Friends of Cougar

Conversation with Maria

Cougar Hot Springs: Paradise Imperiled


By Greg Thorne - Wednesday 4/6/05 9:30am

I just got off the phone with Maria Jensen. Maria has been cleaning the pools since 1999 under contract and visiting the Hot Springs for more than 20 years. It was our first conversation since I was able to confirm the FS plans last night.

Maria first heard rumour of the Hoodoo plans from Lionel, the guy watching the parking lot about 3 weeks ago. She called Mary Allison. In a return phone call from Mary Allison, the District Ranger confirmed their plans. Maria feels sorry that she was remiss in not telling others, since Mary asked who else she should inform.

Just last Thursday, Jerri asked Maria if managing the Hot Springs was something she would be interested in doing. We find this calls into question how recently FS made the decision or if they had not even informed Jerri. My questionaire to Mary or my next phone call to reach Mary should also answer this. What I do know is that I immediately informed Mary via email that Friends of Cougar wanted to manage the Hot Springs. That was last Friday. So we acted quickly and I don't think we missed the opportunity out of our error. I assume at this point that FS just acted without realizing the hazard in not including public participation. As Spruce said recently, the key is "Public participation in managing public land."

Maria is VERY upset about the idea of Hoodooo managing Cougar. She knows from experience that the Hot Springs is as nice as it is because of "loving stewardship." Taking care of the rock work, cleaning the pools conscientiously. She doesn't do the hard work of cleaning them well just because she's getting paid. She cleans them so well because of how much she loves the Hot Springs. And I believe tens of thousands of other people also deeply love the Hot Springs.



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