I had not previously heard of this study, but thought I ought to float the information here to see what you guys know, or what you guys may have heard. Personally, I'm concerned that more attempts to charge for wild land use may be coming our direction pretty soon. The fee situation is starting to get a bit ridiculous, and I don't think I'm alone in feeling that I shouldn't have to pay the USFS to go walk up a mountain in the middle of nowhere.
Whether or not the results of this study will be used to push for more fees is a question I can't answer at the moment. However, what does seem clear is that this study is suggesting that the majority of people who were contacted don't have a problem with a $20 fee to climb 14'ers. I wasn't contacted during the course of this study, but I DO have a problem with paying $20 to climb a 14'er.
Since I'm not fully versed on this issue at this time, and don't know how likely such a proposition really is, I'll just share the information that was provided to me by Kitty Benzar:
Kitty Benzar - Western Slope No Fee Coalition wrote:Hi Kevin,
I'm just in the process of learning that the USDA (parent agency of the Forest Service) has been funding a CSU study of the public's willingness to pay a fee for access to 14ers. I'm doing research and peeling back the layers of the onion, but it's looking ugly. Here is some of what I've found so far:
http://www.turningtechnologies.com/professionalaudienceresponse/researchcasestudies/casestudies/government/usda/USDA Research Initiative
Catherine Keske is an Assistant Professor of Agriculture and Resource Economics at Colorado State University. Her experience in the university's Department of Soil and Crop Economics has provided her the opportunity to become a principal investigator on a national research initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During her study, Catherine will be exploring sustainable economic development practices in the fragile mountain ecosystems of rural mountain communities.
During the first phase the study, Catherine and her colleagues conducted stakeholder meetings in the rural Colorado towns of Alma and Leadville. The meetings combined government officials and citizens in order to gather information from all individuals regarding the transition from a mining economy to a recreational economy. Opinions from the community members regarding economic development were vital to the research study and well-being of the areas...
It looks like a paper on Keske's study is going to be presented at a meeting in Estes Park next month (http://asm2012.lternet.edu/node/8) of the Long Term Ecological Research Network:
Visitor willingness to pay U.S. Forest Service recreation fees in New West rural mountain economies
Poster Number: 238
Presenter/Primary Author: Catherine Keske
Co-Authors: Adam Mayer
This study evaluates visitors’ stated willingness to pay (WTP) to recreate at Colorado “Fourteeners”, peaks that rise above higher than 14,000 feet. The study also assesses the respondents’ willingness to pay an entrance fee, where 80% of the funds are used on-site, and self-reported response uncertainty about WTP for recreating at the Fourteeners and the fee increase. Like prior papers from this six-year project (2006-2012), results indicate a high WTP to recreate on Colorado Fourteeners. Results also reveal that 62% of respondents are willing to incur an additional $20 fee to recreate at the site. Regardless of whether or not the respondent is willing to pay an additional fee for recreation, approximately 90% of respondents report a high level of certainty in their stated answers to both questions. In other words, recreators exhibit clear preferences and low uncertainty in their willingness to pay for general cost increases, and localized access fees. Implications could have a complex effect on when, if and how fees should be applied in “New West” economies and lands that are reliant on revenues from recreation.
This seems to have begun in 2006 (and the authors' roots go way back before that) but it's just now come to my attention. Did you know anything about this? Did the 14ers community as a whole? I was deeply involved in stopping the Pike-San Isabel from charging an access fee at South Colony Basin in 2010 and I know there was a lot of opposition to that among climbers because it's the access to several 14ers. Seems to me the scope of the effort is bigger than we (or at least I) realized. Would like to know your thoughts, maybe get some discussion going at 14ers.com.
Western Slope No-Fee Coalition