Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Pulling in our horns?
Fat Tuesday began with a fine jazz concert at the VOR's place of employment, and moved to Grumpy's Bar with a five buck Guinness pint-keep the glass-pre St Pats promo. There was optimistic talk about the first Apostle Islands trip of the year in early April and the fact that last year's first campsite still had picnic table high snow on it. And I still got home in time to catch The Speech.
With massive federal dollars heading in all directions, its going to be tough to avoid 'drunken sailor in the whorehouse' spending no matter what anyone says. These are our dollars of course, or at least those of us on the 'producer' side of the equation. I joined the members of the audience who hooted in derision when President Obama stated that all earmarks had been removed from this bill. That being said, I think that more than a few cutbacks (best of luck on cutting those agricultural subsidies, origin of the term 'pork barrel') need to be made in addition to the deluge of federal manna from heaven. I read an interesting opinion piece in the St Paul paper about a couple of possible axe worthy programs that are administered by the National Park Service and it provoked some interesting discussion.
We apparently have NPS administered National River and Recreation Areas and the National Heritage Areas. I don't believe I've ever been to a National Heritage area but apparently I live in a National River and Recreation Area, the Mississippi NRRA. The main thing that always amazes me is the convoluted mish mash of overlapping jurisdictions on these things. Were I ever to get the nerve to execute my anti cliff jumping ban protest at St Croix Falls on the Wild and Scenic St Croix River, I could be arrested by any one of a number of agencies. NPS LE personnel, St Croix County sheriff, Chisago County sheriff, Taylors Falls city cops, St Croix Falls city cops, Minnesota State Patrol, Wisconsin State Patrol, or DNR personnel from Minnesota or Wisconsin. Somehow, that makes no sense and I'm from here! Imagine trying to explain this to a foreign visitor. My Irish cycling buddy, BobbyPaul from Cumbria, Northern England, was in the country on a cultural exchange a few years back. I was showing him northern Wisconsin sites like Madeline Island, the Reefer Creek deer camp, Apostle Islands sea caves, and Patsy's Bar in Washburn. One of the things that amazed him, along with attractive female bartenders and "bloody huge lorries", was that very same jurisdictional concept. As a proud member of the Cumbria Constabulary, he found it difficult to comprehend why we needed a half dozen agencies doing pretty much the same thing. The discussion was prompted as we drove through the soverign nation of Bad River and I told him that if he got pissed off and decided to punch me that he could be arrested by at least 7 or 8 different agencies.
In our very own Mississippi NRRA we have well over a dozen city, regional, and state parks and historical sites along the river. Coon Rapids dam, Islands of Peace, Boom Island, Historic Mills District, Ft Snelling State Park, Pike Island, HIdden Falls, and probably a dozen more I've forgotten. What value does the National Park Service add by making the area a NRRA? And who the hell is in charge of what? Rather than a bunch of signs proclaiming the Mississippi NRRA and a lovely visitors center in the science museum, I guess I'd rather see the couple million bucks (a small rounding error in the billions we're debating nationally) go to my buddies up in the Apostle Islands, Voyageurs, Isle Royale, or Pictured Rocks.
Read the article and let me know what you think; I would find it very interesting to hear some other opinions. And please contact your national elected officials and plead with them to let me jump off those cliffs in Interstate Park once again. I'll be careful, I promise!