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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 6, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Wilderness access: Maintaining national parks is a priority

State Sen. Linda Evans Parlette’s guest column [“Maintaining Access to Wilderness,” Opinion, Dec. 3] presents interesting arguments for opening a road in the Stehekin wilderness, which in one way makes sense to provide greater opportunities for wilderness visitors. On the other hand, I hope she understands that wilderness is, indeed, just that and excessive road and facility construction destroys the wilderness and it simply becomes another park.

At the same time, she takes a swipe at the National Park Service for its “failure” to not obey her wishes in a timely and prompt manner. Parlette should know the National Park Service has continually suffered budget slashing for years.

There are many other priorities for our national parks versus spending $1.3 million on essentially a road to nowhere. I was a seasonal wilderness ranger at Mount Rainier from 1995 to 2004, and I will be more than happy to show Parlette the degradation of the facilities, trails and infrastructure, let alone restricted personnel levels that limited budgets have caused to, as Ken Burns said, “America’s best idea.”

More than 1.6 million visitors come to Mount Rainier alone versus a few thousand to Stehekin — with or without a road. And there is, after all, a boat from Chelan that travels to the Stehekin wilderness daily.

It’s a beautiful trip — she should take it sometime — and she should even support adequate budgets for the National Park Service.

Thomas L. Westman, Seattle

Comments | More in National Parks | Topics: National Parks Service, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, Stehekin

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