VW Lover wrote
Personally, I don't see the big deal with 10 bucks. Putting the private/public land difference aside for a minute, I wonder if the same people who are unhappy with paying $10 to access this area are the same ones who've paid $100 to climb Culebra.
Personally, I haven't climbed Culebra and don't have plans to do so. But I'm very glad that the owners give people who want to the opportunity to do so.
Slow Moving Fun Seeker wrote:I've have a very different take on this situation and will stick my neck out to describe it to you.
I climbed Mt. Evans from Guanella Pass earlier this year. By the time I got to the top of the gulley, I was aware that I was moving very slowly (even for me) and seemed to be unusually fatigued. By the time I got about mid-way into the West Ridge trail, I started feeling dizzy--very dizzy and had a moderate headache. There were 2 or 3 times when I felt like I was going to pass out. Classic AMS symptoms, right? Well, my partner had already summited and I needed to suck it up and get up there--really no other choice. I thought that maybe I was dehydrated and was bonking and needed calories. So I made the summit, sat and rested, drank a ton of water and ate a ton of food. Nothing helped. I found a FS employee who was about to clean the restrooms and told him my situation. He drove me and my partner all the way down to Echo Lake where my wife picked me up (I had called her from the summit). This guy took good care of me and I owe a big debt of gratitude to him. If that's what my $10 pays for, then I'm happy to pay. I needed help and got it.
BTW: it wasn't AMS, as it did not get better upon getting down. I have since had extensive tests for the dizziness (MRI, etc.) and nothing has turned up, so it's somewhat of a mystery. If this was going to happen on any 14er, I was very glad it happened on Evans where I could get help. (I've also taken advantage of the nice clean restrooms at the top and I also appreciate that my $10 pays for that.)
SMFS, I'm glad you got the help you needed, and wish you the best for being nothing serious. I appreciate your post, and nothing in my response should diminish the value of it.
I think most people on this forum would agree, if you approached any one of us on the top of Mt. Evans, we'd be happy to let you warm up, give you a ride down, or help you in any way we can. I think most people are just as kind and considerate as the Forest Service employees who helped you out when you needed it.
But here's the flip side.
Just after the top of the Mt Evans road closed in 2007, two hikers climbed up to the summit. It was cold and blustery, and when they met the Forest Service employee who was there decommissioning the toilets for the season, they asked him/her if they could get a ride down. He/she said no. They then asked if they could get in his vehicle and warm up for a few minutes, and were again told no.
They must have made it down, since their story was passed on to me.
I don't know anyone who has a problem when someone else wants to give the Forest Service their money. The Forest Service happily accepts donations, both in time and money. But there is a substantial difference between making a donation and being threatened with criminal prosecution if you don't pay.
Half of the Forest Service's name is "service". They are there to serve American taxpayers. They are funded by American taxpayers. They get their oversight from Congress, which either grants or denies them the authority to charge fees. Through Congress, we the people should
have an opportunity to control where, under what conditions and for what the Forest Service collects fees for.
In 1996 Representative Ralph Regula attached a rider onto the appropriations bill authorizing the Forest Service to collect entrance fees in places like Mt. Evans. After considerable public outcry, including the threat of repealing legislation (Senate Bill 1170, which would have ended the fee collection program except for in campgrounds), Representative Regula attached another rider onto the appropriations bill, authorizing some fees but prohibiting the Forest Service from collecting entrance fees, fees "solely for parking", dispersed areas with little or no investment, etc.
When the Forest Service doesn't follow Congress's directives, it frustrates congress's attempts to legislate, and we the people lose control of our public lands.
BTW, Senate Bill 1170 has resurfaced as Senate Bill 2438. If you value public land, please consider contacting your Senator and thanking them for co-sponsoring (Colorado Senator Ken Salazar) or asking them to co-sponsor or support it.
Allowing the Forest Service to keep the funds they collect has also created the incentive to create costly and unnecessary amenities that the Forest Service doesn't have the budget to operate or maintain. We see this on Mt Evans at the Dos Chappell Nature Center. Long before the Nature Center was built, a study was done asking people if they were satisfied with their experience on Mt. Evans. 74% said their experiance was excellent, 23% rated their experience as very good, and 3% rated theri experience as good. No one said they wanted a Nature Center. But the Forest Service built one anyway.
[Edited to provide exact numbers.]
Another point is sound management of our public lands. One of the basic facts is that people tend to avoid places that charge a fee, and go somewhere else.
As parent will tell you, the best way to manage their children's activities is to give them a place to play where its easy to supervise them and control their impacts. One of those places is Mt Evans. Yet by charging the fees, the Forest Service disperses the public over a wider area, making our impacts more difficult and more expensive to manage. IMO, not a sound management strategy when the Forest Service claims to be underfunded.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Oh, and these ARE
the cliff notes!
The Mt Evans road will close (or open, depending on your perspective) on Monday, October 6, 2008