Mountain 'Jeopardy'

Talking about his recent purchase of more than 35 acres in the Hollywood Hills (Hot Property, March 18), "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek is quoted by Times staff writer Ruth Ryon: "We'll have to cut off the top of the mountain to make a pad, but that's the kind of thing I enjoy doing." With that comment, Mr. Trebek has placed himself squarely in the camp of the environmental despoilers known as Mountain Croppers.

Today, dozens of Mountain Croppers from large tract developers to Forest Lawn, and individuals such as Trebek, are ignoring sensitive development alternatives, and are busy at work cutting down mountains and ridges, and filling in the valleys of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Collectively these Mountain Croppers may well be threatening the entire eco-chain throughout the Santa Monica Mountains, and the damage they are causing is irreversible. With time and money, new forests can be planted on deforested land, oil spills and toxic dumps can be cleaned up, stream habitats can be restored. You can't restore the mountains!

The remaining native wildlife of the Santa Monica Mountains has been continually forced back into the deep canyons and highest mountain ridges. The massive grading employed by Mountain Croppers such as Trebek is obliterating even this habitat, and it is still an open question whether the birds and animals of the chaparral hillsides east of the San Diego Freeway will survive in their ever more restricted and fractured habitat, or face mass starvation and extinction.

When the mountain is gone, and Mr. Trebek completes his "Monster" house he should lock himself up in it in shame.



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