Do Things Change?

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Posted by LeRoy Johnson on August 23, 2004 at 16:09:15:

Below is one of the closing paragraphs from Mike Ward’s paper—“A ‘Native’s’ Viewpoint”—that he presented at the first Death Valley Historical Conference, February 8-11, 1987. Jean is re-editing these papers and volumes I and II will soon be reissued as a single volume.

As we proof read the paper, I was struck by the similarity of Mike’s words with many of the posts I’ve seen on this forum.

“The big issue that looms on the horizon for all people who know and love Death Valley is Senator Alan Cranston’s proposed legislation to make Death Valley a National Park and to add 1.3 million acres to its boundaries I worry about his proposal for a couple of reasons. One is that the Reagan administration’s fondness for guns over butter appears to have had a trickle-down effect in the local Park Service’s fondness for law enforcement over interpretation! Nowadays it seems easier to get a speeding ticket in Furnace Creek than to learn the difference between a creosote bush and a mesquite tree. I also sense a burgeoning Park Service identity crisis on whether to be or not to be the Sierra Club. Proposed plans in recent years such as the one to put the irrigation ditch that now runs from the Inn to the Ranch into pipes and tear out all the palm trees and other vegetation growing along it that isn’t “natural” so the desert can be “reclaimed” makes me wonder if various two-legged jackasses aren’t a greater threat to Death Valley than the four-legged variety.”

Mike worked for Fred Harvey (Amfac) and left the valley a couple (?) years after he presented his paper. We were all sad to see him move on.

Many of you probably know ‘our’ park is down over 40 permanent full-time positions. Things will probably get worse before there is a reversal of the current trend of pre-emptive wars so we can find and destroy weapons of mass destruction that might be mixed among the oil. LeRoy

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