To the editor: Instead of lamenting the renaming of Mt. McKinley to Denali in Alaska — a place far removed from any of his actual accomplishments — those seeking geographical recognition of President William McKinley's environmental record can find a more meaningful one here at home in our own backyard. ("It's back to Denali, but some McKinley supporters may be in denial," Aug. 31)
Unbeknownst to many, McKinley and successor Theodore Roosevelt were largely responsible for the creation of the Los Padres and parts of the Angeles national forests. Both presidents visited these forest reserves, and after his assassination, McKinley Mountain in Santa Barbara County was so named for McKinley, setting aside 1.8 million acres of public land for its environmental protection.
Roosevelt added another 1.4 million acres to the preserve, first named the Santa Ynez Forest Preserve and later the Santa Barbara National Forest. Theodore's cousin Franklin then renamed the forest to its current name.
Recognition of McKinley is alive and well in our local forest, itself twice renamed. What matters more than the name is McKinley's contributions, which are the longer lasting.
Roy Harthorn, Santa Barbara
To the editor: If President Obama wants to make a legacy by renaming mountains, he should have started with Mt. Rainier, the highest peak in Washington state. It is currently named after a British Navy captain, Peter Rainier Jr., who fought to suppress the American Revolution.
The name should be changed back to one of its original Native American ones, which include Tahoma, Tacobeh, Pooskaus and others. "Mt. Pooskaus" has a particularly nice ring.
Any traditional name would be appropriate and would remove the disgrace of honoring someone who fought against the United States.
Joel Amkraut, Los Angeles
To the editor: It's amusing to see how some lawmakers from Ohio, many of whom regularly tout states' rights when it comes to healthcare and education, harshly criticized the White House for renaming a mountain in another state at the request of that other state's lawmakers.
Why not let Alaskans name their mountains — and let Ohioans name their landmarks after McKinley or anyone else from their state?
Brendan Huffman, Studio City
To the editor: American state, American president, American mountain: case closed. Alaska is cordially invited to secede, however, and so name everything according to local custom.
S.R. Willen, Beverly Hills