Opinion

Please, leash your dogs and your anger | Letter to the editor

It’s human nature; when a privilege we are accustomed to is taken away from us, our most primitive responses are triggered.

Full-grown adults are reduced to childish reactions.

For example, dog owners who for decades have enjoyed the freedom of letting their dogs run loose on South Beach within the National Park, have come to believe it is their right to do so.

Enter stage left: Chief Ranger Barry Lewis.

Fresh from Haleakala National Park in Hawaii, he was hired last year as a Level 1 Commissioned Ranger at American Camp National Historic Park. This position requires him to wear a 20-pound “duty belt” including a pistol.

Despite his friendly face, the outfit doesn’t endear a warm and fuzzy presence.His first  assignment?

Stop the dogs from running loose, and stop  the feeding of foxes at American Camp.

Barry, an experienced ranger with over 20 years in the National Parks, did his best at what he was hired to do.

He put up new signs and for the first three months talked to dog owners and wrote warnings.

He explained the regulations, the reasons for the regulations, and the fact that he has no authority to alter the regulations. The regulations are the same in every National Park.

During the summer, one unfortunate interaction with an angry dog owner led Ranger Lewis to make an arrest. This action was held up in court.

Barry has since been the target of unremitting unleashed anger, some of it from people he has never met.

We believe we live in a friendly place where locals are reasonable and kind; a place where we respect the historic and natural values of our National Parks.

Please, lets extend a warm island welcome to Barry Lewis and his partner, Marianne Karraker, who also works for the park.

Ranger Lewis invites people to make an appointment to come into his office, as we did, and hear about the programs he would like to implement at American Camp and English Camp.

He offers a Ride-Along Program, and  encourages people who use the parks to join as volunteers.

Liza Michelson/Shaun Hubbard

San Juan Island

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