Forum
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...

Fees for South Colony Basin

Colorado 14ers access and fee issues only, please
User avatar
Posts: 2438
Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 3:59 pm
Location: Littleton, CO

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby MountainHiker » Thu May 20, 2010 10:39 am

mattpayne11 wrote:One does have to wonder how these things are decided, considering Grays and Torreys, etc are all used a lot more frequently than South Colony. My assumption is that there must be considerable damage to the ecosystem in the area and that any fee would be implemented in the hopes of curtailing those damages and to generate revenue to amend the situation. Any thoughts?

Perhaps it’s because a higher portion of South Colony users spend the night, compared to the day trippers on peaks closer to Denver.
Red, Rugged, and Rotten: The Elk Range - Borneman & Lampert

User avatar
Posts: 1046
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 11:23 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby mattpayne11 » Thu May 20, 2010 10:50 am

GarySwing wrote:I oppose the access fees proposed for these peaks. I also agree with the comments by Del Sur and Colorado Kevin regarding the road improvements. It was a waste of money and resources for the Forest Service to improve the South Colony road. Spending all that money to improve the road and then closing it is absurd. I think maintaining and constructing roads should be the Forest Service's lowest priority. I also agree that the one improvement I'd like to see would be to add privies to some of these heavily used trailheads to improve sanitation. There are privies along most of the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail, many of them far from any road.

I expect that the number of people hiking Colorado's fourteeners has pretty much hit its peak and will start to decline. Most people who climb fourteeners drive hundreds of miles on summer weekends in order to hike a few miles in the mountains. This impact has been facilitated by the availability of cheap fossil fuels and easy road access. Road development and improvement encourages heavy usage. The age of cheap fossil fuel is coming to an end. We have passed the peak of global oil production and entered a period in which oil supplies will continue to decline as demand continues to grow, which will cause gasoline prices to rise dramatically. The Department of Energy's own, probably overly optimistic projections, show global oil production being cut by about 50% between 2010 and 2030, so that the oil supply will be about 40% of the demand by 2030. The fossil fuel economy is on the brink of collapse. Hopping into an SUV to drive hundreds of miles for a weekend of peakbagging is a luxury that very few people will be able to continuing pursuing in the years to come. How many people will spend $5, $10, or $20 per gallon of gas for weekend warrior peakbagging at a time of economic collapse? By 2020 or 2030, I expect that the number of climbers impacting Colorado's fourteener trails will be greatly diminished from the number climbing them today.

Cheers,

Gary Swing
Colorado Thirteener Completer (2007)
Appalachian Trail thru hiker (2008)
Colorado Trail finisher (2009)


Gary, good analysis; however, I am not sure that the economy won't respond with new technology. Hybrid tech is improving each year, as well as battery and solar powered tech. I think that you are spot-on about the fact that fossil fuels are going to be getting more and more expensive, especially considering that developing countries are starting to increase demand significantly; however, I do not believe that the doom and gloom scenario you are projecting will come to fruition, at least not as dramatically as you are stating it.

MountainHiker wrote:Perhaps it’s because a higher portion of South Colony users spend the night, compared to the day trippers on peaks closer to Denver.


I think that is a great point! I also wonder if local politics have anything to do with it.

User avatar
Posts: 325
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 2:37 pm
Location: Denver

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby James Scott » Thu May 20, 2010 10:52 am

The fees keep refering to camping and hiking in South Colony. Does this mean the mountains will be free if we use the Willow Lake approach from the west? Not just refering to this specific set of mountians, but how many basins and how many approaches lead to summits of 14ers? Will the fees specifically be for using these basins and valleys, or for standing on top of the mountian? And if it is for standing on top of the mountain, what if someone stops a few feet short of the summit?

Honestly, I don't think they could really enforce these fees given that they would have to patrol 360 degress of the peaks 24 hours a day. I'm not suggesting that everyone decide to break the law and ignor the fees, but I've always thought it was kind of common sense not to create rules that can't be enforced. As a teacher, I've had this conversation in many meetings. You should never tempt the honest people, because everyone has a breaking point.
"Some climb... to get to Terrapin."

Online
User avatar
Posts: 7311
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:23 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby Jim Davies » Thu May 20, 2010 11:00 am

Somewhere in the FS documents they say that climbing Humboldt via North Colony Lakes or the east ridge wouldn't require a fee, so the west side of the Crestones would also be free (for now).

And you're right, there's no way they could enforce these fees, so they will wind up being mostly voluntary. Parking fees would be much easier to administer. The Colorado State Parks model seems to be a decent one: charge for vehicles, and sell annual passes good for the whole state for a reasonable cost. Too bad we have so many different National Forest administrations in this state (which might be the real difference between South Colony and the I-70 14ers).
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

User avatar
Posts: 1046
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 11:23 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby mattpayne11 » Thu May 20, 2010 11:13 am

Jim Davies wrote:Somewhere in the FS documents they say that climbing Humboldt via North Colony Lakes or the east ridge wouldn't require a fee, so the west side of the Crestones would also be free (for now).

And you're right, there's no way they could enforce these fees, so they will wind up being mostly voluntary. Parking fees would be much easier to administer. The Colorado State Parks model seems to be a decent one: charge for vehicles, and sell annual passes good for the whole state for a reasonable cost. Too bad we have so many different National Forest administrations in this state (which might be the real difference between South Colony and the I-70 14ers).


Jim, I suspected the same thing and believe it to be a good hypothesis. I think that the Colorado NFS as a whole should discuss a comprehensive system that is fair and addresses concerns in a logical fashion.

User avatar
Posts: 2266
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:35 pm

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby Matt » Thu May 20, 2010 11:15 am

Dan England wrote:Here's my take on it for the Greeley Tribune. What do you guys think?


Overall, it reads to me like a shoddy attempt to manipulate folks to accepting a viewpoint, with spare bits of evidence taking a distant backseat to emotionally-based claims that only seem to make sense if your readers already agree with you.

1. Why are we overdue for fees? If the fees are unjustified in this case (no amenities) two wrongs don't make a right, do they? Lemmings and all...
1a. Rainier and Hood... I think that comparison fits the hackneyed "apples to oranges" idea. The S. Colony situation hardly mirrors those of Rainier or Hood. To kick off that discussion, compare the visitation numbers of each. There are scads of other details that don't match, making your attempt to link them seem a bit spurious.

2. By asserting that fees are necessary for trail maintenance, you marginalize a few things, intentionally or not (though this helps your premise).
a. You pay perfunctory lip service to the CFI or Rocky Mountain Field Institute, but your column essentially discounts their efforts. It seems these groups do far more than the FS to maintain 14er trails at SC & elsewhere. Perhaps your donation should have been more substantial?
b. There is no reason to believe that fees would stay at SC to improve the area. It goes in a big pot, no? Perhaps the reason things have gone so far downhill (?) is because the FS hasn't used the funds it has already to improve trails. Do you think collecting more money will lead to them taking over and improving upon the work already done by the folks mentioned above?

3. It's not always true that past performance is a reliable indicator of what's to come... However, as Coloradokevin and I have noted above, the recent history of the SC road/area includes this general time line:
--We start with an access road that carries a well-deserved reputation for being one of Colorado's worst. It seems reasonable that this kept use and impact down. It took some real effort or expenditure (buying a solid 4wd) to get there. Anecdotal crap is usually that, but FWIW, I avoided the area for three years because of this. When I finally arrived, there were only hikers and people in comparatively rare 4wds that could make it.
--The FS spends some money (from fees collected elsewhere, taxes, etc) and "improves" the road, making access to far more vehicles and people quite easy. When I return, there are Subarus, Hummers, Suburbans, and Denalis at the upper TH--lots more people than before. Visitation goes up, as does the impact on the area, which is lamentable, I agree.
--The FS closes the road after spending lots of money, and now wants to charge fees.
I can be myopic, but can't at this time see how someone would want to support giving more money to an agency that operates in such an apparently haphazard fashion.

I also worry about our state's aforementioned budget crunch and if the state might dip into the “14ers fund.”

4. The US Forest Service is not beholden to the State of Colorado. How are the state's education and budgetary woes linked in any way to the state of trails on Federally controlled land? Am I missing something here about how things work (it happens often)? If not, was that intended to manipulate readers or simply an honest mistake?

I don't relish the idea of paying for what seems like the last free, fun activity on Earth.

Clearly, neither do I. However, you had the chance to complete the 14ers without paying fees (except non-taxpayer subsidized Culebra) as did I.
Do you really feel justified in denying others that chance? That seems a bit hypocritical to me. Not everyone shares your apparent hysteria about the mountains needing to be saved from extinction by fees.
If there were any way to assure that the fees would benefit the area being charged for, your stance would make more sense to me. It looks to me like the sky isn't falling, and your children (George Carlin just rolled over in his grave) will have the chance to climb some mountains, fees or no.

Your flexible permit idea is innovative and helpful, but only if fees are necessary and/or justified.

Personally, I'm down with Lao Tzu and the Taoists in terms of how we should treat and imitate nature, but recognize that you can't legislate morality or change behavior with fees:
The more laws and restrictions there are, The poorer people become.

I prefer to lead by example, not by forcing my will or beliefs on others.
Your thoughts, Mr. England?
We are all greater artists than we realize -FWN
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -HDT
Peak List

Posts: 1925
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:42 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby CorduroyCalves » Thu May 20, 2010 11:28 am

GarySwing wrote:
I oppose the access fees proposed for these peaks. I also agree with the comments by Del Sur and Colorado Kevin regarding the road improvements. It was a waste of money and resources for the Forest Service to improve the South Colony road. Spending all that money to improve the road and then closing it is absurd. I think maintaining and constructing roads should be the Forest Service's lowest priority. I also agree that the one improvement I'd like to see would be to add privies to some of these heavily used trailheads to improve sanitation. There are privies along most of the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail, many of them far from any road.

I expect that the number of people hiking Colorado's fourteeners has pretty much hit its peak and will start to decline. Most people who climb fourteeners drive hundreds of miles on summer weekends in order to hike a few miles in the mountains. This impact has been facilitated by the availability of cheap fossil fuels and easy road access. Road development and improvement encourages heavy usage. The age of cheap fossil fuel is coming to an end. We have passed the peak of global oil production and entered a period in which oil supplies will continue to decline as demand continues to grow, which will cause gasoline prices to rise dramatically. The Department of Energy's own, probably overly optimistic projections, show global oil production being cut by about 50% between 2010 and 2030, so that the oil supply will be about 40% of the demand by 2030. The fossil fuel economy is on the brink of collapse. Hopping into an SUV to drive hundreds of miles for a weekend of peakbagging is a luxury that very few people will be able to continuing pursuing in the years to come. How many people will spend $5, $10, or $20 per gallon of gas for weekend warrior peakbagging at a time of economic collapse? By 2020 or 2030, I expect that the number of climbers impacting Colorado's fourteener trails will be greatly diminished from the number climbing them today.


Good points, Gary, especially regarding fossil fuels. Here's my one question for you--if you wish to see more privies at certain trailheads (a good idea IMO), but you don't want to see a day-use fee charged, how do you propose it gets funded? I'm guessing your idea would be regarding the shift of priorities from road building to other necessities like privies, but was just curious to know what your thoughts were. Cheers!
Life is too short to pay full retail for outdoor gear!

"God has cared for these trees, saved them from draught, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempasts and floods; but he cannot save them from fools; only Uncle Sam can do that."--John Muir

Posts: 3864
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:56 pm

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby tmathews » Thu May 20, 2010 11:43 am

Well, this article just came out, so now's our chance to let them know what we think!

http://www.wetmountaintribune.com/home.asp?i=542&p=5

User avatar
Posts: 1541
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 7:33 pm
Location: Arvada, CO

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby coloradokevin » Thu May 20, 2010 2:03 pm

Dan England wrote:Here's my take on it for the Greeley Tribune. What do you guys think?



http://www.greeleytribune.com/article/20100520/READERS/100519615/1025&parentprofile=1025


Don't say you didn't ask :mrgreen:

Dan England wrote:I no longer climb nearly as many mountains as I used to thanks to my three little ones. But the five years I spent chasing the 14ers were some of the best of my life.

Those memories, to me, are priceless.

Just maybe not any longer.


I prefer to keep those priceless memories, and enjoy the splender and wildness of nature, without automated pay stations.


Dan England wrote:I can see why the Forest Service chose to float its idea of charging for access to this area first. It's worth the money.


But, I still think it is unethical to charge money for the climb. The experience may be worth $10/20 for you, but it doesn't mean that you should have to pay it. If someone were to deny you oxygen right now, there'd be no sum of money you wouldn't be willing to pay to have it back; it still isn't right to deny you oxygen, even if it is "worth" something to you (granted, apples and oranges in that analogy.

The USFS manages our forests, but they did not create the forest, or the mountains. Enjoying the wilderness ought to be an intrinsic right of every citizen of this country, and there should be no charge to enjoy these wonders under normal circumstances (hikers are not comparable to mining operations, grazing operations, etc. In essence, we do not take from the land).


Dan England wrote:By now we should know the free ride is over. It was a fun ride: I paid for access to one 14er during my quest — if you don't count the money I spent on gas, equipment and post-hike cheeseburgers — and that was $150 for the privately owned Culebra and its sister peak, Red Mountain.


I disagree. It wasn't a "ride" to begin with, and this isn't equivalent to a free day at the zoo, or Elitch Gardens (which are both man-made parks, filled with expensive "attractions" that need to be paid for). You enjoyed the mountains free of charge, and the generations of hikers who have (and will) come after you should also be afforded that opportunity.

Your mention of equipment and cheeseburgers brings to mind the emerging argument that paying access fees is a small ancillary cost when compared to the overall price of climbing a mountain. Personally, I've always resented the now-popular notion that "access fees" are such a drop in the proverbial bucket, given how much we each allegedly spend on gear, food, and transportation.

I've seen a few recent articles (including one written by the San Isabel National Forest) that I believe are flawed in the manner in which they attempt to apply the results of that now-famous 2007 economic study of 14'ers climbing. This study might have been useful in demonstrating how climbers bring some additional money into the small mountain towns, but it certainly doesn't demonstrate that all of this money wouldn't have been spent had the people not been climbing. Plenty of folks travel for vacations that don't involve climbing, and everyone eats food on a daily basis. On top of that, if my memory serves me correctly, this study also included figures that represented the travel habits of out-of-state climbers; clearly a person who has traveled cross-country on a vacation is spending more to climb a 14'er than someone who lives 40 miles away from one. Needless to say, I've never spent the kind of money that this CSU study claims I should have!

To expand on that particular concept, I should point out that my gear is a durable product that lasts for many years, and it cost a private company money to design/produce. Moreover, I don't necessarily need to buy gear to enjoy the mountains (I'll gladly show you guys some pictures from my early backpacking days, where I wore whatever clothes I already owned -- I was one pathetic looking mountain bum, but I sure was having the time of my life, even sans Gore Tex).

Next, the food issue is a bit laughable. When I'm not traveling, I still eat at home each and every day. Don't you?

It is true that the majority of us shell out some gas money to go to the mountains, but we are also buying a product for that money, and it costs money to bring that product to market. You are certainly entitled to walk to the mountains, or ride your bike, free of charge! While this doesn't always sound practical, the point I'm trying to make is simply that no one is forcing you to buy gas for your trip to the mountains. Instead, the USFS is attempting to force you to pay to walk into the peace and quiet of a natural wilderness environment; a place where, "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.” (credit the aforementioned quote to the Wilderness Act of 1964).

Dan England wrote:The rest of our 14ers need the money as well. One of my many memories of my quest comes from a climb of Kit Carson, only it's not a pleasant one. Climbers' trails, or trails made from people like me, braided the mountain like varicose veins. I remember feeling guilty as I made my way up.


The 14'ers are giant natural rock piles. What do they need money for, and how is fee collection going to protect them?

Yes, it is true that social trails aren't a desirable trait on popular mountains. But, will fee collection system stop people from walking off of a trail, or forging their own route to the summits of difficult peaks? For that matter, why won't this problem begin to solve itself as high-quality sustainable trails are built by volunteer organizations such as the Colorado Fourteener's Initiative, among others?

Even without the dedicated hard work of volunteer groups, the USFS could have made better decisions regarding the original management of this area. For instance, instead of "improving" the rough road to S. Colony Lakes (which resulted in increased visitation), they could have left the road as it was, and instead routed the money towards maintenance of the trails that you found to be so displeasing. I find it a bit interesting that an overwhelming majority of hikers seem opposed to fees, yet most of us are perfectly okay with the idea of the USFS closing the road (if necessary for the preservation of an area). Not only does that save money for the USFS, it also saves money for each of us!

Incidentally, the volunteer trails groups have spent more moeny and endured more of the grunt work in this basin than the USFS has. The USFS even admits this fact in their own publications.


Dan England wrote:But maintaining those trails will be expensive, and many other 14ers need a lot of work. Quite frankly, that's not a priority when the state is so broke that education funding is viewed as a luxury.


The whole concept of a sustainable trail would imply exactly the opposite. That is, maintaining a well-built trail shouldn't be prohibitively expensive, and there is honestly no reason to believe that these trails wouldn't be able to receive continuing maintenance from volunteer groups, and token expenditures on the part of the USFS.

For the sake of clarity, the state of Colorado is not paying for federal land.

Dan England wrote:California charges for a permit up the famous Mount Whitney. Oregon charges for a permit up Mount Rainier. We're overdue.


Make no mistake about this point, we are NOT in California (population 37 million), we are in Colorado (population 5 million). I fear the day when this state begins to become anything remotely close to what California is like. Just because it is right for California does not mean it is right for Colorado.

Also, Mt. Rainier is in WASHINGTON state, not Oregon. Aside from that little discrepancy, Mt. Rainier is also a vastly different environment than the Colorado 14'ers, and is located within a National Park; most of us have already resigned ourselves to paying for play in the developed national parks. Mt Rainier draws in FAR more climbers than the S. Colony Lakes area (10,000 annually, vs the 3,000-4,500 in S. Colony Lakes), for a climb that is much more committing. Beyond that, many climbers on Rainier climb with established guide services, on a glaciated peak with many hazards, which is usually climbed over the course of several days.


Dan England wrote:I also worry about our state's aforementioned budget crunch and if the state might dip into the “14ers fund.”


Again, not to pick on you, but the state's budget has little to do with federal land, and even less to do with wilderness (which by definition is managed through a lack of human management, in a sense).

User avatar
Posts: 59
Joined: Sun Dec 10, 2006 12:55 am
Location: Iowa

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby Falcon3 » Thu May 20, 2010 2:58 pm

As much as I hate paying fees for things, money has to come from somewhere. I believe that this is a multi-faceted situation. The USFS needs money. What do they need money for? Well the #1 answer is FIRE. In the last 10 years, the USFS fire budget has increased from 20% of their total budget to almost 50%. Continued expansion of human development into previously wild lands has increased the need for fire suppression in those areas. Also, poor fire management practices (such as having hundreds of firefighters working on fires exclusively in wilderness from natural strikes, instead of letting natural processes occur) have in turn led to a staggering national and USFS budget on fire. This budget problem makes it very difficult to provide any kind of services (maintainance of the road, trash collection, funds for SAR or other incidents). If you would like, I'm sure the USFS can just start logging the South Colony Lakes to make up for their budget programs.

I see fees for this as no different than any other fees you pay to use "public goods." Every time you drive your car, you pay gas taxes that help pay for road services. People that drive less pay less in gas taxes. This is no different. THe people that use South Colony Lakes more will pay more.

The solution is simple. You pay the fee, or you don't. If you disagree with the law, disobey it. This is America so to ahead and protest. If you get caught you pay the fine.

Posts: 1925
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:42 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby CorduroyCalves » Thu May 20, 2010 3:29 pm

I think wildwilderness.org's mission statement is very-well stated: "Wild Wilderness believes that America's public recreation lands are a national treasure that must be financially supported by the American people and held in public ownership as a legacy for future generations." To me, the solution is simple--increase the funding for our forests and then there'll be no reason to charge a fee.
Life is too short to pay full retail for outdoor gear!

"God has cared for these trees, saved them from draught, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempasts and floods; but he cannot save them from fools; only Uncle Sam can do that."--John Muir

User avatar
Posts: 2361
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:26 pm
Location: The nether regions. CO

Re: Fees for South Colony Basin

Postby covfrrider » Thu May 20, 2010 3:37 pm

CorduroyCalves wrote:I think wildwilderness.org's mission statement is very-well stated: "Wild Wilderness believes that America's public recreation lands are a national treasure that must be financially supported by the American people and held in public ownership as a legacy for future generations." To me, the solution is simple--increase the funding for our forests and then there'll be no reason to charge a fee.


You libtards sure like the word "must" when it comes to other peoples money, huh?

PreviousNext

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests