General => Rock Climbing: Trad => Topic started by: steven cooney on December 11, 2003, 08:28:09 AM

Title: national forest user fees
Post by: steven cooney on December 11, 2003, 08:28:09 AM
     The strained relationship between climbers and land managers has influenced many climbers and adventure enthusiasts to endorse and embrace the user fee pilot program in the NH White Mountain National Forest.
    Unlike public lands such as national parks which utilize designated entry stations with a fee, national forests such as the WMNF are surrounded by state parks and property which can be accessed by public roads.  The fee stations create a great deal of confusion for many folks who use both state land and national forests.
    Studies have demonstrated that the pilot fee program has had a most serious impact on the recreational use of public lands by individuals and families who rely heavily on the use of these lands for a recreational outlet.  Low income families.
    The national forest has traditionally been a fantastic recreational outlet for low-income families.  User fees, even small ones, have been shown to significantly decrease the use of the forest by this population.  
    Endorsement of the forest fee program by the RCA, climbing guide authors, and individuals, could have a terrible effect on many other populations in our local community who use and need national forest lands for recreation.  
    Steven Cooney
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: DLottmann on December 11, 2003, 09:23:57 AM
Has the Forest Service ever "ticketed" someone for not having their sticker?  I bought one 2 years ago and never got around to sticking it on my truck and have never been cited.  Just curious as to if it was being enforced or not...

As for climbing organizations supporting land managers, I think we as climbers need to stay on the good side of those who manage the land we use.  Let the RCA support it, and you decided personally whether you will buy a pass.
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: ccclimber on December 11, 2003, 09:31:37 AM
Personally, I'm for the fee program.
I know the access fund is against it. Had this discussion before and this is my only reply to this thread
I think it's $2 or $3 a day, $20 a year for the parking pass.
What do you think they spend on say smokes for the week?
But having a degree in sociology, it peaks my curiosity.
I know i'm gonna regret this but who did the study?
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: DLottmann on December 11, 2003, 12:58:59 PM
I would like to know exactly where my $20 a year is going.  Specifics.  Not just "maintaining the WMNF".  Does that include helping build the Highland Center?  Negotiating square miles of WMNF land for forestry?
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: t-rad on December 11, 2003, 01:35:54 PM
Without apology, I have, and will continue to refuse paying these fees.  I feel they are unfair.  Instead, if additional funding is necessary, higher impact activity should be targeted for higher fees, such as snowmobiling, and logging.  

I would like to know what additional funds are necessary, and why this money can't come from additional funding from Congress instead of passing the burden to recreational users.

Steven is right on.  Considering all the money the Federal Government spends unwisely, I believe providing free recreational use of the National Forests for the low impact activities should be policy.  Steven's excellent point about lower usage of the Forests by lower income families is enough to convince me that the system is broken.

Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: radair on December 17, 2003, 05:41:07 AM
I only have a couple answers.

Yes, people get ticketed. At least I did. $50 fine for not paying a $3 fee? I fought it and lost, had to pay $35. I'm the only person the guys at the USFS Saco District have ever heard of getting ticketed.

The Highland Center is privately owned by the AMC. No USFS funds were involved.

It's a double-edged sword. Congress won't fund sufficient money, the FS needs funding to operate. I'm not in favor of the fee program, but I understand why it's in place.

Do 16 hours of trail maintenance in the course of a year and you get passes for free!

Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: tradmanclimbz on December 17, 2003, 05:59:11 AM
radair has a good point. Don't just spray about what a great backcountry hardman you are and go on about your right to protest the fee's.  Go do some trail work and get a free pass.  the fact is that as a user group we put wear and tear on the trail system therfore we should contribute back into the system. I know the argument is that you allready paid taxes for that purpose but get real. Wake up and smell the freaking coffe boys and girls. All our tax money goes for bombs and payoffs etc so if you want to have decent well managed outdoor recreation you might just have to cough up either a little extra dough or some effort. 3 bucks a day for a whole carload is a good deal. What we should realy protest is the high price of national park entrance fee's. there should be a better ballance in that department for sure. maby a few less wars and a few more bucks twords the park system.
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: Schandy on December 17, 2003, 07:11:03 AM
     I tend to agree.  While I do pay the fees reluctantly, I still pay them. Its not a whole lot of cash, but it can add up.  I too have no idea where the money is going, but I pray that a small portion of it trickles back to the actual area it was collected from.  
    I think doing 16 hours of trail work is a great thing for the climbing community.  We get to improve the areas that are relevant to us as well as show the national park service that we are good stewards of our resources.  Maybe if more climbers started working on trails the forest service wouldn't see climbing as a high impact pursuit.  I'd rather pay a little more to play in a well cared for forest than play in a abused woodlot for free.  
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: DLottmann on December 17, 2003, 09:16:02 AM
I have heard of gross negligence on the Forest Service's part with their allocation of funds from both the government and fee programs.  For example, outfitting rangers with new Ford trucks on a yearly or bi-yearly basis, rather than researching what can be done to help some known endangered species have a better chance at survival.

Where do I pick up me free pass?  Over the last year I have hiked a few hundread miles in the Whites, conducted plenty of "light" trail maintence, and carried out probably 50 lbs of trash left from other users.  I also stress LNT to all my hiking and climbing partners.  I want to organize a group next Spring to fix/build the trail at Humphey's (I admit I don't know the 1st thing about it, but am looking into it).

Just because it is called the "Forest Service", does not mean they are doing the forest service.  They are a goverment agency, which is run more like a corporation every year.  The individual rangers are not to blame.  I think the higher ups have agendas that are not always ethically the best thing for the WMNF.
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: tradmanclimbz on December 17, 2003, 10:15:24 AM
I tryed to cordinate with the forest service here in VT to get permission to rebuild a trail that they had abandoned and then closed. It took over a year of phone tag before we finaly  had a meeting  on site. the meeting had arready been postponed from Nov. to may. It snowed and I was the only one there who wore hat, gloves and winter boots. the meeting ended up happening in the freaking parkinglot in the forest service Jeep without ever walking the site.  They estimated that it would cost at least $85,000 to rebuild the trail which is less than 1/4 mile. they also refused me permission to do trail work without doing an enviornmental study first. ::) Ever since that fiasco I call them the forest Circus. I still pay my 3 bucks when i go to rumny though.
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: DLottmann on December 17, 2003, 10:37:45 AM
Ever since that fiasco I call them the forest Circus.

That being said I will not "cough up" any of my cash for this (IMHO) un-ethical fee program and will continue to give back to the Whites in more personal ways that I see fit, and that I believe may have a better impact on the environment.
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: ed_esmond on December 19, 2003, 06:55:43 AM

While i can't speak for the RCA or any guidebook author, I can explain why I choose to pay the USFS Recreation Fine (oops, i mean, "Fee....")

But, just because I,ve chosen to pay the Fee, it doesn't mean I think it's a good idea or a rational way to fund the USFS.  I can't imagine any sane, intelligent person thinking it's a reasonable plan.  Even the USFS employees I've spoken with don't think it's good idea.

Apparently, the only people who think it's a good plan are the big "outdoor recreation corporations" (Disney, Curry, etc.) and conservative Republicans in the US Congress. Obviously, these politicians idea of fighting "big government" is to cut "quality of life" spending (like the funding for the recreational programs of the USFS) and to increase spending  on foreign adventurism (like invading a bunch of oil rich countries and then to give huge multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts to large corporations to "rebuild' the invaded lands...)

However, since the fees are the ONLY way the local ranger districts have to pay for maintenance and upkeep of the recreation use of the forest; I,ve decided to buy a yearly pass.  The local district has no other way to pay for much needed recreational services that are required by law.  (Remember, the USFS is required by an earlier law to provide  multiple use of the forests they manage even if Congress doesn,t give them the funds to actually do so. Recreation is one of the five proscribed  multiple uses. )

Since the local ranger district has been supportive of the efforts of the climbers at Rumney; I believe buying the Pass allows me to support the local Ranger District and their work.  It seems to me to be the best  political solution to an immediate problem; it,s an fairly easy way for the local climbing community show it,s support and appreciation directly to the local USFS Ranger District.

Do you think it would be a good idea for the local community, after the local Ranger District had shown a great willingness to work with the climbers and sign a unprecedented  Memorandum of Understanding, to turn against the local Districts sole source of funding?

Considering the apparent affluence of most climbers I,ve met; the cost is fairly nominal ($20 a year is less less than the cost of a quick draw... and is certainly much less than the cost of an ice axe or rope.)  While it is true that many lower income users will be turned away from the  National Forests; I hardly think most climbers will find the cost excessive.  For example, the  required fashion statement Prana beenie costs twice as much....

The concept of charging recreational users of the National Forest is most assuredly wrong; but the law will only be changed when enough pressure is brought on the US Congress to change the law. So it is important to write to your local Senator and Congressperson and to the heads of the Subcommittees of both Houses of Congress that oversee the USFS telling them of you opposition to the Fees.

However, negative confrontations with the local Ranger District will only decrease the good relations that both the local climbing community and the local District have worked hard to maintain.

Sincerly, and with appologies for the length of my reply:

ed esmond
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: tradmanclimbz on December 19, 2003, 05:48:33 PM
Excelent  opinion. Why rock the boat at rumny?  Pay the stinkin 3 bucks and keep the rangers happy.  Protest the fee at a higher level (your congressman)
Title: Re: national forest user fees
Post by: Tomcat on March 18, 2004, 11:14:19 AM

   When the Forest Fees were first in place, lots of people got tickets, Some people fought them and won because there was a flaw in the way the law was written, or at least that's what I heard, but you had to go to federal court. In the beginning they used propaganda from a survey, but you could only get a copy of the survey if you bought a pass, so that is like taking a survey at Sears and asking"do you shop at Sears?" and then advertising that everyone shops at Sears, you should too.

  The program got a lot of resistance in the beginning and as I understand it it is still in a trial phase where Congress will review it again. So the cunning buggers stopped giving tickets for now, which means Congress stops getting input from people who do not like the program, since they are not getting tickets. Now that the resistance stops the Forest Service will be able to convince our elected officials that we do not mind paying to use our own land, and they will make the fees permanent and the tickets will begin again.

   As I have said before the single largest private sector supporter of the fee program is Disney. The campgrounds have already been privatised, because the USFS operated them at a loss, the forests on the whole operate at a loss too, can you see where your forest is headed?

   I urge people to resist the fees, and instead to vote for officials who will fund the national forest program through tax dollars. The USFS budget is about 3 billion dollars and only 10% goes to recreation.