I apologize for the long post but this issue rung my bell...
I am adamantly opposed to any sort of fees and strongly urge everyone to take the same position.
Furthermore, I encourage everyone to support the major policy changes required to protect the National Forests
in a way the USDA will never do.
I would encourage donations to CFI.
BTW, I am not a Democrat or Republican. I am agnostic.
1) I do not want the hassle of having to deliver my fee.
2) I don't want the inconvenience of having to plan my adventures in advance.
3) I don't believe paying a fee will provide any benefit.
4) I already pay for the National Forest via taxes. Not only that, my dollars are subsidizing others
to not only use but ABUSE the National Forest in ways I couldn't possibly equal. EVERYBODY that
uses the NF should play by the same rules.
5) I am not a fan of the USDA and the policies and practices they support. The USDA is not looking at
the National Forests the way most of us on this forum do.
I cannot imagine any convenient way to administer a fee program. An online system where I pay and print
out a receipt might work but I am not always having internet access when I make my decisions.
Related to the collection problem is that I do not want to have to plan my trips in advance to accommodate
a fee collection. I sometimes plan my trips on the fly and certainly don't plan more than a couple weeks ahead.
Fees will not solve anything. They won't get properly funneled toward trail maintenance. The won't deter crowds. They won't put a dent in the national debt or solve the health care problem
They might help employ more government workers with pensions to administer the fee program, and they'll need supervisors too (BTW, the fees won't cover the cost of those employees).
I already paid at the office. The $6B budget does not get funded from the profits on timber sales. And anyway, giving money to the USDA is like giving heroin to a junkie.
Why I can't support the National Forest Service:
The NFS, an agency of the USDA has a budget approaching $6,000,000,000 annually.
They get most of their money from taxes we are already paying.
Their charter is more about managing the resources within the National Forests than it is about protecting them
(and always has been). The NFS *really* is about the government serving the special interests of an elite few (ranchers, lumber companies and mining corporations) while pretending to be serving the "people". While we do benefit indirectly from these subsidies, the lack of free market capitalism is enabling bad behaviors and inappropriate consumption that I won't get into here.
The tax dollars that fund the NFS budget subsidize cattle grazing, mining and logging in the National Forests which are *far* more detrimental to the land than the small number of people climbing 14ers.
Today, there are grazing allotments on nearly half of all National Forest System lands, approximately 90 million acres of land in 34 states. The Forest Service administers approximately 8800 allotments, with over 9000 livestock permits, and about 9.7 million animal unit months of grazing by cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. Nearly all this permitted grazing is located in the Western states (99%), with only about one percent occurring in the Eastern forests.
The grazing fee is $1.35 per month per head for livestock grazing in our National Forest!
You want to charge me $20 for a one day hike? I couldn't possibly have the energy to
do the same amount of damage to the land per dollar and still be able to summit
It simply isn't fair to charge me for “wear and tear” on the mountain while letting ranchers, miners and loggers slide.
Over five million acres of Forest Service lands are currently leased for oil, gas, coal and phosphate mining
operations. At any given time, the agency administers operations on approximately 160,000 mining claims
and manages approximately 2,600 mineral material sale contracts.
NFS builds fences to contain cattle grazing on NFS land, allows cattle to defecate in the streams, builds roads to
help loggers get access to harvest our trees. I even witnessed a NFS ranger building a watering hole for the cows to keep them out of the river (shouldn't the ranchers do this?). I get crazy every time I go into the National Forests and see the devastation and corruption. You want to charge me to walk in the National Forest?
It was reported by the General Accounting Office that the NFS had nearly $1 billion dollars of cumulative loss
in managing "timber sales" between 1992 and 1994. Old news but this is the MO of the NFS. Ranchers, loggers
and miners have strong enough lobbies to be able to continue taking advantage of (and abusing) resources that
belong to everyone. Our tax dollars are subsidizing cheap lumber and McDonalds hamburgers!
You want to charge me $20 to hike up a mountain?
Money to neighboring towns? Why? They are already benefiting from the tourism, albeit surviving on it.
Search and rescue? Get it from the rescued or their insurance provider.
Instead we should be talking about:
- STOP subsidizing ranching, lumber and mining industries.
Charge cattle grazers, loggers and miners realistic / competitive costs for *our* resources. Include environmental costs. What we are allowing now is nothing short of corruption.
- Tear down the NFS and start over. A lot has changed in over 100 years and policies need to align with modern perspectives. There have been proposals to move it under the department of the Interior.
Check out these websites:http://www.fseee.org/stay-informed/projects/1001910http://www.fs.fed.us/congress/108/senate/oversight/thompson/062304.htmlhttp://www.foresthistory.org/ASPNET/Policy/Grazing/index.aspxhttp://earthjustice.org/news/press/2000/suit-alleges-livestock-grazing-in-national-forest-violates-endangered-species-acthttp://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2012/january/NR_01_31_2012.htmlhttp://www.foresthistory.org/ASPNET/Publications/first_century/sec6.htmhttp://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/grand-canyon-uranium-06-26-2012.html
if you got this far, thanks for listening! jcs
Attitude over Altitude