To the Editor:
Rutted trails. Crumbling buildings. Washed-out bridges that aren't replaced. Leaning signposts. When I hike into the wilderness at Olympic National Park, I' m dismayed to witness the continual deterioration of the trail system. Although trail crews cut out most of the logs that have blown down on the trails, little more is done to repair the ravages of nature. Trails need maintenance!
These trails were built long ago when there was a vision for every American to have access to the renewing power of wilderness, but lack of funding by Congress has left our National Park system starved for ordinary maintenance and upkeep. The National Parks are truly our national treasure, the crown jewels of our bountiful environment, and the remaining islands of our legacy of wilderness.
So I was relieved to read in the Kitsap Sun that REI and Mike and Sue Raney have combined to donate $3 million to help restore the trail system in Olympic and Rainier National Parks (Link to article). Not only will the donations help rebuild washed-out trails, the work will be done by young people working in a service corps. As one who worked on trail crews many years ago, I can testify to the character-building effects of this kind of work.
The crews in Olympic National Park will help restore damage to the trail to Enchanted Valley, one of the premier destinations for hikers in the park. Thanks, REI and the Raneys. May our trails never end!