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Paving paradise

Posted: Thursday, Sep 26th, 2013

In the ‘70s, there was a song that lamented, “They paved Paradise, and put up a parking lot.” That may soon be a theme song here in Sublette County, concerning our beautiful Fremont Lake Campground.

My husband and I were hiking near Fremont Lake last Saturday, and we decided to hike into the far end of the campground to see how the construction was going. This area has always been dear to our hearts. Each year, we gather all our kids and grandkids for a weeklong campout. We try to get site No. 29, as it has room for our camper, a big tent, a great campfire area under huge majestic trees, and trails that lead to a beautiful sandy beach where we park our jet skis. Last year, our son got married there.

So I was sickened to discover that campsite No. 29 has been destroyed. Sites 28, 30 and 31 are gone, too. (Many people think these were the best sites of the entire campground, especially since they were some of the few sites that had easy lake access and great views of the lake.) Dozens of trees are gone. The paths to the beach are gone. All these have been replaced by a … road.

We looked at a few other areas, too. So many trees have been bulldozed we didn’t recognize it. One huge area close to the entrance was cleared, and it looks like it will be – like the song says – a parking lot.

I was dumbfounded, appalled and angry. Who at the U.S. Forest Service decided that bulldozing dozens (hundreds?) of trees, wiping out prime campsites and eliminating trails and beach areas could somehow be construed as “improving” the campground? I am willing to bet that this genius has never lived here and has never camped at Fremont Lake. Once again, the federal government has made decisions that affect us without our input and we are stuck with the consequences.

If you, like me, assumed that the “construction” project for Fremont Lake Campground would consist primarily of fixing the roads, shoring up some eroded areas, etc., prepare to be shocked. Oh, I know it’s not done yet. And I’m sure some people, mostly out-of-towners, will be happy they can now pull their 36-foot campers to the far end of the campground just so they can turn them around on the big loop road. (They can’t drive down there to camp. There are no campsites there now.) But those of us who live here and used to love taking an evening drive for a barbeque and a little solitude out at the campground – well, things will be different.

“Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”

The sign says “Closed for Construction.” It would be more accurate to say, “Closed for Destruction.” Personally, it feels more like Desecration.

For the complete article see the 09-27-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 09-27-2013 paper.

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