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.”

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.

The Rev. Dr. Myke Johnson
minister, Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church

The persistence of poverty reflects badly on our society

Shame on us – all of us!

A recent editorial headline in the Press Herald read: “Our View: Childhood poverty rate a disgrace for Maine” (Sept. 22). The Oct. 1 column by the president of the rightly esteemed Good Shepherd Food Bank (“Maine Voices: Reducing food stamp spending would fray lifeline for poor Maine families”) points out that a shocking one in four Maine children don’t always get enough food to stave off hunger. And this is before the proposed draconian cuts to food stamp programs.

While fewer and fewer rich Americans accrue more and more billions, more and more of the rest of us have less and less to share. One result: Millions of innocent American kids kids go hungry day after day.

What can we do? Short-term, give every cent we can afford to Good Shepherd and other programs to feed the hungry. Long-term, make it clear to elected officials at every level that we will never support or vote for anyone heartless enough to punish poor families and let their kids go hungry.

Can America the Beautiful ever fully meet its promise while one child goes hungry? Is Maine really “the way life should be” for the 15 percent of us who live in poverty or the quarter-million of us who depend on food stamps?

Norman Abelson

Reader asked to explain how he’d choose parents-to-be

(Editor’s Note: William Vaughan Jr.’s letter was mistakenly published twice, on Oct. 4 and 12.)

Amazing letter from William Vaughan Jr. of Chebeague Island (“Another View: To reduce childhood poverty, make would-be parents pass test,” Oct. 12). Equally amazing is the fact that the Portland Press Herald published it twice!

In his letter, he is responding to your editorial of Sept. 22 concerning childhood poverty in Maine (“Our View: Childhood poverty rate a disgrace for Maine”). He gives statistics regarding children in foster care and then proposes a solution: He would set certain standards that couples would have to meet before giving birth.

Interesting concept. Perhaps Mr. Vaughan would compose a follow-up letter explaining just how he would accomplish this.

Elizabeth Kolodin
Pemaquid Harbor

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