By John Earl and Lisa Wells
“The last thing George said to me, ‘Rock,’ he said, ‘Sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper.’” Ronald Reagan speaking in the 1940 movie “Knute Rockne, All American.”
In 1971, California Gov. Ronald Reagan dedicated 3,000-acres of land belonging to the U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton as a nature preserve known now as San Onofre State Park. Speaking like a Native American, Reagan referred to the intrinsic value of the land. “One of the greatest legacies we can leave to future generations is the heritage of our land,” he said, “But unless we can preserve and protect the unspoiled areas which God has given us, we will have nothing to leave them.”
What Reagan left us is now the 5th most visited park within the the state’s 278-park system. Besides boasting the cleanest watershed in the region, it also houses endangered species like the Pacific pocket mouse, the arroyo toad, the southern steelhead trout, the California gnatcatcher, the tidewater goby and the least Bell’s vireo as well as the archaeological site, Panhe, a 4,000-year-old Juaneño Indian village. Popular campgrounds and world-renowned surfing spots such as Trestles are also part of San Onofre’s appeal.
But like the “Crying Indian” in the 1971 television commercial asking the public to stop pollution, Reagan might also shed a tear if he knew what was happening at his cherished park. (more…)