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Marin IJ Readers’ Forum for May 5, 2024

Marin IJ Readers’ Forum for May 5, 2024

Park’s funding shortfall is directly related to ranches

I am sympathetic to the concern for the budgetary health of Point Reyes National Seashore, as expressed by Jerry Meral in his recently published Marin Voice commentary (“Lack of income is pushing Point Reyes National Seashore into disrepair,” April 24). His proposed parking fees are modest. However, I don’t understand why he separates the money issues in the park from the ongoing ranch controversies.

First, two problems mentioned in the article — erosion and invasive plants — can be attributed as being partly caused by ranching. A third issue, deterioration of “historic farmhouses,” can be attributed, in some degree, to ranchers’ failure to maintain structures, as is required by their leases.

According to park data, maintaining ranches in Point Reyes costs the National Park Service around $1 million a year. This figure omits the opportunity cost of the significantly below market lease rates, as recently reported by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility organization. PEER’s research shows that if the park service raised the lease rates to market, fees for pasture would quadruple and the price of housing would skyrocket beyond that.

Meral rightly points out that the National Park Service budget is lean. In fact, for fiscal year 2025, the proposed allocation is $3.57 billion, which is less than the 2024 amount and just under the amount of U.S. military aid to Israel in 2023.

Despite this difference of emphasis, I wholeheartedly support Meral’s conclusion: “Point Reyes National Seashore is Marin County’s single most important asset. It needs to be restored to the greatness it deserves.”

— Ken Bouley, Inverness

Dangerous e-bikers can be slowed by speed bumps

As a frequent biker and pedestrian on Larkspur’s multi-use pathways, I have had more than my share of close encounters with throttle electric bikes driven by teenagers. I don’t scare easily, but have felt my heart rate go nuts as a kid whizzes by at close to 30 mph.

While I salute the recommendations by the Marin County Civil Grand Jury (“Marin grand jury urges stronger e-bike restrictions for youths,” May 1), I am skeptical regarding its effectiveness. Do our local police forces have the personnel to patrol pathways and sidewalks to slow down violators?

It seems to me that the only practical way to slow down these e-bikes (as well as speeding bicyclists who refuse to call out when passing) would be to install speed bumps. People will likely say the riders may just go around the bumps on the grass but that still reduces their straight-line speed.

Speed bumps have been effective at slowing vehicles near schools and on kid friendly neighborhood streets. Why not at least try it on a stretch of multi use pathway.

— Michael Sillman, Larkspur

Get started early to plan for a healthy life

I am writing in response to the recently published Another View commentary by Dr. Celine Gounder and Dr. Craig Spencer (“Decline in American life expectancy harms more than our health,” April 27). The comments importantly emphasize the need to focus on public health prevention of disease and disability.

As a pediatrician who has spent his career in public health, I think it is crucial to emphasize the basic concept of primary prevention. As the authors emphasize, it’s important to provide services to prevent and treat diseases that occur during adulthood.

However, in order to maximize the longevity and well-being of adolescents and adults, preventive service must start much earlier. The successful achievement of optimal adult health outcomes requires system organization and service delivery before pregnancy (with family planning), during pregnancy (with prenatal care, nutrition and safety, to name a few examples) and around delivery. It also requires a major focus on early childhood.

Supports and services must include timely immunizations, nutrition, dental care and early disease prevention. They also must focus on early child development — including parent-child connections, safety (car seats and seat belts, for example), environmental supports (like lead-poisoning prevention) and appropriate exercise.

Primary prevention continues during adolescence in areas of nutrition, immunizations, safety and sexuality/family planning.

It is much easier and cost-effective to prevent disease and disability than to wait until adulthood and try to fix what’s been broken over many years.

— Dr. Peter Michael Miller, San Rafael

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