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Forest Service 14er Fee

Colorado 14ers access and fee issues only, please
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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby AlpineHigh » Fri May 14, 2010 6:59 pm

Bean wrote:
Perhaps you should go somewhere that it's ok to lie and misrepresent yourself and every single fact relating to a situation, without any risk of being called out on it.

Furthermore, while I haven't worked for a land management agency, I currently work for an agency that faces countless complaints from the public, and I'm forced to do far more than would be thought reasonable given the resources available to me. Since you deem it relevant, I'll be working 55+ hours a week at night all summer long, serving the public, way understaffed, and I'll be doing it for about 60% of what I should be getting paid. Get off your high horse.



I don't recall misrepresenting myself or ling but perhaps you could quote me on it? After all, I luckily DO have someone on here to call me on it (I'm referring to you). Based on what YOU do for work (even though you have neglected to mention it, only how hard you work and how under-paid you are) I'd expect you to have a better understanding of the difficulties the FS is facing when it comes to getting the job done. This is not a justification for something that is misrepresented by a fee that cannot be enforced legally, just a question of whether or not you are able to suggest realistic alternatives to the system that has been suggested.
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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby ClimbandMine » Fri May 14, 2010 7:33 pm

AlpineHigh wrote:
ClimbandMine wrote:The USFS is flagrantly violating the law currently at Mt. Evans and soon in the Crestones. Please explain why the Mt. Evans toll booth requires (as of at least last year) an armed LEO to intimidate drivers into paying the fee. If it was legal and legitimate, a large (overweight?) armed LEO behind the toll collector should not be needed.

Happy paying "costumers" refered to by rjsfun are not the issue. The legality and legimaticy of the USFS to charge fees under the law is. The press release for the Crestone fee refers to the defunct Fee Demo program, replaced in 2004 by the FLREA. If the USFS doesn't even know the law they are supposed to be following why should we trust you to use fee dollars for what you claim it will be used for? Why should we trust anything you say? FLREA is your law (well, Ralph Regula's law) but you get the point. It's pretty clear cut.


I do understand the anger as far as the law goes - the Forest Service cannot charge fees for use of the National Forests, yet they ask for a fee to drive up Mt.Evans. I would agree that the fee is ambiguous, confusing, and even not explained well. The fees charged are for use of the Forest Service facilities (and county facilities at Summit Lake). For those people wishing to drive the road, you are not obligated to pay the fee. You can kindly tell the fee collector that you are only going to be driving the road and not making use of the facilities and you should be allowed to proceed. The road is a county road and the fee is not so that you can drive it. I am very sorry to hear about the LEO at the fee station. Please keep in mind that he is armed because he is a Law Enforcement Officer and it is for his safety on the job. If he was sitting there attempting to intimidate people then I would say he was not doing his job which is to patrol the entire ranger district enforcing laws. As far as I remember last year, he spent the majority of his time patroling the district, not trying to intimidate visitors on Mt.Evans. That being the case, I am disappointed and sorry that that is the experience you had.

Money collected on Mt.Evans supplements the Clear Creek Ranger District budget (as far as I know). The district is largely under-funded (as well as the entire USFS).


I don't know - the fee seemed pretty clearly explained. if you plan on getting out of the car at all, you have to pay. If not, the rangers'll ticket yer ass. That was the gist of what the LEO and the toll booth gal said when I questioned them on the law. Nevermind that is NOT what the law says. The FLREA allwos parking and stopping at overlooks and pullouts, and use of USFS land (hiking, skiiing, etc.), without paying the fee, if the amenities aren't used. The LEO and booth gal said exactly otherwise, and there are documented cases of skiiers and folks here getting citations if they did not pay the fee.

Underfunding of the district is irrelevant to the fee issue. As Bill said, those of us in private business cut staff and expenses to deal with that issue. So should the gov't.

By the way, the Mt. Evans Highway is a Colorado State highway, and Summit Lake is owned by Denver Mountain parks and operated by USFS under agreement. Neither is a Clear Creek County asset.

We are fighting fees like this because we don't want Colorado to be overrun by fee stations, toll booths, and armed rangers holding our mountains hostage.
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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby ClimbandMine » Fri May 14, 2010 7:36 pm

goinforawalk wrote:Moral of the story; Most people will take advantage of anything they can..... Maybe if we put trail security guards on the mountains, these things wouldn't happen?

When I was up there last year, the route to Broken Hand Pass was in horrible shape and after traversing over to The Red Gully, I couldn't believe what I saw. It was even worse. I'm personally not surprised to see this and I really feel it's for the best. The Crestones are in horrible shape from inexperienced and unappreciative hikers. On my way back, I went all the way down The Red Gully and came back up Broken Hand Pass to find some 13-ish year old kid tossing rocks down the main route towards the lake. WTF! His dad was just sitting there watching him do it.... After watching this for about a minute, I had the nerve to tell the kid to stop and explained to him he was potentially putting peoples lives in danger and destroying the mountain at the same time. Don't worry, I was polite. After I spoke my peace, the southern twang speaking father told me he was sorry.

I don't know, sorry for the rant.... But, personally I don't have a single problem if I have to pay $10-$20 to do something I love to do! And, hopefully this will deter some of the people that don't appreciate the hills or maybe it will make them realize the impact they are leaving by not staying on the FREE trail that is provided to us by the fine state of CO and all the hard working volunteers that maintain them.

Once again, sorry for the rant.



Honestly, how would a fee change this behavior? It would just cost dad $20 to watch his kid through rocks at someone next time.
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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby JE242 » Fri May 14, 2010 8:19 pm

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Last edited by JE242 on Mon May 17, 2010 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby traderaaron » Fri May 14, 2010 9:15 pm

Just some thoughts on fees after reading Economic Calculation and the Limits of Organization.

Here's a line from the textbook quoting Mises: In short, without market-generated prices for both capital and consumer goods, even the most dedicated planner would find it “impossible” to allocate resources according to consumer wants.

In essence I believe this is the problem we as users and the FS as administrators are facing.

I am not fully sure how budgets and FS resources are allocated but I assume it's according to visitor use and then whatever projects are budgeted for. However, without market information, prices are the simplest form of that information, the Forest Service can't be fully aware of what the market, that's us, wants and needs out of wilderness resources. They just don't have a market that aggregates this information in the form of price versus supply and demand of wilderness.

Logging, grazing, mining, skiing, all generate at least some market information and prices for the Forest Service to base decisions off of although in most cases even this is not true market price information.

Supply and demand (variable) generated use fees in place of arguably arbitrary budgets and spending decisions regarding resource allocation would seem like a place to start to truly asses user interest and needs and direct the Forest Service funds and actions accordingly. This would require a complete overhaul of Forest Service management decisions and practices and a change in what public lands really mean to different users. It might also mean that the way to limit overuse is rationing by price

Wilderness experiences are a very limited resource and we should entertain the best ideas for allocating that limited resource, our arguments here on 14ers seem to suggest that current methods are not satisfactory. If users of public lands that pay fees such as skiing, mining, timber, grazing, campgrounds, parks etc. are generating some of the only pricing information the Forest Service has then I fear that more wilderness oriented users that don't generate such fees and information start to get left out. If the Forest Service doesn't truly know what users want and if it really doesn't matter to them what we want since we truly are not customers then satisfaction is likely to be lacking.

Maybe a graduate student in Wilderness Economics or Conservation or some such field would have more to say on the subject, I am just amateur and thought I'd address it from a purely economics stand point.

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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Fri May 14, 2010 9:31 pm

Here's a KDVR (Fox 31) story on the issue in South Colony Lakes. Lloyd Athearn, Executive Director of the CFI, was interviewed for this.

http://www.kdvr.com/videobeta/aa4ed872-213e-4c4f-9eb8-fe8394821dfb/News/Forest-service-mulls-fees-for-climbing-fourteeners

The final statement by the reporter (Jon Bowman) is pretty funny. When did the Grand Teton become a 14er?!!?
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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby coloradokevin » Fri May 14, 2010 11:04 pm

BillMiddlebrook wrote:Here's a KDVR (Fox 31) story on the issue in South Colony Lakes. Lloyd Athearn, Executive Director of the CFI, was interviewed for this.

http://www.kdvr.com/videobeta/aa4ed872-213e-4c4f-9eb8-fe8394821dfb/News/Forest-service-mulls-fees-for-climbing-fourteeners

The final statement by the reporter (Jon Bowman) is pretty funny. When did the Grand Teton become a 14er?!!?



That was quite amusing.

Unfortunately I fear that we've reached a point in our society where many folks either really don't mind being nickle-and-dimed to death, or are simply numb to the concept. We are so accustomed to fees for damn near everything that we do, that most people barely give these stories a second thought (even a share of the membership on this site, albeit a small one, supports additional fees). For example, I think I have to pay 7 different taxes/fees on my cellphone bill alone!

But, I think this is a slippery road down which we are traveling at ever increasing speeds, and I hate to imagine the day when any simple walk in ANY of our mountains will cost us some "user fee" money.

For those of you who have been hiking a while, I wonder if you remember what things were like just 5 years ago? 10 years ago? 15 years ago? It seems like every season brings more fees, higher fees, and more logistical red-tape before we can access OUR mountains.

Does this really do anything positive for the trails? I honestly doubt it. I've voluntarily given money to groups like the Access Fund and the 14'ers Initiative in the past, and I think that those types of organizations really do a lot to improve the situation on the mountains (sustainable trails, access guarantees, etc). But, I don't support the idea of mandatory blanket fees for visiting a wilderness... The whole idea of wilderness travel fees seem to fall in direct contradiction to a famous (and often quoted) section of the Wilderness Act:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”


The wilderness is set aside for nature to reign supreme, with man as a mere visitor, yet I'm supposed to pay "the man" when I go there? Ridiculous.

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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby AlpineHigh » Sat May 15, 2010 7:32 am

coloradokevin wrote:
That was quite amusing.

Unfortunately I fear that we've reached a point in our society where many folks either really don't mind being nickle-and-dimed to death, or are simply numb to the concept. We are so accustomed to fees for damn near everything that we do, that most people barely give these stories a second thought (even a share of the membership on this site, albeit a small one, supports additional fees). For example, I think I have to pay 7 different taxes/fees on my cellphone bill alone!

But, I think this is a slippery road down which we are traveling at ever increasing speeds, and I hate to imagine the day when any simple walk in ANY of our mountains will cost us some "user fee" money.

For those of you who have been hiking a while, I wonder if you remember what things were like just 5 years ago? 10 years ago? 15 years ago? It seems like every season brings more fees, higher fees, and more logistical red-tape before we can access OUR mountains.

Does this really do anything positive for the trails? I honestly doubt it. I've voluntarily given money to groups like the Access Fund and the 14'ers Initiative in the past, and I think that those types of organizations really do a lot to improve the situation on the mountains (sustainable trails, access guarantees, etc). But, I don't support the idea of mandatory blanket fees for visiting a wilderness... The whole idea of wilderness travel fees seem to fall in direct contradiction to a famous (and often quoted) section of the Wilderness Act:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”


The wilderness is set aside for nature to reign supreme, with man as a mere visitor, yet I'm supposed to pay "the man" when I go there? Ridiculous.


Totally agree about the slippery slope - it seems that everything always builds on the precedents set forth in certain places (and I suppose Mt.Evans could be a good example). I really dread the idea of paying more money to use the land that is already "owned" by the public and maintained with our tax dollars. That is why I typically recreate in the National Forests instead of the Parks.

It would be hard for me to assume that trails, campgrounds, and other forest facilities would be in the same shape if fee systems were not in place but I can agree that if fee money goes into a big pot, then I'm sure that increasing fees doesn't necessarily mean more money to forest maintenance (likely to overhead).

I would love to see some sort of proposal to limit impact that can do so without the need for a fee system and without limiting use to the point of creating a waiting line to get into areas. Are there any other countries that have anything like what I am mentioning in place that could be used as a model?
"The mountains are calling, and I must go."
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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby AlpineHigh » Sat May 15, 2010 7:51 am

g wrote:
AlpineHigh wrote:As far as the mountain goes, they staff the fee station, pay for Interpretive Rangers who provide informative and might I label them "entertaining" programs, regarding wildlife, history, and other topics. Rovers go up and down the mountain assisting visitors in distress (medical and vehicle issues), provide water to those who do not have enough (mostly cyclists who bring less then a liter!) clean bathrooms and stock them with toilet paper and hand sanitizer, and on occasion hand out citations.

Sounds like Club Med up there. It's a jobs program (with greatly inflated pay and benefits), pure and simple. They could instead install a self-service pay station, interpretive/warning signs, and a drinking fountain, but no.


It's far from Club Med (in my humble opinion) and more like a Park. It's not what you refer to as a "Jobs program" - and I felt that the pay was fair considering the hazards and daily tasks that I was required to complete (and I received no benefits). As you suggested, there are in fact an automated pay-station, interpretive/warning signs, but alas, no water fountain. It was quite funny explaining to people that we could not install plumbing all the way to the top.

I feel that the Interp program on the mountain is probably the most valuable asset they have (could be biased because I was an Interpretive Ranger). Here is my reasoning. The majority of the people that go up there have very little knowledge of the mountains, wildlife, or even history of the area. I could teach these people more about the mountain in 30 minutes then they could ever learn from an interpretive sign. Having a personal experience with someone who cares about our natural world, like an Interpretive Ranger, is more likely to give visitors a sense of responsibility to take care of the land they recreate on, not just use it (and often abuse it too).

National Parks have these programs along with a lot more (which I often complain about - the amount of development that is). Do you think that it's a bad idea to have these educational programs in high-use areas where people can possibly be educated on a very personal level? Would a sign do a better job? Can inner-city kids from Denver going to the mountains really learn as much or more from a sign then an educated knowledgeable individual?
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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby cftbq » Sat May 15, 2010 7:52 am

coloradokevin wrote:The wilderness is set aside for nature to reign supreme, with man as a mere visitor, yet I'm supposed to pay "the man" when I go there? Ridiculous.


+1
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and the power that animates the universe. That may not
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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby Jon Frohlich » Sat May 15, 2010 8:21 am

coloradokevin wrote:For those of you who have been hiking a while, I wonder if you remember what things were like just 5 years ago? 10 years ago? 15 years ago? It seems like every season brings more fees, higher fees, and more logistical red-tape before we can access OUR mountains.


Actually in the 9 years I've been out hiking little to nothing has changed. Culebra has changed ownership. CFI has improved a bunch of trails. Signage has improved. Prices for the train have gone up but that's private enterprise. That's about it. Can you give any real examples of what new fees have been put in place since 2000? Only real one I can think of is that now there is a fee station at Wild Basin in RMNP. I was paying at Brainard Lake back then already. I can't think of anything on the 14ers that has changed besides Culebra and that's a private ownership issue and nothing to do with this.

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Re: Forrest Service 14er Fee

Postby ClimbandMine » Sat May 15, 2010 10:24 am

Jon Frohlich wrote:
coloradokevin wrote:For those of you who have been hiking a while, I wonder if you remember what things were like just 5 years ago? 10 years ago? 15 years ago? It seems like every season brings more fees, higher fees, and more logistical red-tape before we can access OUR mountains.


Actually in the 9 years I've been out hiking little to nothing has changed. Culebra has changed ownership. CFI has improved a bunch of trails. Signage has improved. Prices for the train have gone up but that's private enterprise. That's about it. Can you give any real examples of what new fees have been put in place since 2000? Only real one I can think of is that now there is a fee station at Wild Basin in RMNP. I was paying at Brainard Lake back then already. I can't think of anything on the 14ers that has changed besides Culebra and that's a private ownership issue and nothing to do with this.


The Mt. Evans fee dates to about 1996?

Mt. Democrat "Fee Demo" Fee.

White River Forest "Voluntary" tracking permits -- Snowmass, Capital and the Bells/Pyramid

The Bells/Pyramid Maroon Lake shuttle / fee - I don't think its more than 15 years old. Could be wrong. The first time I went over there I didn't pay, and I started 14ers in '97.
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