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Concessionaire trailhead fees

Colorado 14ers access and fee issues only, please
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Concessionaire trailhead fees

Postby D8S » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:21 pm

You might want to make note of the following press release by the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition. Kitty Benzar said it well - if concessionaires to charge fees for things that the Forest Service is prohibited from charging for, the concept of public lands is essentially over.

The Forest Service has restrictions on their fee collection authority for a reason. But apparently concessionaires operating Forest Service sites do not.

Dave


Begin press release

Dear Friends,

I have started a page on our website devoted to letters that have been sent to the Forest Service regarding their proposal to change the rules for acceptance of lifetime passes at concessionaire-managed campgrounds and day-use sites, compared to the rules they follow at agency-managed ones.
http://westernslopenofee.org/index2.php?newsdisplay=yes&newsid=23
If your comment letter is not already there please send it to me and I will add it. If you have not weighed in on this issue I urge you to do so now.
Information on how to do that is posted at
http://westernslopenofee.org/index2.php?display=yes&pageid=2

I DO NOT EXAGGERATE WHEN I SAY THAT THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE EVER TO AFFECT RECREATION ON OUR PUBLIC LANDS.
The reason why has nothing to do with the fact that the policy is unfair to Senior and Disabled passholders, although it most certainly is. It is, in my estimation, so much more important that I might even speculate that this change was bundled with the Senior/Disabled discount issue so that it would effectively go unnoticed.

Here's the REAL issue: the Forest Service claims that publicly-owned but concessionaire-managed recreation facilities are not subject to federal recreation fee law.

The law says that lifetime Senior/Disabled passes and regular annual $80 passes and annual volunteer passes MUST be accepted at all "Standard Amenity" (day-use) sites.
Period.
(16 U.S.C. 6804(a)(1))
But under this twisted "concessionaire exemption" the day-use sites concessionaires manage are currently not honoring ANY national passes. Under the proposed policy concessionaires would have to accept SOME national passes, but not OTHERS.

Both the current policy and the proposed one would be in obvious violation of the law at Forest Service-managed facilities. In my opinion they are also in violation of the law at concessionaire-managed ones.

Concessionaires should not be allowed to follow policies that would be illegal at Forest Service managed sites!

Under the Forest Service's interpretation of the law, a concessionaire-managed day use site does not have to provide any minimum amenities, go through any public comment or advisory committee review process, or abide by any of the prohibitions on where fees can be charged. Here's how it works:
The Forest Service is prohibited from charging for parking. 16 U.S.C. 6802(d)(1)(A)
So they put the parking lot under a concession and let the concessionaire charge for parking.
The Forest Service is prohibited from charging for scenic overlooks.16 U.S.C. 6802(d)(1)(F)
So they put the overlook under a concessionaire and let them charge for the overlook.
The Forest Service must provide six specific amenities before they can charge a day use fee. 16 U.S.C. 6802(f)(4)
The Forest Service finds that inconvenient? No problem, just give it to a concessionaire, they don't have to provide anything.
The Forest Service (and any other public land management agency) should not be allowed to let concessionaires charge fees that would be illegal at agency-managed sites. This is the underlying heart of the issue. Details about who gets what discounts are just tinkering around the edges of a fundamentally flawed interpretation of the law.

To add insult to injury, the Forest Service has from day one countered complaints about day use fees by claiming that the public supports them as long as the money stays on site, and the law requires 80% of recreation fees to stay on site.

But concessionaire fees are not recreation fees (according to the Forest Service) so when a day use fee is charged by a concessionaire, there is no obligation to keep it on site, and no accountability for how it is spent. It goes into the private revenue of a private company.

The sham promise that your money will stay where you pay it is now totally exposed as a lie. Recreation fees, and in particular day-use fees, are just another tax, and under this proposal they are a tax that the Forest Service is allowing to be levied by private corporations on the American people.

It's the utter and complete privatization of our public land.

If this stands it's Game Over for the very concept of public lands!

Please send your comment (both to the Forest Service and to me) and
CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION!

--
Kitty Benzar
President
Western Slope No-Fee Coalition
P.O. Box 135
Durango, CO 81302
970/259-4616 (Landline)
970/946-2909 (Cell)
www.WesternSlopeNoFee.org

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Re: Concessionaire trailhead fees

Postby wildbrookie » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:44 pm

Horse!#@* :deadhorse:
It is impossible to fully enjoy procrastination unless one has plenty of work to do

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Re: Concessionaire trailhead fees

Postby ClimbandMine » Sat Jan 23, 2010 10:48 am

Good lord, these criminals in the USFS just will not stop. They are trying to find every underhanded way to subvert our rights to access our lands without double taxation. Thanks for keeping us informed.
I don't care that you Tele.

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Re: Concessionaire trailhead fees

Postby peter303 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:08 pm

I haven't been able to see the full price list on these websites,
but this post presses my "entitlement button".

I think its fair to hae users pay some or much of the cost
of maintaining a service or resource. Calling it "public" and
asking the government to pay most or all of it is an entitlement.

Along the same lines giving large discounts just because someone
has reached a magic age is yet another entitlement.
Especially after last week when this greedy age group successfully
thwarted extending their lucrative health benefits to the broader
population. Young people are going to wake up someday and
equalize the entitlements across age groups.

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Re: Concessionaire trailhead fees

Postby ClimbandMine » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:36 pm

peter303 wrote:I haven't been able to see the full price list on these websites,
but this post presses my "entitlement button".

I think its fair to hae users pay some or much of the cost
of maintaining a service or resource. Calling it "public" and
asking the government to pay most or all of it is an entitlement.


Funny, I thought that was what taxes were for -- property taxes (in Colorado, anyway) pay for schools, local roads, and local services. Federal taxes pay for, among other things, highway maintenance, the Interior Dept. (BLM) and the USDA (USFS). Sure, camping fees are one thing - they should be used to maintain the campground ... but day use fees are double taxation. Roads, pullouts, and trailheads are already paid for.

See the Mt. Evans discussion for more background.
I don't care that you Tele.

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Re: Concessionaire trailhead fees

Postby OBC13 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:12 pm

D8S wrote:The Forest Service (and any other public land management agency) should not be allowed to let concessionaires charge fees that would be illegal at agency-managed sites. This is the underlying heart of the issue. Details about who gets what discounts are just tinkering around the edges of a fundamentally flawed interpretation of the law.


I wonder if this interpretation of the law is legal. Usually when government agencies hire private firms to do their work as extended staff, the firm must comply with the same regulations that the government is required to comply with.
OBC13

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Re: Concessionaire trailhead fees

Postby TravelingMatt » Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:00 pm

peter303 wrote: Young people are going to wake up someday and
equalize the entitlements across age groups.


Trouble is, by the time "someday" happens, they're in the old age group and like their free guberment money very much, thank you. (Sorry if this is going off-route.)
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

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