A developer in green clothing

Former member of the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission, founder of the Bidwell Park Endowment, and director of the Northern California Center for Sustainablility

While I normally respect your editorial viewpoint, I have to disagree with an item in your year-end summary about environmentalists being divided on access issues and park bond money [ “Reasons for hope,” Dec. 27]. It is just not true. Real environmentalists understand the need for limited access to pristine and semi-pristine areas, as there are so few left. The 1,300-acre Bidwell Park acquisition and the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve are just a couple of those areas close by.

Do not mistake Michael Jones for an environmentalist—he isn’t one. He is a developer, albeit a developer of trails, but he has a developer’s mentality nonetheless. According to him, no place is sacred; everyone should have access to everything regardless of his or her impact on it.

Under the guise of flagging his proposed dream trail (the Annie Bidwell Trail) through pristine areas of Upper Park, he and his family whacked brush and cut a trail far in excess of any reasonable concept of flagging. Now I hear he is flagging more of his dream trails. I surely hope that the Parks Department will not let him do this. He hasn’t even finished the other trails he has promised to build.

The Park Commission should provide limited access in and through the park acquisition, lest it become like the Upper Park on the north side of Chico Creek—thoroughly overrun and thrashed. Jones’ plan for Upper Park is to provide a trail so everyone has access to every inch of it. He has no problem with placing a trail through a vernal pool or other sensitive areas.

He and his wife Caryn have viciously attacked anyone who has disagreed with them at public meetings, in their letters to the editor, and on their Web site. His funding of city councilmembers’ election campaigns, and pandering to those whose campaigns he didn’t provide for, in order to gain their favor was readily apparent when he petitioned the City Council to reverse the Park Commission’s trail alignment because it wasn’t what he wanted. He and his wife were the only ones who disagreed with the Park Commission’s alignment! This was after a year of public hearings throughout which the Joneses refused to compromise on their alignment.

Please don’t confuse the Joneses with environmentalists. There isn’t a split in the environmental community on preserving our valuable resources. The more bond money we can spend on preserving our natural resources, the more I’ll agree to vote for it.