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San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust
Nonprofit Organization 501(C)(3)
Tax ID # 33-0700417                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

SBMLT in the News

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Right Soluton, Wrong Source

  • Thursday, January 6, 2011 12:00 am

    Mercifully, the Royal Rangers saga has finally come to an end. After years of frustration, our community, which by a large margin opposed the development of a 50-acre adventure camp in Twin Peaks, at last got what it wanted.

    The news last week that the Assemblies of God, the parent organization of the Royal Rangers, had decided to abandon the project that stirred so much anger and opposition was welcome indeed.

    That the land is being sold to the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust for what trust officials anticipate will be its eventual inclusion in the national forest is equally gratifying; our San Bernardino National Forest is already the most densely populated preserve of its kind in the nation.

    While we welcome this news, we're sorry that the proper resolution had to come from the private sector, and not from the officials we elect to make wise and proper decisions on our behalf.

    We understand why, what with facing a lengthy and expensive court battle to defend the county's approval of their project, the Royal Rangers threw in the towel. After all, even if they'd won, the Rangers would have had to spend dollars paying lawyers rather than developing the camp. Moreover, they would only have hardened local bad feeling against them.

    It's better, they wisely recognized, to back away from continued controversy and focus instead on their laudable primary goal of exerting a positive moral influence on the lives of young men.

    We congratulate the Royal Rangers and the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust for crafting a reasonable, right solution to a festering community problem. It's a way out from which everyone benefits.

    It's instructive that it was private citizens, and not elected leaders, who solved the problem, underscoring once again that not every meritorious, helpful outcome originates with government.

    While Americans seem to be acknowledging that truism more and more on a national level these days, we're disappointed it extends to our local government as well.

    Hindsight is inevitably 20-20, but we don't think it should have taken Solomonic wisdom or clairvoyance to recognize that the Royal Rangers' Twin Peaks property was simply the wrong place to build a project that, situated elsewhere, could have been a welcome local addition.

    We've heard the story-county supervisors had no choice but to approve the project, or a lawsuit would have been filed. But guess what, folks; they approved it and a suit was filed anyway.

    If the Royal Rangers backed away from their project because they believed defending a lawsuit was too costly and too contentious, mightn't they have reached the same conclusion about prosecuting their own lawsuit to its conclusion?

    Conceding for the moment that county supervisors would have invited a lawsuit by rejecting the project, we contend there are situations where it's worth risking being hauled into court for doing the right thing.

    It's clear to us that a project posing the obvious evacuation, noise, density and other environmental problems that dogged the Rangers' plan should have been turned down at the supervisors' first opportunity.

    The planning commission said a unanimous no to the project; the supervisors should have followed their lead.

    The lesson here, we believe, is that if a project is fraught with problems, the first duty of county officials is to protect the community that would suffer from them, rather than trying to keep the county out of legal hot water.

    Even the hottest of water will become tepid, and harmless, as time passes and truth emerges. Though our county supervisors were unwilling, or unable, to recognize the truth and act accordingly, at least some unelected folks managed to get it right, something for which we're grateful