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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Brushwork
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 4:02 pm 
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Thank you for the info Vibramhead.

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Bernardo
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 4:07 pm 
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Money can't really be ringfenced.  It's fungible.  The real questions are how much of the Forest Service budget should derive from user fees and how high would fees have to be to hit that target?
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docj78
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 7:27 pm 
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The real question, is why do we pay taxes to the Federal Government, but then they turn around and charge us additional fees to recreate in Public Lands, aka Land We All Own?  rant.gif
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 8:23 pm 
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So, we'll put you down for 0% for fees.  That's not a bad choice.
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Merlin
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PostThu Nov 29, 2018 9:32 am 
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Sorry - but the question 'does the NWFP support trails?' has no room for opinion. The fact of the matter is yes it does - none of the sales are designed to profit from the public. ALL of the sales support trails primarily through trailhead kiosk/restroom maintenance and for FS recreation department funds. These additional funds help offset the ever decreasing FS budget (wierd how we are seeing ever increasing usage of public lands - write your congressman rather than complain to local FS if you want to make a difference there).
Here is the data from spending report for the OKA-WEN NF rec sales in 2017 which should help illustrate:
Recreation Fees $1,602,920
Special Uses $150,404
Interagency Passes $143,168
Total $1,896,492

Expenditures
Repair & Maintenance $536,320
Visitor Services $795,365
Law Enforcement $10,000
Collections/Overhead $304,056
Total $1,645,741

~ 250,000$ of unreported total funds you do the math on how much of that total is supporting trails - most of it (and probably all like I said they didn't list 250k)
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water
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PostThu Nov 29, 2018 1:27 pm 
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Merlin wrote:
~ 250,000$ of unreported total funds you do the math on how much of that total is supporting trails - most of it (and probably all like I said they didn't list 250k)

Are you really suggesting to me that I should take it on the face that in not accounting for $250k the most logical conclusion is that it is spent on maintaining trails? (ie not trailheads, privys, boat launch ramps, garbage service, etc). That is disingenuous! Perhaps any unaccounted for money in the department of defense spending was used on conflict resolution training and mine removal projects around the world?

This has been a pet project of mine for the last 10 years, just on a personal level. I don't have the ability or resources to challenge the federal government. But I've kept track of the NWFP/Fee Demo program.
http://www.georgewright.org/222silver.pdf

That PDF will lay out an entire history for you about it. Scott Silver fought this battle for a long time but moved on.

The NWFP has been found invalid in the 9th district court more than once. It is only valid if you are actually using the amenities. FLREA is very clear that they cannot charge for parking. And they cannot charge you for hiking/passing through a place. They are not allowed to charge you to park and hike. I can go around the wheel on this with people who want to argue but if you read the judges decisions and reasoning, it is very clear. The judge follows multiple paths of thought, ie, if you walk to a trailhead, or pass through a place where NWFP is required, on foot, on horse, bike, is a permit required? No! And the FLREA says you cannot be charged for parking only. So the judge breaks this down, clearly driving and parking does not require payment. If you use the garbage can or sit at the picnic table, use the privy, you are using amenities. Usage of those amenities is what they can charge.
un-edited, full decision from the judge here. It is very 'readable' for the layman. http://www.westernslopenofee.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2012_02_09_Mt_Lemmon_Decision_Reversed_and_Remanded.pdf

Does anyone know of anyone who has gotten a fine/citation recently (in the last year or two) for not having NWFP at a general trailhead (and not a developed thing like Johnston Ridge Observatory in Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument)? I keep parking at general trailheads, including when I've seen FS trucks there, waiting, relishing to get said citation so I can fight it. But no luck, no citations. They put 'reminder' warnings on cars though.

Merlin to reference your OKA-WEN information the first year they have the data available-
2003:
In 2003, over 830 miles of Forest trails were maintained with Northwest Forest Pass (NWFP) revenues. An additional 1200 miles were maintained with grant money and volunteers whose work was supported and leveraged by NWFP funds.

2017:
Leveraged about $210,000 of grant funding to complete campground and 200 miles of trail maintenance. Grants fund about 70 percent of the temporary workforce, while recreation fee revenue directly funds about 20 percent.



you're telling me 14 years later they're getting 1.6 million dollars of NWFP revenue, in 2003 they got $477k, but in 2017 they can only manage 200 miles of trail work with a grant of $210k? Frankly the list of accomplishments listed in 2017 is a lot of filler, they double-mention campgrounds and the trailwork is the last bullet mentioned. Look at the 2003 PDF summary and you can see the focus is on trailwork, campgrounds are an after-thought.


how much more smoke ya gonna blow?

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Merlin
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PostThu Nov 29, 2018 1:57 pm 
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https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd578975.pdf

that a link to the figures  quoting from 2017 OKA-WEN.

Never said anything about if its moral to charge people to use public that is more in the arena of opinion yet thanks for your input WATER.

250k isn't reported in there but call the name listed on the report and have him explain where that money went, I was indeed speculating but 'disengenious' - your just stirring up a sh## pot where I'm pointing out that WELL over 50% of money actually DOES support trails... at least here in OKA-WEN. So ahh have a nice day.
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RodF
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PostThu Nov 29, 2018 4:11 pm 
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Merlin, you have completely misread and fundamentally misunderstood this report.
Merlin wrote:
Here is the data from spending report for the OKA-WEN NF rec sales in 2017 which should help illustrate:
Recreation Fees $1,602,920
Special Uses $150,404
Interagency Passes $143,168
Total $1,896,492

Expenditures
Repair & Maintenance $536,320
Visitor Services $795,365
Law Enforcement $10,000
Collections/Overhead $304,056
Total $1,645,741

~ 250,000$ of unreported total funds you do the math on how much of that total is supporting trails - most of it (and probably all like I said they didn't list 250k)

Incorrect.  None of the unspent balance, $250,751, was spent on repair & maintenance of trails or anything else.  If it had been spent, it would've been included in the "Repair & Maintenance" expenditure line.  No, that unspent balance was added to the Forest's UNSPENT FEE RESERVE account.

Like OKA-WEN, Olympic NF spends only 80 to 90% of the fee revenue it collects each year.  The FOIA revealed that Olympic NF has accumulated an UNSPENT RESERVE of $1,141,379.90, almost two year's fee revenues.

The annual accomplishment reports list only the annual unspent balance, not the cumulative total unspent reserve.  OKA-WEN probably has an unspent reserve of roughly $3 million.  I suggest you write and ask them, and issue a FOIA if necessary as we did.  It is the public's money and is public information.

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RodF
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PostThu Nov 29, 2018 4:50 pm 
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water wrote:
Merlin to reference your OKA-WEN information the first year they have the data available- ...
2017:
Leveraged about $210,000 of grant funding to complete campground and 200 miles of trail maintenance. Grants fund about 70 percent of the temporary workforce, while recreation fee revenue directly funds about 20 percent.

Water is absolutely right: OKA-WEN reports here they did spend about $60,000 of NW Forest Pass fee revenue, as a 20% match against outside grants, on trail maintenance in 2017.  That is precisely 3.2% of their fee revenue, not the "well over 50%" that Merlin somehow calculated imaginatively out of thin hot air.  And good for them - that's better than most forests!

To give credit where it is due, look at Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie NF's Annual Fee Accomplishment Reports.  They appear to consistently support trails with 10 to 20% of their fee revenue.  That has doubtless be due to the initiative of their widely admired Wilderness and Trail Coordinator Gary Paull, a champion of trail projects and leader in USFS' partnership with volunteers, who alas retired last year.  Let's hope they maintain his legacy, and continue to serve as an example to which other forests might aspire!

I think that's what we expect when we buy a NW Forest Pass.  But few forests deliver it, and certainly not Olympic.

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xrp
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 7:36 pm 
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Jeff wrote:
I stopped paying for those years ago.

^^This^^

You are not legally required to buy and display a NWFP for parking, hiking and backpacking.

You are required to have the pass if you use the amenities that are present at the trailheads.

Example: Park at trailhead and pee in the parking lot = no NWFP required

Park at trailhead and use the vault/pit toilet to pee in = NWFP required

There are two 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cases that rule in favor of no NWFP requirement.
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Cyclopath
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 8:30 pm 
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I really like that people are pooping in outhouses and not in the parking lot and on the trails.  Even if I don't use the bathroom myself, I still appreciate it being there.

Same with garbage cans.  Most people aren't very considerate.
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 10:08 pm 
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I wish there could be a changing area without a gross toliet.

It wouldn't even need to be enclosed, actually.  Just a  fence panel, really.  A hook and a bench would be nice.

I really hate changing in the potty.

I use to just do it quick behind my car but I'm old now.

My they will either like it or not look attitude is waning...
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contour5
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PostFri Nov 30, 2018 10:58 pm 
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I just consider it a parking pass. I buy it to avoid getting tickets.

Last year I bought the cursed thing in some random filling station in Monroe and they punched it wrong, so I got a ticket anyway.

Had to go all legalistic with receipts and everything but the nice person at the Skykomish ranger station was able to magically erase the infractionary violation.

I think. Or, it's possible that there are still some sort of deep state activists actively pursuing me, hell bent on some sick, sadistic plan to make something great again.
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Bedivere
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PostSat Dec 01, 2018 12:29 pm 
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contour5 wrote:
Or, it's possible that there are still some sort of deep state activists actively pursuing me, hell bent on some sick, sadistic plan to make something great again.

Stick with this.  Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

tongue.gif  wink.gif

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PostSat Dec 01, 2018 1:49 pm 
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xrp wrote:
Jeff wrote:
I stopped paying for those years ago.

^^This^^

You are not legally required to buy and display a NWFP for parking, hiking and backpacking.

You are required to have the pass if you use the amenities that are present at the trailheads.

Example: Park at trailhead and pee in the parking lot = no NWFP required

Park at trailhead and use the vault/pit toilet to pee in = NWFP required

There are two 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cases that rule in favor of no NWFP requirement.

Just a quick note to others that may be tempted to rely on this interpretation of Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act: this is almost certainly not going to prevail in court, having been rejected a number of times now.

One example:

Wiechers v. Moore, No. 1:13-CV-00223-LJO-JLT, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66469, at *9 (E.D. Cal. May 14, 2014) wrote:
As the Court previously explained, Plaintiff's interpretation of Adams and its discussion of § 6802(d)(1)(A) "would totally eviscerate the fee program REA was designed to implement." Doc. 48 at 42. The fee enforcement scheme Plaintiff seeks would require the Forest Service "to patrol each fee area, ask for proof of payment, and personally cite each violator" instead of requiring those who park at the Lower Kern River SAFAs to display proof of a recreation pass, as 16 U.S.C. § 6811(b) permits." Id. As Plaintiff notes, the legislative history  [*10] of REA indicates that Congress intended to prohibit the Forest Service from "charg[ing] solely for parking, scenic pullouts, and other non-developed areas," which suggests that Congress envisioned that there should be no fees to park in non-developed areas, such as the "roads and trailsides" referenced in § 6802(d)(1)(A). Doc. 49 at 5 (quoting H.R. Rep. 108-790(I), 108th Cong., 2d Sess. 2004, 2004 WL 2920863, at *18) (emphasis added). The Court cannot agree with Plaintiff that § 6802(d)(1)(A) provides a broad prohibition on fees for parking in developed areas, such as the Lower Kern River SAFAs.
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