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Editorial: Forest Service, public treat N.M. like a toilet

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It’s hard to decide what’s more offensive:

♦ The fact the U.S. Forest Service would resort to locking latrines and toting off trash cans to highlight its budget situation, or,

♦ The fact the people who visit the Santa Fe National Forest believe its OK to defecate on the ground and throw trash to the wind.

According to a spokesman, the Santa Fe National Forest has yet to get its final budget allocation for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1, making it hard to plan spending. But according to the laws of nature, when people hike into a wilderness area there’s a good chance nature will call.

So label the Forest Service’s decision to lock outhouses and pull trash bins as what it is: a childish “we’ll show them” maneuver designed to create as much literal discomfort and public outcry as possible.

And label the users of Pecos Canyon as what they are: the opposite of responsible hikers, backpackers, hunters and anglers — heck, the opposite of people raised with basic manners and hygiene — who know to pack out their trash and cover their waste.

Hugh Ley, who represents the Upper Pecos Watershed Association and the Pecos Business Association, says Pecos Canyon was full of picnickers last weekend — picnickers who left trash and human waste on the ground that could pollute the water and pose a health risk. “We’ve been busting our butts to enhance the area, improving the stream structure to create better fishing,” he says. “And now the largest partner in the whole damn process says it’s not going to put trash cans in day-use areas.”

That’s bad enough. Even worse is that if there’s no government-funded trash can or toilet, New Mexicans treat their state like one. So much for your tax dollars at work. And so much for the Land of Enchantment.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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