Ask anyone who works for the government and they will all tell you the same thing: it’s amazing that we can manage to accomplish anything. The needlessly complex miasma of laws, rules, and regulations make even the simplest undertaking seem like an exercise in futility. Common sense solutions are often smothered in their cribs. Every proposal, no matter how benign, will reliably be opposed by someone.
(While the deputy commanding officer of a brigade in Iraq, I often commented that two most important officers in the unit were the lawyer and the accountant. I dared not do anything without consulting both, first.)
Imagine what it would take to build the John Muir Trail, today. I suspect it would be impossible, at least as it stands, now.
That is what makes the 187 words, below, all the more remarkable. This is the entire text of a proposed act, submitted to the California legislature on January 28, 1915.
APPROPRIATING MONEY FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A TRAIL IN THE SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAINS TO BE KNOWN AS THE “JOHN MUIR TRAIL.’
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
Section 1. The sum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated out of any moneys in the state treasury not otherwise appropriated, to be used in accordance with law toward the construction of a trail in the high Sierra region of California and connecting the Yosemite National Park with Mount Whitney and vicinity.
Section 2. The moneys hereby appropriated are to be expended under the direction of the state department of engineering and of the sum hereby appropriated, five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) shall be made available immediately and five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) shall be made available April 1, 1916.
Section 3. The trail to be constructed with the moneys hereby appropriated shall be known as the “John Muir trail” in honor of the late John Muir who has performed an inestimable service in making known to the world the wonders of the mountains of California.
Basically, this act tells California’s engineering department to build a trail between Yosemite and Whitney and spend no more than $10,000 doing it. Oh, and name it after John Muir. The text is as clear as a newborn baby’s conscious. At a very minimum, there is no need to pass the act in order to know what’s in it!
Good hiking, Ray
Simpler is always better. If we just did this in our government, we’d free up a bunch of money to deal with the real problems. Thanks for posting this…a reminder of how things should really work.
I’m sure there was a lot more going on behind the scenes just get that simple piece of legislation written. I’m also sure things aren’t as complex as today. I’ve been volunteering for years in the trail building community here on Maui. The last 4+ years alone, I’ve been working to build a new mountain bike trail system around a heavily used, multi-use trail so as to spread out the trail users and reduce conflicts between hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers, along with improving trail sustainability and safety. After a needs assesment and request for public comments, creation of a master plan in conjunction with a landscape architect, ensuring ADA compliance, writing an Environmental Assessment, then waiting for its review, more public comments, and approval, we got the go-ahead to move forward. Then there is the funding appropriations, compliance with competitve bidding rules, getting the Governor to sign off on the funds, and then waiting for the actual Purchase Orders to be released. But its worth all the hard work. In a few days, the tree trimmers go in, and next month, professional trail builders from IMBA and the USFS will get to work and by the end of August, we will have some fantastic new trails to experience. I almost wish I won’t be leaving to hike the JMT in the middle of construction…..almost, LOL.
All true, Russell. Good luck on this summer’s hike! (By the way, I’m on Oahu.)