooks a magnificent vista, is perfectly flat for camping and was covered with purple wildflowers.
Yesterday, the site was nothing of its previous beauty. It was one giant human footprint. There were dirt trails torn in to the grass from habitual travel, there was a fire pit in the middle and personal debris all over. While they are all well intentioned, the site is destroyed until Mother Nature has time to catch up. The Forest Service issued them a citation for using the site for residential purposes and informed them of a fire ban and told them to leave or face arrest. Using the site in such a manner not only destroys the beauty but keeps others from discovering and sharing in the beauty of the site.
Second, Forest Service employees work -- and I do mean work -- very hard for little money. They do it because they feel passionate about protecting our parks. This, in and of itself, is deserving of the utmost respect. Now, disrespect them as civil servants and people by throwing rocks and sticks and you have assault, which is illegal, and why they have weapons. It is the same as a menacing bear, except the humans are not entitled to the land.
The bottom line: good intentions go a long way, it is important to take a step back and look at the risk and rewards for the Forest Service workers who are the stewards of the land on our behalf.