November 28, 2005

Not preserved well

San Bernardino Sun
Voice of the People

The article by Chuck Mueller ("Preserve provides visitors with history," Oct. 30) concerning the Mojave National Preserve, was very good, as far as it went. But, it was incomplete in some areas and inaccurate in others.

The restoration of the Kelso Depot is a nice achievement for the National Park Service. But while it was ongoing, the Park Service, under Superintendent Mary Martin, has been destroying most of the heritage left by miners, ranchers and others. Some of the things destroyed were 100 years old and older. Private-property owners and even visitors have been harassed, intimidated and coerced by park rangers.

The Mid Hills, one of the mountain ranges not mentioned, encompasses thousands of acres in the preserve. Within it are the only campgrounds in the preserve. Table Mountain, at 6,176 feet, and Pinto Mountain, at 6,144 feet, are within this mountain range. Also within this area are three or four thousand acres of private property, most of it in Round Valley, which was consumed by wildfire in June. In all, 70,000 acres were burned, including homes, a few vacation cabins and trailers. Most of the desert residents feel the Park Service did little to contain this fire or protect private property.

The article says 500,000 visitors a year come to the preserve. Surely, this is a joke, since this would be almost 1,370 people a day. I have spent 24 days in the preserve since May. Most of the time, I was at Hole in the Wall Campground, when only a few people visit at any one time.

I understand there are 42 employees in the preserve, but they are mostly invisible from what I see going on, except for the fire personnel at Hole in the Wall Fire Station. I was there for 11 days in October, and not a weed or a bit of cleanup or campground maintenance had been done since I last visited in May.

I hope to see a comprehensive report on the Mojave National Preserve and what is really going on, and how our tax dollars are being wasted.