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Bosterson
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PostTue Oct 29, 2019 9:30 pm 
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mb wrote:
But if 'californication' had anything to do with the topic at hand (a congressional act related to all national forests, many of which are in Washington and visited by members of this board, and proposed by a WA congressman), then your comments would be worthy of a direct response. But as you are totally derailing this thread, they are not.

Cyclopath wrote:
I don't understand why people start frothing at the mouth whenever California comes up.  But I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with the trail fees being proposed.  I hope everybody took the time to write their representatives and to comment on the proposal.



up.gif

If everyone wants to spin this off into a pointless pseudo political nitpick spat, then so be it (after all, this is the internet), but have any of you tried directing this energy towards contacting your Congresspersons? This thread was about a proposed amendment to FLREA that potentially (and confusingly) redefines how the FS is allowed to create special use permit fee areas. I have emailed my Congressman and 2 Senators (one of whom is Wyden, a co-sponsor on the bill) and am awaiting a response to my questions and concerns. Have any of the Washingtonians here contacted the other (Washington) co-sponsor about this? If so, what was the response?

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cunningkeith
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 5:39 am 
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mb wrote:
Did cunningkeith read the text of the bill?

Yes.  Here is the language about charging "individuals" for hiking in "special areas"

Quote:
“(h) Special Recreation Permit And Fee.—

“(1) SPECIAL RECREATION PERMIT.—The Secretary may issue a special recreation permit for specialized individual or group uses of Federal recreational lands and waters, including—

“(A) outfitting, guiding, or other recreation services;

“(B) recreation or competitive events, which may include incidental sales;

“(C) for the use of—

“(i) a special area; or

“(ii) an area in which use is allocated;


“(D) motorized recreational vehicle use; and

“(E) a group activity or event.
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cunningkeith
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 6:04 am 
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If anyone can explain how the language for charging "individuals" snuck in this legislation, I would love to know.

Here's one theory (and it's just a theory): Lobbyists who stand to gain from the legislation put this language in the bill.  Think that's far-fetched?  Look at the facts:

The website recreation.gov could make millions from charging people for hiking permits across the country.

So let's follow the money.  recreation.gov is not run by the government despite the ".gov" domain name. The website is operated by Booz Allen Hamilton, a huge government contractor.  The parent company of Booz Allen is the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm.

Sen. Ron Wyden has been a lead sponsor of this legislation. According to opensecrets.org, the Carlyle Group paid Sen. Wyden $51,800 over the last five years.  So it appears that the Carlyle Group contributed to Sen. Wyden and now he supports legislation that will benefit his donor.
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water
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 6:13 am 
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Keith,

Try looking into the SOAR act that was merged it's legislation with the RNR.

Someone posted this link earlier on the thread:
https://medium.com/american-whitewater/legislation-to-prioritize-outdoor-recreation-on-public-lands-6bc17a9ebec8

If you look up the SOAR act I think you can find that language in it. Not sure if you can find a revision 1/first draft of the RNR, but that's a way to trace back.

I don't necessarily share a super cynical view that there's someone/group at the top pushing this in order to make money. But that may be an influence. I feel like that is the sorta thing that would come about through more informal channels, like higher ups in the FS chatting with legislators. You hear the way they curate a narrative about how they manage wilderness... I can totally hear a district supervisor or regional Forester saying 'oh yeah, sometimes these are for individual instances, but it's very limited and is an excellent tool to help us manage really special places from being loved to death'.

All speculative but the above link may be a way to learn more via SOAR act.

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Canyon1
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 6:35 am 
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Having been exposed to the FS I can tell you the organization is a lost bureaucratic cause. How do you go bankrupt managing the billion dollar natural resources of our nation's forests? Do not sit there FS and tell me you do not have the funds to promote recreation. It is simple, just call it mismanagement. The FS culture can not or accept the fact that way to much money goes into hands off-sitting behind a desk overhead. Reckless internal spending with no after thought of the negative impact to the public and nation's lands. I have seen this and experienced it first hand.  If you gave FS management over to the hands of a Dell, Gates, Bozos, etc. they would turn a profit and get the job done the right way. Tell this to a FS employee and they will refuse to comprehend and promote their dysfunctional agency.
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Kim Brown
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 7:57 am 
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Canyon1 wrote:
Tell this to a FS employee and they will refuse to comprehend and promote their dysfunctional agency.



Depends on the context. If USFS staff is at an event promoting a project then of course, as any employee would, they promote their employer regardless of internal knowledge or feelings.

But I’ve had the opposite interaction with USFS staff. They know the agency and it’s various purse-strings are a bureaucratic mess and money isn’t allocated well. This is true with all government agencies, not solely the USFS.

The thing about fees is – without fees, where is the money going to come from? Is money the thing necessary – will it fix the problem? Implementing a fee is low-hanging fruit – it can be done within a lifetime, and with relatively little work compared to decades of lobbying Congress to allocate funds correctly, getting the public on board, and various levels of voting to correct the budget (this is where voting would actually make a difference).

So while I don’t like fees, and I know the money is there, and I know it’s not allocated appropriately – what else can be done? They have partnered with various organizations for messaging, developed volunteer programs, etc. the Leave No Trace people have held workshops, other events, and have touched on an 8th principle addressing social media in an effort to ask forest users, organizations, and industry to be more thoughtful in rampant promotion of these places (which is largely met with mocking, on NWHikers).

These efforts may have had some positive impact, but apparently not enough and not soon enough.

Who is going to take on Congress to allocate the budget? How long will that take?

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Cyclopath
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 8:36 am 
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What can be done?  When it comes to recreation, USFS benefits from more volunteer labor (including mine) than possibly any other government agency, surely more than any private company.

My neighbor's home got broken into.  She called the police, they came to her home.  Nobody has ever suggested they should charge her a fee.  They weren't volunteers, like many or most of the people who maintain the trails we're talking about having to pay to hike on.
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water
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 9:05 am 
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Kim Brown wrote:
what else can be done?

If only there was an organization that advocated for hikers and helped mobilize recreationalists to demand (via elected officials at local, state, and federal levels) that the FS be more accountable and properly allocate monies. They could even make a 10, 15, or 20 year plan...But woe, such does not exist. I only know of a hiker organization that basically stands behind the FS and will do their old jobs for them when the FS shrugs and says they don't want to spend the money and effort to address recreation demands. Then the org supports legislation like FLREA that monetizes the outdoors and privatizes profits from public lands.

What was the response of your elected representatives regarding the individual fees and special areas clause trying to be inserted into an update to FLREA?

Would money make a difference? In Oregon 4-5 rangers who could have a presence 15-25 nights a year (basically fri-sat popular weekends-July 1 thru 1st week sept) at the most popular places (South Sister, Jeff Park, Green Lakes, Broken Top, and the 5th could float to wherever/backup) along with actual enforcement (fines) of existing regs about camping near water, fires, etc would make a really significant impact in those areas which get hammered with folks. I know, it would cost billions.

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Bosterson
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 9:50 am 
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Someone I know said the following:

Quote:
In the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance conference I attended last week, it seems that the trend nationwide is to enact pay to play permit systems. It was basically the only strategy various land management agencies were talking about. Unfortunately this will become the new norm unless we do something about it now.

This is the real issue. "Pay to play" inherently creates a burden on public access based on socioeconomic status. I know that entrance fees are the norm for National Parks, however those generally have substantial federal investments in infrastructure. (Think of the difference between Yosemite or Yellowstone vs North Cascades, which does not have much development, and also does not have an entrance fee.) In contrast, most general federally-held lands are also undeveloped. FLREA explicitly prohibited general entrance fees for undeveloped lands, or for simple access to hike, camp, etc on those lands.

Again, I sympathize with the FS's reduced budget in an era of Congressional budget slashing and increased spending on wildfires. However, an overarching requirement for payment for any access to public lands is a huge change and runs counter to the historical ideal of publicly held lands being held in trust for the people of this country, which, being our lands, we are able to access freely. Saying that the FS's budget is not likely to be fixed any time soon, and so this justifies allowing Congress to authorize broad entrance fees, is to reject free and open access to public lands, and to support a de facto class system for public access. (For those of you who hike every weekend, or maybe twice a weekend, think how quickly that will add up when every hike will cost $5-10 in entrance fees. Then think about how burdensome this would be for people who don't have much or any spare money.)

Just because we haven't achieved the best solution, it doesn't follow that we have to accept the worst solution...

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Cyclopath
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 10:10 am 
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Bosterson wrote:
Have any of the Washingtonians here contacted the other (Washington) co-sponsor about this? If so, what was the response?

I wrote my representative and both senators.  Do not expect a response.  I hope one of their staffers reads my emails and tells them they're getting feedback about the bill and the importance of not creating (financial) hurdles to keep citizens away from our collective birthright.
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Schenk
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 10:39 am 
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Canyon1 wrote:
If you gave FS management over to the hands of a Dell, Gates, Bozos, etc. they would turn a profit and get the job done the right way.

This is one of the scariest comments I have read...are you seriously suggesting that Federal (read: PUBLIC) Land should be managed to turn a profit, and profit for a public company with stockholders no less? Charging people to enjoy public land so a profit can be made is a regressive form of taxation.  Am I required to be ambitious so I can afford the extra cost to enjoy some company's "Public" land?

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neek
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 10:49 am 
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Schenk wrote:
This is one of the scariest comments I have read

There's a good article about Bezos in the latest Atlantic.  His sole purpose in life is to get humans off earth and into space.  He's mind-bogglingly crazy.  (But well-intentioned, so it doesn't matter, right?)

Saw you altered your post a bit which is too bad because I was recently at a park in France where you did indeed have to pay for the swingset.
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Kim Brown
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 10:55 am 
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water wrote:
privatizes profits from public lands.

Can you explain this, please? What is the private profit and what organizations support it?

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water
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 11:17 am 
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Kim Brown wrote:
water wrote:
privatizes profits from public lands.

Can you explain this, please? What is the private profit and what organizations support it?

FLREA, the grounds under which fees are charged, and outsourced (read: privatized profits) to recreation.gov which is owned by Booz Allen Hamilton and on up. For instance the proposed day-hike permit for the Oregon wilderness areas will have a fee of $1 and for overnight $6, because processing an overnight permit vs a day-permit certainly would incur 6 times the cost for this contractor.

This organization supports it!
https://www.wta.org/news/signpost/nw-forest-pass-authorizing-law-up-for-renewal

And the modifications they supported would just let the FS put more places under fee.. by only requiring 3 amenities instead of all of them. I guess they'd spend less by just putting a picnic table, kiosk and developed parking area, but they'd do that and charge at every single TH. Thankfully FLREMA, HR 5204 appears to have been DOA in 2014.

WTA acknowledges very little money from NWFP goes to trails, the vast majority goes to a the maintenance and service of bathrooms and trash services apparently. Deschutes National Forest spends some of theirs on a puppet show called 'Critters in the Cracks'.. NWFP was originally presented to the public as being to support trails. These days it seems like an amenities fee only. FS units don't even really highlight miles of trail maintained on their yearly NWFP summary flyers. In the early years of the program trail miles was front and center.

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treeswarper
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PostWed Oct 30, 2019 11:26 am 
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Trails may be YOUR priority.  There are other priorities needing funding also.  Forest Health is a biggie.  Then, there is the elephant in the room--fire.   To other people it is road maintenance.  Other folks  want to have logs put in streams.  The list goes on. 

The budget varies each year.  That makes planning difficult.  I doubt that Dell has to put up with that.   Also, the mission of the FS is not to "make a profit".

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