October 15, 2013

Letters to the editor: Reporter sets poor example for readers

Slipping into a closed national park to roller-blade makes the rangers’ job more difficult.

A recent article by a Press Herald staff writer (“Cyclists, rollerbladers rule Acadia’s roads,” Oct. 6) described his experience roller-blading at Acadia (complete with video) even though the park is officially closed. His rationale, in part, was that “closed” applied only to motor vehicles and that if he was injured, he would be subject only to “self-rescue.”

A self-portrait by Staff Writer Glenn Jordan during his journey along the vehicle-free Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park on Oct. 3. While Jordan’s roller-blading in the closed park was undoubtedly fun, it also added to the workload of the skeleton crew of rangers there, a reader says.

Glenn Jordan/Staff Writer

My perspective is considerably different. As a former park manager myself, I’m aware that even when lands are public, visitors are still subject to reasonable regulations to protect the park itself and for their own safety. That safety is compromised when an interpretation of “closed” is a lot narrower than its intended meaning. “Closed,” after all, means just that.

It may be fun to roller blade on a traffic-free road, but one has to consider that that particular pleasure doesn’t occur in a vacuum, especially when one writes about it for a larger audience. It encourages other people to engage in the same or similar activities, and that, in turn, makes the job of a considerably reduced number of rangers at Acadia much more difficult.

Their unpopular mandate now is to enforce the shutdown enacted by Congress and do their best to safeguard the public. They can’t close the trails because there are too many, nor can they control the influx of cyclists. More importantly, they can’t react as quickly as they should in the case of accidents, and at least two of those have been reported so far.

It’s a fairly simple equation. More visitors plus fewer rangers equals greater danger and risk to the public. If someone gets hurt now and they are not capable of “self-rescue,” they will still call the rangers, who may – or may not – be able to respond.

No one’s happy about the shutdown, least of all Acadia’s rangers. Let’s not make their job tougher than it already is.

Don Loprieno

Waterfront proposal in line with earth stewardship effort

Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church recently passed a “Resolution to Protect the Health and Safety of Local Citizens, Water Bodies, and Other Natural Resources In Relation to the Possible Transport of Tar Sands Oil Through Maine.”

Why should faith communities speak against tar sands oil? For Unitarian Universalists, our relationship to the natural world is an integral part of our spiritual journey.

Our spirituality awakens our awareness of our connection to the earth, to each other, and to the Mystery at the heart of life that many call God. When we understand we are all connected, we realize the insanity of despoiling our own habitat, our sacred places, our very source of life.

Tar sands oil creates environmental degradation. First, it decimates the ecosystem in northern Alberta, where the oils are extracted, in large tracts of rare old-growth forests.

Second, tar sands oil causes more devastating spills than regular crude oil; Maine’s aging pipeline runs past Sebago Lake and other waterways we need to keep safe.

Third, tar sands oil extraction and use contribute catastrophically to global warming. We should instead be exploring alternative forms of energy and reducing the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

I applaud the citizens of South Portland seeking to prevent tar sands oil transport through our state, through the Waterfront Protection Ordinance, which would block oil companies building new vapor combustion units and other infrastructure to export tar sands oil out of Casco Bay. The vote is Nov. 5.

While this initiative is in South Portland, tar sands oil affects us all. We encourage other faith communities to have conversations about their own earth stewardship values, and take ethical action in support of our common home. There will be an interfaith weekend of prayer and action Oct. 19 and 20.

(Continued on page 2)

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