Those who object to taxation in any form are fond of suggesting that those who don’t use a particular government service — say, libraries — shouldn’t have to pay for it. There are many reasons why that makes no sense — most of us never need to call the fire department, until our house ignites. But that doesn’t mean those who benefit the most from a public service shouldn’t help keep it going.
That’s the idea behind the National Forest System Trail Stewardship Act. Congress passed it in 2016 to identify the trails most popular with the public and get trail users and user groups to help maintain and enhance them. The Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest is holding an open house from 4 to 8 p.m. today at the Medford Interagency Office, 3040 Biddle Road, Medford, to kick off the local “All Lands, All Hands” program.
The concept of trail user groups pitching in on maintenance projects is hardly new, of course. Hiking clubs, Scout troops and others have been doing that for years. But this new effort seeks to coordinate those volunteer projects to help the Rogue-Siskiyou forest maintain the most popular of its 1,400 miles of trails.
That makes a great deal of sense when you realize that the forest’s dedicated trail budget for all those miles is just $110,000. Government at all levels faces rising costs and limited resources. If hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and snowmobilers can channel their combined energy to keeping their favorite trails open, everyone will benefit.