Another Bee parks-story critic

Steven Greenhut: I’m not the only writer who sent an op-ed rebuttal to the Sacramento Bee’s overwrought park “crime wave” story (here is the follow-up editorial calling for increased park fees) and who got no response. I didn’t even get an acknowledgment from Editorial Page Editor Stuart Leavenworth to my much shortened op-ed version of this piece. Nor did Don Amador. Here is Amador’s op-ed:

Visitor Contacts are Not a Crime

By Don Amador

July 27, 2010

As a native Californian and land-use professional, I was disappointed today by your editorial entitled: It’s the Wild West in our state parks.

Rather then developing an opinion based on a dispassionate review of the facts, the Bee appears to have relied on the hype surrounding the State Parks Initiative and its proposal to create a $1/2 billion dollar per year slush fund by levying an $18/yr. tax per vehicle owned.

The editorial wrongly lumps ranger contacts with visitors who are reporting a bee sting, or a raccoon stealing a sack lunch, with real crimes such as DUIs, drug trafficking, vehicle theft, and vandalism of public property.

The State Vehicular Recreation Areas, water-based State Recreation Areas, and State beaches have the highest visitor usage in the State Park system. Of course there are going to be higher crime rates with parks with the highest visitation. But it is wrong to mischaracterize a visitor contact as a crime.

Crisis mongering is unattractive and seldom offers real solutions. I have always supported law enforcement and proper management of our public lands. However, popular self-funded user-pay/user-benefit programs such as OHV and Boating and Waterways should not be sacrificed on the alter of political correctness to support an Initiative that directs tens of millions of dollars to non-park-related environmental groups and state agencies such as the Ocean Protection Council.

Support for the State Parks Initiative should be left up to the individual taxpayer and public land user without cheerleading from a biased media.

Don Amador was a commissioner on the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission (1994-2000) and is currently a land-use consultant. He writes on environmental issues from his office in Oakley, California. He may be contacted by email at: [email protected]

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