Animal rehab supporters are the ones playing politics

Opinion

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I would like to respond to Bill Dwyer's article in the Feb. 1 issue of the Wednesday Journal [Local group rips Trailside animal rehab closure].

As one who has interfaced with Trailside naturalists over the past 15 years and who has attended the Forest Preserve District's meeting regarding the Trailside Wildlife Foundation's proposal, I strongly support the FPD's management position to use Trailside's resources solely for nature programs, exhibits and outreach programming. After all, the sign in front says: "Trailside Museum of Natural History."

Education in natural history and conservation of habitat are the two most important tools in preserving our indigenous small animal wildlife. And Trailside is not an isolated facility. It is located within 300 acres of natural habitat along the Des Plaines River, an enormous resource. Therefore, the FPD's decision to concentrate their resources in education is not a political decision. It is, in fact, a means to provide the greatest return on the taxpayer's dollar.

The alternative which the politicians like commissioners Tony Peraica, Peter Silvestri and River Forest President Frank Paris support would, on the contrary, drain hundreds of thousands of dollars for an annual public subsidy to an unknown and untried foundation whose principals have no experience in education and conservation.

It is interesting that we have not heard Mr. Paris or Mr. Silvestri, who is also mayor of Elmwood Park, offer a single penny from the coffers of their respective municipalities to support this start-up foundation.

But the real politics here is the politics played by Commissioner Peraica who called the TWF, as stated in the article: "A well-organized, well-funded, local group willing to take and run Trailside without cost," when he knows this is absolutely not true.

They are not well funded and will require a large annual subsidy, ad infinitum. Additionally, there are serious legal problems that may require an amendment to the FPD State Charter.

Victor Guarino
Oak Park

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