I like wandering around in the woods. it is resorative like nothing else. I think there should be more forests and park preserves and places where people can go and experience things that are not the byproducts of other people, but of nature.
A few years back, there was a conservative politician based drive to cut public funding from parks. Could it be that Conservatives hate public land because they can't exploit it? Anyway, as a result, there was an idiotic fee program put into place that made just enough money to pay for the people that had to be hired to drive all over the place and collect the three dollar fee envelopes from thousands of out of the way parking areas at trailhead parking areas. I always wondered why the amount was three dollars, which is an unlikely amount of dollar bills to have in your wallet. Thankfully, a lot of these fee boxes have been removed. Most people did not like the idea of "Paying twice," once on April 15 and again everytime they wanted to get away from the evils of town.
The biggest problem with fees is that you really never know where the money is going to go. I detested with all my being, paying the fee at the Chattooga river Wild and Scenic River, knowing full well that the money went straight into the general coffers of the National Forest Service. Nothing was spent on the Chattooga river. All it needs is to be left alone. They said the money would go toward better parking facilities or trails or something. Of course there weren't any parking lots that came close to being filled up and some of the trails were actually obscene intrusions into the wild areas which became degraded as a result. So what was the money for? How about "I don't know" for an answer.
Now, Tennessee has a fee at any number of State Parks. It is fairly low but it's a fee nonetheless. It collected just under a million bucks last year. Governor Bredesen knows the fee is unpopular and has now proposed to eliminate it. Well folks, I never thought I'd say this....I'm going against the Governor. I don't think we should eliminate the entrance fee.
"What!" you say.
Keep the fees...but tell us exactly what the money will be spent on. Actually...I'll tell you what the money should be spent on.
Collect the fee at the entrance to our State Parks and Natural Areas and use one hundred percent of that money to...
Buy more land for State Parks and Natural Areas.
If the State of Tennessee had an extra $300 milion bucks, we could have the best Parks and natural areas in the country by buying parts of the Bowater Land that is up for sale and there are other tracks of similar importance. We have a phenominal ecology in this state, but we're losing it fast. Well we don't have $300,000,000.00. But, there's a way to throw another penny or two in the pile and that is to keep the park fees and earmark the money.
There really is no other way to stop sprawl and development. We have to buy the land, or conservation easements of some sort.
So what do you say, folks? After all...All we have to do is act naturally.