Back in November, 2014 I wrote a blog about Casey Nocket.
She was the roving Bimbette who painted bizarre scenes in America's western National Parks and Monuments. She wasn't applying her acrylic paint to canvas. No! She was vandalizing the rocks instead. She took photos of her "works" and placed them on Instagram. Obviously, she wasn't a Valor Victorian at Stanford.
Her posts elicited outrage on the social media scene. She pissed off a lot of people by dissing the places we love. It was a response she didn't foresee. Eventually, the Clueless One was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service.
As far as I'm concerned, she skated.
So...the other day, I took a hike in Zion National Park's Hidden Canyon. It's not really hidden since there's a marked trail there. But, it's still a cool canyon just the same. It was early and shadowy. All I heard were the sounds of my trail runners padding along the sand and rocks. Perfect! That is until I noticed #hiddenfreedom17 scrawled along a red-rock wall. Hmmm! That sucks. I took a photo of the crime scene to show and tell the NPS about it ASAP. Unfortunately, the graffiti was just beginning. The idiot art show spanned about 100 yards. I shot more and more pix, collecting evidence as I made my way up canyon. Crap! I was having such a wonderful morning too! I felt violated along with the canyon.
A day earlier I was partaking in the sixteen-mile West Rim trail. Like so many trails, I see them once a year like old friends. All was good in my World until I saw piles of soiled toilet paper. Nearby was unmentionable human produce. What is wrong with people?
Sure a New York City's amount of taggers and improper poopers are a nasty problem to our Nation's Wild Places. But wait! There's a more insidious attack about to occur. It comes from the enemy within.
It's the 2018 proposed Federal Budget. A nauseating and ruthless 12% cash slash to the Department of Interior. This includes the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
For the sake of blog brevity, I'll concentrate on the NPS.
Here's the NPS's noble Mission Statement: "The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world."
It's hard not to like this outfit. The Park Service has been called America's best idea and invention for a reason.
These proposed cuts come at a time when the NPS's stock is on the rise. Record numbers of visitors (331 million in 2016) paid a call to their 409 National Parks, Monuments and Battlefields, their 23 Scenic and Historic Trails and their 60 Wild and Scenic Rivers. The NPS has a large plate. If that weren't enough these Good Guys provide financial and technical assistance to our 49 National Heritage Sites. The proposed budget would eliminate that program. The damage wouldn't end there. The NPS already has a $12 billion maintenance backlog. With this slash and burn budget, things will go from bad to worse.
Now, there's a new Sheriff in charge of the Department of Interior.. His name is Ryan Zinke. He is a President "You mean Central Park isn't a Wilderness Area?" appointee. When at first pressed on the issue of budget cuts, he said he would be kicking and screaming at the thought. Now, not so much. He went Trump Toady, and said the $1.5 billion cut would be a tax savings.
Mr. Zinke, that is an alternative fact.
The tax $ is going to be reallocated to the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs (no complaint from me on that one).
America the Beautiful is being sacrificed to America the Badass.
The concept of beauty goes beyond the "Ohhs and ahhs" of skin deep. A country should be judged on how it treats its elderly, poor, handicapped and undereducated. Kudos go to countries who consider the non-voting elements: fish and wildlife, environmental issues such as clean air, water and uncontaminated soils.
I cringe at the thought of an increased Military budget to the detriment of education, the environment, arts and humanities, proper housing and urban development, our wild lands and forests and Federal grant money for scientific research and development.
Why are we building up our Military to protect this dubious Fox Network News notion of the American Way of Life? A Society based on fear and a "Watch Out for the Other Guy" mentality. Will the US become a soulless nation of strip malls, Big Box Stores, McDonalds and subdivisions? Are these superficial things worth fighting or dying for?
True Greatness isn't measured in shiny new tanks, fighter jets, aircraft carriers or multiple Mother Of All Bombs. It's about leaving this land/country in tip-top shape to our future generations who have yet to open their eyes or take a breathe of (hopefully) clean air.
We owe that much to them.
BTW. When I win the Presidency in 2020, it will be the "Greenest" Administration since Theodore Roosevelt's.
The only thing Green about this current Administration, is their awareness that it's the color of money.
Happy Earth Day,
PS. Take note Casey, the last photo is art and not graffiti. See the difference?