Destroying The San Bernardino Forest & Mental Health
Into the third month of a six month tour in Lytle Creek and the past three days have been brutal. When I worked as a full time lifeguard, I often heard from those that have never lifeguarded, how easy of a job it is and I am in the sun all day, just relaxing etc. Well obviously folks that say things like the above mentioned, have never worked in managing crowds of people in the sun and triple digit heat for 10-12 hours a day, day after day.
Working as a Forest Protection Officer(FPO)/Rec Tech for USSF in Lytle Creek, CA is very intense and draining. Hundreds of people most who only speak Spanish, who have no concern for safety, life, limb or the environment or the FPOs visit Lytle Creek on any given weekend. Patrolling the creek, we are greeted with mostly frowns and scowls, although FPOs are not law enforcement officers ( L.E.O), we are viewed as police. The big disadvantage to us FPOs is we are unarmed and outnumbered about 1000 to 1 on any given day and if you have broken the law to enter the country and their is no consequence, then any other law such as illegal burning, campfires, stealing, and litter just to name a few are of no concern. Most of the patrons just act as if there is no signage or they lie and say they did not know etc. Really you did not know you are not allowed to defecate in the creek, destroy the National Forest property, graffiti on rocks and other natural features and cook meth in thee forest? Well perhaps Trump is correct in his assessment of unlawful residents culture being inferior. Trump’s choice of words could have been more diplomatic yet Trump is no diplomat. Honestly how do you describe a person’s training that defecates in the water supply while a bathroom is 500ft away? Inferior is apt and to the point. Look I understand exactly why these sort of habits persist as the country they came from does not have adequate sanitation systems. Again inferior is a word apt to describing much of south of the U.S border systems and yes much of the culture. I would say defecating in the latrine and throwing the used tissue in a pile inferior, as I would allowing your child to defecate and urinate in the corner of a bathroom rather than using the toilet also inferior. That is all for now as to Trump and his vernacular and style as I got something in the works for ya’ll very soon as to Trump and unlawful immigration. Oh crap were was I did I say crap? Whoops.
Many of us work these gigs in the National Forests as we enjoy helping/caring and serving people and we enjoy and care about the forest. The wanton abuse and destruction of San Bernardino National Forest, especially Lytle Creek area is very taxing psychologically. Depressing to be precise. While patrolling the creek bed, I watched several toddlers defecate in the small stream as their parents watched, down stream as well as upstream hundreds of people do the same while also polluting the H20 source in a myriad of other ways, such as dumping garbage and food directly in the stream. These folks who mostly live in the city below (Fontana) are oblivious to the fact they get their drinking water from the very creek they are polluting. As I hiked up the stream with my partner, a toddler of about 1 and a half years old tottered on the rocks and debris in the stream, his young father 25 ft away, just then the toddler fell face first into the water. Lucky for them I was their to prevent the drowning removing the toddler from the pool of water ( the patrons illegally damn up the stream bed to make pools to play in.) Today after an extremely brutal day of patrolling, putting out camp and bon fires, enforcing camp, fire and in 100 degree heat, hiking in rocky terrain with hostile patrons, The very next day I am tasked to clean up (garbage etc) in Bonita Falls/Middle Fork and other areas. During the clean up, the illegal dumps, small mountains of garbage, spray painted rocks, carved up trees and other destruction got to me. Feeling very depressed and tired I had to remind myself I am doing my best to help the people and forest. The job is seasonal and will soon be over and I can apply for another duty station. It is very important to realize what I am thinking and the immediate emotions are not always fact. First of all I prayed to God to help me. Secondly, I returned to HQ, drank water and ate some food. These actions are self care and awareness of state of emotion and mind. I also told my supervisors how I was feeling and they were very understanding. I was allowed to take a trip up to a more pristine part of the forest and do some surveying and maintenance over on that mountain top and road. It was a needed and thoughtful break from grinding in the Lytle Creek canyon.
My advise is to you, first of all you may not understand a persons job and it may be more stressful than you know. Secondly be mindful of your thoughts and the emotions from the thoughts, Often they are not true and require careful examination and testing, such as is it true or am I mind reading or reacting to emotions rather than pragmatic reasoning. Finally seek God for answers and help maintain a spiritual healthy relationship with Jesus, take good physical care of yourself, get proper rest, nutrition, and exercise. These things will get you back on a healthy and safe path to success and well being.