<b>Excluding the poor</b>

EDITOR: One of our country's greatest ideas was our national parks, and the additional open space provided by state and county parks is extraordinary. However, I'm concerned that rising fees will limit access by people who are held in check by the costs.

Last month, my family went camping in Mendocino, and the rate was $45 per night. When my wife and I started camping there, the cost was a very affordable $16 per night. While the cost won't keep me away, I have noticed that campers have become more and more affluent. I'm not aware of the vacancy rates, but on that weekend it was reasonably full.

In Sonoma County, I applaud the Board of Supervisors working to keep our beaches free for all. In Southern California, some beaches charge $20 a day. There is no question about who is being kept away from our natural resources, and the elitism shows the divide in society. Locally, we have a great value in the yearly county park pass. That cost has gone up a bit, but it's still a great deal.

If our parks and open spaces aren't free and available, then people won't support that which they cannot visit.


Santa Rosa

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