Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Crime and the National Forest on MLK Day

Sunrise on snow

We go to the National Forest whenever we can. I prefer going to the National Park but there are no nearby access points for Olympic National Park. Most of the access points are closed due to road washouts or landslides.

Twice this winter I have taken my kids up into the South Fork Skokomish area of the National Forest so they could play in the snow. I build a camp fire to keep warm by and we all roast hot dogs and marshmallows. One time we parked beside the road and today we parked in a campsite in the Brown Creek Campground.

We could not have reached this campground with out four wheel drive and snow tires. We had the entire campground to ourselves all day. We had a good time but only stayed for three hours because it got cold when the sun went below a nearby ridge.

We were not the first people to visit this campground since the snow fell. The campsite next to the one we used had been trashed. Diapers had been partially burned in the fire pit, beer cans were strewn everywhere and huge piles of dog poop were left behind. I don't know why people treat the national forest with such disrespect but I hesitate to come down on them too hard when I consider what the timber industry has done to the national forest. One trashed campsite does not compare to the clear-cutting of 90% of the Skokomish River Drainage.

Still I would like to see more law enforcement in the forest. In the past month I have witnessed trees being shot at, multiple piles of still smoking trash and dangerous driving. I have also noticed that the Fir Creek Guard Station was broken into this month. What gives? Has a lawless group suddenly decided to start using the forest this winter? Maybe this type of thing happens all the time but that's not been my experience. I am worried now when I park my vehicle at a trail head. I don't like the idea of unruly drunks with shotguns driving up and down the roads and shooting at trees just feet from my parked vehicle.

The Forest Service has only one law enforcement agent for all of the East Side of the Hood canal and he managed to find us when we were mushroom picking. He asked us what we were doing and if we were part of a group that was riding motorcycles too fast in the nearby woods. I don't like living in a police state so I don’t want to see the National Forest teaming with law enforcement but I'd like to see it patrolled a bit more.

1 comment:

A Wild Celtic Rose said...

The budgets for the park and forest service get whacked constantly. It's a very small portion of the federal budget but cut deeply and often.

I used to work law enforcement for both the USFS and the NPS and even in the 80 and early 90s we were grossly understaffed.

The big cuts started in the 80s and only get worse each year.

That's why I don't work there any more.

And sadly, the behavior you cited is all too common.

It makes me crazy!