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Vandalism an issue in Eastern Sierra

September 8, 2008 |  8:55 am


Of the fire that destroyed the Schulman Grove Visitor Center at the entrance of Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, reader Carol comments, “That visitor center was beautiful, a place for people from around the world to learn about the oldest trees on Earth. I loved visiting the center as it was a beautiful little building set amongst the old trees. This is senseless and shameful.”

How true. Especially considering the suspicious timing. In recent weeks there have been numerous acts of vandalism throughout the Eastern Sierra region, of which motives remain hazy.

They include smashed vehicle windows at trailheads, among them South Lake, Leavitt Meadows and Big Pine Creek. The Sierra Wave radio station reports on its website that the White Mountain Research Station atop its namesake peak was "trashed and covered with gas, but not set on fire."

Law agencies, which over the weekend were still investigating the cause of the fire, are trying to find a pattern. One resort concessionaire, who did not wished to be named, told me that many locals are worried these might be acts of eco-terrorism related to controversial political issues, most notably the Wilderness Bill, which threatens to close large portions of the White Mountains to off-road vehicles.

That concessionaire, who opposes the bill, is worried he'll have to sleep in his high-elevation cabins "until the snow comes" after they close for business next month, to protect against break-ins and arson.

This hardly sounds like the idyllic Eastern Sierra paradise I’m familiar with. Here's hoping they catch the misguided person or group responsible and prosecute to the fullest. This type of activity is dangerous and benefits nobody.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Though idyllic, the Eastern Sierra region seems to be plagued by vandals.

Credit: Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times