Hiking Is Not A Crime; Bull Moose and Titmouse

The bull moose and the titmouse.

“As a result of his 1903 visit to California, Roosevelt was to create the Santa Barbara National Forest out of the Pine Mountain and Zaca Lake Forest Reserves. This was the land that McKinley had set aside on March 2, 1898. … later known as Los Padres National Forest.”

Walker A. Tompkins, The Yankee Barbarenos

Has anybody checked President Teddy Roosevelt’s gravesite since the Forest Service closed our forest? That dark day of infamy.

He must be spinning faster than a whirligig in a Cat 5 hurricane. 

Roosevelt created Santa Barbara National Forest, later to become Los Padres, someday to become Condor

He also created the Forest Service.

The same Colonel Roosevelt charged about on horseback amid the flying lead in the Spanish-American War of 1898. “The great day of my life,” he said of combat.

In his speech of 1899, “The Strenuous Life,” he called on Americans to stand strong in the face of toil and hardship and to not shrink from danger.

President Roosevelt began:

. . .I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

And President Roosevelt finished:

Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.

The same President Roosevelt shot in the chest in 1912 while standing before an audience gathered to hear him speak. 

“I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot,” Roosevelt told the crowd.

He parted his jacket to show a bloody shirt. People gasped.

 “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose,” Roosevelt said still standing.

He then delivered his planned speech, with a new ad lib intro.

“Fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet—there is where the bullet went through—and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.”

These days the chief ranger of Roosevelt’s Forest Service, Christopher J. Stubbs, insists we shrink from some purported danger lurking in the forest that he refuses to identify.

This is incomprehensible.

If the public is facing such a terrible threat that it requires a two month closure of the forest, backed by threats of incarceration, then it is incumbent on Stubbs to specifically identify this purported threat to the people.

He must do this.

Or he must end the blanket closure or implement a more intelligent, finely-tailored policy that allows a much greater degree of freedom of movement for the public within the public lands.

No more stretch-to-fit vague and meaningless generalities banning access to wide swaths of country. We know it’s not true.

Stubbs created this problem with the blanket closure. If Stubbs fails to address this problem in a meaningful manner, it will do further damage to the reputation of the Forest Service and further erode legitimacy and trust. He must apply a patch to the hole or it will get bigger. 

What would Teddy Roosevelt say about the timid two month forest closure and the people pushing it under false pretenses to supposedly protect it and public health? 

That a man cannot walk in the forest. That combat veterans returning from foreign wars are told the forest is too dangerous to “go into.”

What happened to the backbone of the United States Forest Service?

They’ve gone all wobbly on us.

No worries. We’ll take point and keep marching to higher ground. 

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5 Responses to Hiking Is Not A Crime; Bull Moose and Titmouse

  1. edsafaris says:

    Again, well said.

    So, in 1969 we had major rains, slides, etc. The roads were closed, sort of mostly, because they were impassable. So as young men we hiked all over the upper SY River drainage to see what we could see of the creeks and rivers and changing landscape. Closed? No way. Inconceivable.


  2. Bill says:

    Yes, I agree. A two month closure is crazy. Two weeks maximum.

  3. The forest is calling and I must go says:

    These freedom stealing restrictions continue to get worse and worse with the Los Padres each year. To close it for my health is safety is like telling me pigs can fly. We let people smoke, drink and go sky diving because this is America the land of the free. You can go ice climb Mt Whitney right now, or rock climb El Cap, but No! you cannot enter the Los Padres! You can’t even look at the river where Los Padres workers are literally driving across because it is “destroyed” and “you must leave or else!” Too many people are going with the flow about this and saying things like, “if it wasn’t closed there would be too many people needing to be rescued”.

    Another false claim is that they will open it after assessing the damage. The forest goes through changes everyday all times of the year. Land and rock slides don’t only happen during rain storms, and they simply wont be able to identify all the recent changes because the Los Padres is MASSIVE! One doesn’t have enough time in their life to see every corner of it. All these false claims for keeping you healthy and safe still won’t protect you from the dangers that are going to still be present in the spring when they say they might open it again. The cliffs to fall off will still be there, same with the rattlesnakes and ticks. Don’t forget about heat stroke either. I guess those things aren’t a greater risk than the lush flowing creeks, green hills and cool temps we have right now. A $5,000 fine and or up to 6 months in jail seems like the risk for my health and safety, not enjoying the raw planet we humans thrived on for most of our existence.

    People get into trouble everyday in a million different situations. Trying to round up everyone and ban them from massive areas of public land will not change the fact that life is dangerous and we will all eventually die anyway.

    The closure will not keep me out, but it creates an unnecessary obstacle for me to go around.

  4. Roosevelt sounds like he was an amazing man – I wish today’s politicians were more like that but I don’t think any are!

  5. Reaseaorg says:

    Hopefully Stubbs is clear on the reason for not letting people into the woods. Access to public spaces should be facilitated where possible to promote receipt of all the benefits nature has to offer 🙂

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