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Our national parks suffer over politics of a giant wall

By Peter Weinberger

 

President Trump’s decision to shut down the government until he gets a wall between Mexico and the United States continues to cause chaos in our country. Not only do 800,000 federal employees and their families suffer without paychecks, but 387 of our 737 national parks have been forced to close some because of visitors destroying the land the parks are designated to protect.

Making matters worse, the National Park Service (NPS) has closed its website that updates current conditions. If you are thinking of going, check the individual website of the park you want to visit.

One of the hardest hit national parks is also one of the most unique and beautiful. Yosemite had a tough year in 2018 with fires, bugs and thousands of dead trees. And although the park remains open, there are so many restrictions as far as where you can visit. At this point, it’s barely worth the trip. Problems remain with human waste—most bathrooms are closed—and trash is scattered around the park.

Over the past 10 years I’ve enjoyed taking pictures and video of Yosemite, like any visiting tourist. There’s still nothing more pristine than coming out of a mile-long tunnel to a classic valley view of Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls and El Capitan. Can you imagine John Muir’s reaction when he first gazed upon this incredible sight?

Needless to say I have a variety of images that have not been seen, mostly because I haven’t had a good reason to show the public. Yosemite is one of the most photographed national parks in the world, so it’s pretty hard to show a new angle or view.

Given what’s happening to the parks because of the government shutdown, I wanted to open up the vault and share some images with the hope that people realize the importance of caring for these national gems. 

These images can be seen in a video I produced and posted to the COURIER website, Facebook and YouTube pages. There will also be links to donate to the Yosemite Conservancy, which provides funds to care for the park, keeping it beautiful for all of us. These funds are critical because of the park’s large number of visitors each year. The link to the website is yosemiteconservancy.org.

New employee, familiar name

For those of you who have been watching COURIER videos, you may have noticed the name of our new employee. My son Matt Weinberger graduated from Virginia Tech in 2013 with a business and leadership degree. His undergraduate life was far different than that of his parents because he joined the Cadet Corp as a freshman.

Although Matt was on a civilian track (no military service after graduation), he was part of the Corp in almost every way. I vividly remember walking the campus with Matt in uniform while the younger cadets continually saluted him. I was one proud papa. Unfortunately, the COURIER staff never did embrace saluting the publisher!

After graduation, Matt surprised us and became interested in producing video (not quite sure how that happened) and set up a thriving video production business in Blacksburg, Virginia. But the call of Hollywood was too great to resist—and the calls from his mother—so he moved west to California just a few weeks ago.

We are lucky to have him working at the COURIER, even though we understand he will be moving on eventually to do his own thing. In the meantime, you will see Matt’s videos and photos as part of our regular coverage of Claremont.

Newsprint tariffs still have an impact

When we first learned of tariffs on Canadian newsprint early in 2018, it didn’t take long for our printer to announce price increases for printing the COURIER. Although they were reasonable about not pushing business-ending price increases, a tariff is a tariff, and an increase is an increase. Whatever you call it, it was more expensive to print the newspaper.

It took months before the United States International Trade Commission determined the Trump administration tariff was a ridiculous attempt to punish newspaper companies. The vote was unanimous to end the tariffs immediately. That was five months ago.

The problem is I’m still trying to get our printer to reduce prices to pre-tariff levels. So the rhetoric goes on while we continue to pay more to print your community newspaper. Or maybe it’s just time to find a new printer.