Forum Index > Trail Talk > Poll: Do Northwest Forest Pass fees support USFS trails?
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When I buy a Northwest Forest Pass, I expect this part of the fee supports trails:
Over half
42%
 42%  [ 12 ]
More than half
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Over 25%
21%
 21%  [ 6 ]
More than 1/4
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Over 10%
7%
 7%  [ 2 ]
More than 10%
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Over 5%
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
More than 5%
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Over 2%
3%
 3%  [ 1 ]
More than 2%
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
At least 1%
14%
 14%  [ 4 ]
Less than 2%
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Less than 1%
10%
 10%  [ 3 ]
Total Votes : 28

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RodF
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 6:31 pm 
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Hikers, when you buy a $30 annual or $5 day-use Northwest Forest Pass or $80 interagency pass before parking at USFS trailheads, what fraction of your fee is actually spent on trails?
Although the local forests summarize the projects paid for by fees here, they don't actually spell out separately how much is spent on maintaining trails, trailheads, campgrounds, roads or other facilities.  It appears to vary greatly from forest to forest.  Regionally, about half of fee revenue ($5.5 of $10.9 million) is spent on maintenance, and most of that on campgrounds and trailheads.

Olympic National Forest

A recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Olympic National Forest revealed:
FY2017 $24,652 of $639,569 = 4% on trails
FY2016 $0 of $651,075 = 0% on trails
for an average of less than 2% of fee revenue
going to trails (all of that for staff planning and compliance overhead, none for actual trail work).

Olympic NF's Fee Program Accomplishment Highlights of past years list these trail projects:
FY2015 <1% paid for gravel which volunteers spread on two trails
FY2014 paid WTA crew leader $26,600 of $382,376 = 7%
FS2013  <1% paid for gravel volunteers spread on one trail
FY2012 ?% "supported volunteers"
FY2011 ditto
FY2010 ?% materials and tools for WCC trail crew
So although it has varied from 0% to 7%, it appears on average less than 1% goes to actual trail projects on the ground, and less than 2% including staff office overhead goes to trails.

Does this match your expectations when you buy a Northwest Forest Pass?

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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Pahoehoe
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 6:41 pm 
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I thought the forest pass was to pay for frontcountry services... pit toilets, garbage cans and picnic tables?

That's why you don't need a forest pass at trailheads that don't have 2 of those 3 things?

Something along those lines, I'm pretty sure.
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Jeff
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 6:45 pm 
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I stopped paying for those years ago.
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 6:46 pm 
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Is it the percentage you want to go towards trail maintenance, or the percentage you think goes towards trail maintenance?  Unfortunately I believe the difference between what I want and the reality of the situation is vastly different.
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Bernardo
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 6:57 pm 
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I think the choices are confusing.
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Brushwork
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 8:53 pm 
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So, when the forest pass was first proposed, where was the money intended toward?   Wasn't it in part, to support trails? ( not just trailheads...)  I don't actually remember.

In answer to the question, no it doesn't fit my expectation.

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When I grow up I wanna play.
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schifferj
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 9:20 pm 
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I'm not educated enough to make a guess on the poll but I did do a little on line research and came up with the following article which makes for some interesting reading.

https://www.wta.org/go-outside/passes/federal-land-fees-where-does-my-money-go

What I CAN attest to is what it costs should you forget to hang your tag. The "fine" was $24 the "processing fee" was $50. The whole cost was mailed to some company back east which I assumed kept the entire $50.
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Cyclopath
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 9:33 pm 
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What's the difference between over half and more than half?   confused.gif

Do fire expenses count as trail maintenance?  Probably not but a big fire can shut trails down for years.
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vibramhead
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 9:54 pm 
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Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, a forest pass can't be required at a trailhead unless it contains certain amenities, including developed parking, permanent toilet, information kiosk, picnic table, trash receptacle, and site security.  But the fees collected may be used for a broad range of activities that enhance the visitor experience, including trail maintenance.

The Act provides that fees may be used only for:

Quote:

(A) repair, maintenance, and facility enhancement related directly to visitor enjoyment, visitor access, and health and safety;
(B) interpretation, visitor information, visitor service, visitor needs assessments, and signs;
(C) habitat restoration directly related to wildlife-dependent recreation that is limited to hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, or photography;
(D) law enforcement related to public use and recreation;
(E) direct operating or capital costs associated with the recreation fee program; and
(F) a fee management agreement established under section 6805(a) of this title or a visitor reservation service.
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Sculpin
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 7:56 am 
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When the pay-to-play forest passes were first proposed, an opposition group formed.  (It was long enough ago now that my memory is fuzzy.)  That group stated that it doubted that the revenue would be used as claimed, and if it was not used as claimed, the group would sue.  Some years later, there was a brief article in the Seattle Times (IIRC) stating that the group had found that indeed the money was going to general forest service revenue and that there would be a lawsuit.  Then I never heard another word about it.  Can anyone fill in any details?   confused.gif

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Even my best friends, they don't know, that my job is turning lead into gold. When you hear that engine drone, I'm on the road again, and I'm searching for the philosopher's stone - Van Morrison
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vibramhead
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 8:06 am 
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Sculpin wrote:
When the pay-to-play forest passes were first proposed, an opposition group formed.  (It was long enough ago now that my memory is fuzzy.)  That group stated that it doubted that the revenue would be used as claimed, and if it was not used as claimed, the group would sue. 

You might be thinking of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition.  I don't know whether they ever sued about diversion of fees to general funds.

I don't oppose a fee that actually goes to trail maintenance.  I think one of the problems with how the money's being used now is that USFS isn't allowed to charge a fee for trailheads that lack amenities like toilets and picnic tables.  So, to enable them to charge a fee, USFS builds toilets and installs picnic tables, which hikers don't really need.  But those trailhead amenities must eat up a lot of the available money.
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Navy salad
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 10:47 am 
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Bernardo wrote:
I think the choices are confusing.

Me too! Even though I admire the intent here, the poll choices need some clarification ("At least 1%" vs "Under 2%"?) and elimination of equivalent options.
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Kim Brown
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 11:03 am 
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Sculpin wrote:
Some years later, there was a brief article in the Seattle Times (IIRC) stating that the group had found that indeed the money was going to general forest service revenue and that there would be a lawsuit.  Then I never heard another word about it.  Can anyone fill in any details?

Not sure if this is what you're talking about, but Oregon's Biscuit Fire prompted taking NWFP money for fire fighting (not General Funds). It was paid back later (I don't recall how much later).

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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iron
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 11:42 am 
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no surprises here. it's just like the good2go program wsdot farms out.

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man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

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RandyHiker
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 3:05 pm 
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Seems like a bit of a "Loaded" poll question.
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