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The Forest Service giveth, the Forest Service taketh away. I guess the recreating public is supposed to be grateful at the most recent announcement that "more" trails have opened in the vicinity of the Dry Lake Hills after the tragic and wholly unnecessary Museum Fire. Well I for one am not at all pleased, because the paltry few additions to what is available to outdoor enthusiasts comes with a big fat caveat.

You see, the closure order has now been extended for an entire year, restricting access to the heart of the area until October 2020. I get that the Forest Service is reluctant to let hapless citizens into the burn area, fearing no doubt that one of us will be injured or killed by a falling tree, leaving our loved ones to engage the services of a lawyer skilled in extracting million dollar judgments from government entities.

But I am a big boy, eminently capable of looking after myself, and I acknowledge the risks I take each and every time I venture out onto public lands. I don't care if the trails are ready for prime time, and I am not looking to do anything foolish or particularly risky. I simply want to get out and see for myself just what is and what isn't left of my backyard.

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ERIC SMITH

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