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Web letter by Bill Widdifield: Campground closure a stealthy operation

I am writing in regard to Frank Gray’s Feb. 14 article, “Campsites’ closing is death of a ‘tradition’.”

I confess I have to chuckle in regard to the Department of Natural Resources statement that “they are surprised at how little reaction there has been” regarding the closure. If it were not for the fact that a friend of mine happened to be at the check station at the Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area in mid-December and saw the notice of the closing, I doubt any discussion would be taking place.

That is the thing that bothers me: Why did the DNR choose to post this in December at the check station only? It may have been on a DNR website, but none we could find. They finally made it public on Feb. 12.With a posting at this time of year, very few people would be aware – not a lot of folks camping in December. Works out pretty well for a March 1 closing.

It seams all too often these days decisions are being made by tax-supported officials with little input from the taxpayer. There is a sign at the entrance to the 12,000-acre property that says: “This property paid for by hunters, fishermen and trappers for the enjoyment of all”; that property includes the campground. Excise taxes from the sale of hunting and fishing equipment, firearms and ammunition pay for that property and most of the salaries of the DNR.

This little campground has operated for almost 50 years – probably never made any money (nor do I think it was intended to). The DNR in the last 15 or so years put in self-contained restrooms, five handicapped-accessible sites, a dump station and two years ago paved all the gravel roads. Now it has become not economically feasible to operate, and we will pay someone to dismantle 50 years of tradition.

I think someone just decided they didn’t want to deal with it anymore. That is fine (I wish I could have done that on my job); just quit blowing smoke up my nose.

The shooting range really doesn’t make any money. At least the campground made $12,000 (so they say). Speaking of shooting, with the spike in firearms and ammunition sales, maybe we could keep the campground open long enough to get some taxpayer solutions. Leave the fire rings. I can bring my own water and my own Porta Potty.

BILL WIDDIFIELD

Fort Wayne

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