Editorial: Residents step in to keep services open

Take a look at the parking lot at the Robert Frost Interpretive Trails and you’ll notice something you might not have considered before: It’s plowed. But not by the government services that typically keep it open. A community-minded local association is helping keep it open.
Here’s the brief story:
The Robert Frost Trails, including the way station picnic area just up the road on Route 125 in Ripton, are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service, within the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area that spans parts of Ripton, Salisbury, Goshen and Leicester. As we all know government services for these past four weeks have been on lock-down, courtesy of a president who thinks extracting tax money from your paycheck and mine (the wall will cost billions and it’s not going to be paid by Mexico) to keep a campaign promise (“build the wall”) is more important than a functioning government.
Never mind that the campaign promise was a memory trick to keep the president from talking about himself, that illegal immigrants and illegal drugs come across at security points far more frequently and in greater volume than across the barren desert (with or without a wall). We all know that building more wall that we already have is not an effective solution, but it’s become a line-in-the-sand for this president and his base. So rather than accept the $1.5 billion Democrats have recommended to strengthen points of entry — where we know the bulk of the illegal drugs and human trafficking transpires and where we could reduce the amount of illicit drugs entering the country — we have the longest shut-down in the government’s history.
So, while Trump fumes, farmers can’t get the necessary paperwork done for all kinds of federal subsidies and grants necessary for their operations; business is stymied when permits and grants can’t be processed; whole industries are hobbled, and federal workers are either furloughed or being asked to work without pay. Even parking lots to wilderness areas go unplowed while the president keeps the government from functioning.
Locals do pitch in where they can (as a story in today’s paper shows), including in small matters such as plowing out a few parking lots. In the case mentioned above, it’s the Moosalamoo Association — a nonprofit group that oversees the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area — that has stepped up to fill the gap. Goshen board member David Sabatini has volunteered to keep the parking lot to the Robert Frost trails open, as well as Widows Clearing further east on Route 125 for snowmobilers and backcountry skiers looking to use those trails toward Lincoln or Goshen. And Sabatini says he’ll try to get to a few other trailheads within the MNRA as best he and the association can.
The story here is not so much to champion locals for pitching in (though that’s certainly commendable), but to note the extent of federal services. Government services are important in our daily lives — from food safety to transportation security to health and well being in thousands of ways; even plowing the parking lots we use to access the backcountry or simply enjoy a wintry walk.
For the president to shut government down as a political tactic to get his way over a misguided campaign promise is the height of stupidity and arrogance. For Trump and the GOP to believe it’s essential he stick by such a hollow promise demonstrates how feeble and shallow his presidency has become.

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