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Stephen A. Peterson
Two very beautiful, earnest young teachers, Lyn Jumawan and her friend Renee Webber of Lincoln Elementary School of Paris, Texas went to Oklahoma during the summer of 2004. They avoided all the tourist places desiring to visit only the real flavor of Oklahoma. They got it, too! Arriving in the McCurtain County Wilderness area, they set out to explore. Coming to a densely forested area in view of Broken Bow Lake, they removed their backpacks, set up their tent and were ready to clear a five square foot area to build a safe campfire. As soon as they used their entrenching tools to clear the space of leaves, twigs and a small sapling, they were suddenly pounced upon by a forest ranger and taken to a local police station. There the supervisor explained that their offense was the destruction of a blackjack oak sapling on public lands. There was a fine of $50.00 for any person caught doing environmental damage to a sapling tree.
The women protested that they were simply camping out and taking in the beauty of the Oklahoma landscape and had no intentions of doing any damage to any trees or part of the environment. In spite of their protest, the fine remained. Then the ranger supervisor had an inspiration. “The fine is $50.00 but if your buy the sapling, you pay only $5.00. Why don’t you buy the tree?” the supervisor asked. The women thought this a fine idea. For $5.00 they could take the tree back to Texas and plant the tree at their school as a memento of their strange but fascinating camping trip to Oklahoma during the summer of 2004.
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