National parks need careful budgets, not more fees

I read with great interest your article on entrance fees for federal lands ("In the great outdoors, resistance to rising fees," Aug. 21). Having recently retired from more than 11 years of living and working in one national park with fees, I can make one solid, realistic comment:It's not about having more money - it's about using budgets efficiently.

The real story is one of how much money is squandered by the National Park Service. Once we quantified and understood what percentage of every dollar is wasted, we would think twice about ever handing over another cent. It is unfortunate that the public's general perception of these federal agencies is one of environmental care and concern.The truth is endless in-fighting, inefficiency, lust for annual funding, and lack of concern for the guests who hire these people as custodians of our land.

While parks make the case that every revenue dollar is needed for deferred maintenance and repair, I can tell you from personal experience that the assets were never managed appropriately from the beginning, but were allowed to fall into disrepair.

Warren G. Tracy Prescott, Ariz.

Forage a path to conservation

Ed Hunt's opinion piece ("Why children must forage," Aug. 6) was thought-provoking, memory-awakening, and logical.When I was 6 or 7, my big sister and I would take adventurous walks down our street and come home with bags of penny candy and tales of encounters with butterflies, birds, neighborhood cats, caterpillars, and occasional mosquitoes.

I never before made the connection between these early experiences and my current conservation sensibilities.But now I'll remember those happy times each night as I rinse out cans and bottles to add to the recycling bin.

As my husband and I survey a homesite in preparation for construction, I remember that an "inconveniently" placed tree is home to a woodpecker.I suppose that I'm working to save this tree because of those happy foraging experiences. How well Mr. Hunt awakened the connection!

Deborah H. Thompson Naples, Fla.

Adopting adult pets brings relief, hope

Animal advocates deal daily with suffering caused by the disposable-animal mentality of a nation that kills over 5 million pets each year. Elizabeth McGinley's piece "Puppy Love, Kitty Love" (Home Forum, Aug. 20), with its focus on animal adoption rather than purchase, its slant toward older animals, and its discussion of the considerable responsibility involved in caring for a pet, gives us hope. She ended her essay with her daughter's suggestion that the cat, Montrose, was the answer to the girl's prayers. Her article was the answer to ours.

Karen Dawn

Founder of DawnWatch

(Dawn Animal World News/media Watch)

Pacific Palisades, Calif.

The civic duty of being penny-wise

Saving the penny is no problem with me ("Making a case for saving the penny," Aug. 15). After years of filling piggy banks and coin wrappers, I decided to spread my change in all of the pairs of pants I wear regularly. Now I have to be careful not to spill the change when I hang them up at night, but whenever I get dressed, the change is already in place.

If women would remember to bring their little coin purses and use them (who cares if people behind us are impatient when we search for pennies?), we will do our civic duty and solve this problem of accumulated change.

Henry Rutledge Davis, Calif.

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