Government says no to forest snacks

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2008

ANCHORAGE - The federal government won't be giving out snacks in the Chugach National Forest.

The Government Accountability Office has rejected a request by rangers to provide snacks for hikers participating in National Trails Day on June 7.

The event is designed to get people off their sofas and into the woods.

The snacks would have been "especially appropriate for hiking (including, for example, apples, raisins, dried fruit)," according to the request submitted by rangers in Seward.

It's not the government's job to bring the trail mix, wrote the GAO, in an opinion released Friday.

"Providing light refreshments to attendees of Trails Day does not contribute materially to the accomplishment of an agency function," the agency wrote.

The Forest Service can carry out other planned activities, such as guided hikes, "without light refreshments, just as it does at other times of the year and just as it has for previous Trails Days."

Food is a personal expense, the agency said.

"The public's money is not available for that purpose," said Susan Poling, associate general counsel of the GAO, the federal government internal watchdog.

"This is just one small, little area," Poling said "But if you think about it multiplied by every single agency, everywhere across government ... it sounds like a really nice idea to provide something for the children and the campers, but should the public's money be available for this purpose?"

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