Union Democrat staff

Blessed to live in Tuolumne County

To the Editor:

As anyone knows who has lived in Tuolumne County for very long, this is a community with a generous heart. That spirit was on full display the last few weeks to the thousands of men and women who poured into the county to battle the Rim Fire and provide support.

From the hundreds of homemade signs along roadsides, on fences, trees and storefronts, written on cars and driveways and hung from overpasses and businesses, to the impromptu neighborhood barbecues, potlucks and homemade baked goods fed to fire fighters, Tuolumne has opened its arms, its hearts and even its homes to this protective army.

For those on the receiving end, it was overwhelming and humbling. Homeowners who evacuated left their houses open so bathroom or sleeping facilities could be used by those standing a 24-hour shift. Firefighters were amazed when they were offered everything from free massages and haircuts to homemade meals, had their tab at a local restaurant picked up by strangers or were fed gratis by our eateries.

Even the visiting press corps were impressed by the open-hearted spirit of our community. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, reporter Tony Barboza was wrote of the "spirit of hospitality" displayed to emergency responders in the town of Tuolumne. He quoted a Ventura county firefighter who commented, "We really are just guys doing our jobs….just blessed to do it in Tuolumne."

And we are blessed to live here.

Lynne Jerome


Against critical habitat designation

To the Editor:

The Stanislaus National Forest has some of the most beautiful scenery in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I have hiked, backpacked, and ridden my horse in much of the Stanislaus over the past 40 years, and now I feel that access is highly threatened.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to list the yellow-legged frog and the Yosemite toad as endangered species and in conjunction with that, establish critical habitat for these amphibians They say that their demise is due to much of what humans have been doing within our Sierra Mountains, such as introducing trout, which by the way have historically been a part of the Sierras. They want to set aside areas of critical habitat in order to protect these frogs and toads when there is no proven reason to provide this restriction.

Much of the areas that I like to spend my recreational time in are located within the Stanislaus. I foresee that trails will be rerouted or closed, that many camping areas will be limited or closed due to this action.

Listing of these amphibians as an endangered species will have a real negative effect on recreational use of our dear treasured Sierra forests. Just in the Emigrant Wilderness alone, about 90 percent of that wilderness area is designated as a critical habitat.

Though this action would have little effect on private lands in the Sierras, it would greatly affect much of our public lands.

Let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service know that listing of these amphibians is something that need not be done. Let nature take its course and let humans continue to enjoy the beauty and use of our public lands here in California.

Send a comment to USFWS, Electronically: http://www.regulations.gov, enter FWS-R8- ES-2012-0100 in Docket Number.

Bob Magee


PML man grateful for fire efforts

To the Editor:

A couple of days ago, my wife and I were talking with some friends about the Rim Fire and our thoughts regarding the events of the last few days. The conversation turned to what we had lost and how minimal it was in our lives compared to what might have been had the fire gotten past the courageous firefighters and raged into Pine Mountain Lake, burning many of our homes. At some point it occurred to us that the biggest loss wouldn't be our material things but our way of life.

Life is very special here in Pine Mountain Lake. We are blessed with a beautiful landscape, many affordable amenities, and we all have many friends that we enjoy. We play games together regularly, we drink and dine together and many go to their place of worship and pray together. The devastation of a fire would force most of our friends and families out of Pine Mountain Lake in search of our own paths of refuge, relying on those we know outside. Most of us would lose contact with many or all of our Pine Mountain Lake friends as we struggled putting our lives back to some form of normalcy. Then, what about rebuilding one's house? Even if ones insurance would offer to rebuild your house on site, who would want to live in a place that is surrounded by charred landscape and fire gutted houses? Certainly not me. So in the process of relocating, temporary and eventually permanent, the wonderful social life we presently enjoy at Pine Mountain Lake would be lost forever.

Jack Leetham

Pine Mountain Lake