Out Loud: February 22, 2018

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I lied. Well, I didn’t actually lie because I fully intended to deliver that talk at the Idyllwild Rotary Club Wednesday, as I mentioned in last week’s column summarizing some of the talk, but as Tuesday progressed, so did some bug who decided to take control of my respiratory system.

By the next morning, a deep tiredness continued after waking, leading to a no-go text message to Tom Kluzak who invited me to speak, and a stay in bed that lasted off and on for three days. I never had a fever, just upper-repiratory issues — coughing, nasal, sore throat, raspy voice — and a great need to sleep. Rest.

Since we’ve been on deadline for the past two days and I’ve managed to stay away from most folk to keep from spreading the remaining bug, I don’t know what Rotary folk do when their speaker fails to show.

This energetic group wakes early every Wednesday morning to meet, eat (and cook, for some), kid around and plan great things to do for the community. And they listen for 10 or 15 minutes to someone talk with knowledge of a particular subject.

Most of these folk are retired, but I’m guessing that without this weekly get-together and the other things they do in their community, their lives would be much shorter. Volunteerism and laughter are said to both be life-lengtheners.

So, I’m sorry I missed this group but there will be other opportunities.

• • •

I want to note that with the cuts to the U.S. Forest Service proposed in the federal budget, the USFS is expected to develop partnerships with private business to provide services otherwise the USFS would normally provide.

It’s important to note, we being surrounded by national forest, that the budget justification emphasizes it will be “… increasing volunteerism, improving customer service, increasing partnerships and working to ‘right size’ recreation assets. This will encourage new businesses to support outdoor activities which will translate to jobs in rural communities and increase spending by visitors to the national forests.”

I’m wondering what those new opportunities might be.

Already, the USFS uses many volunteers to accomplish tasks such as trail maintenance, patrolling, wildfire lookout and even customer service. Will it be seeking more volunteers to fulfill other and more specialized duties?

Is the federal government planning to privatize the USFS? As an old-time, late Idyllwilder always feared, will Disney be managing our federal lands? She would roll over in her grave, if that’s where her remains are interred.

Having worked many years for the USFS in the past, I know its pay scale falls below similar jobs in the private, county and state sector, including professional and firefighter. So, does it make sense to turn over USFS jobs to private business?

And tell me, what does “‘right size’ recreation assets” mean?

Becky Clark, Editor

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