Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
chrisca
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Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by chrisca » March 7th, 2018, 11:56 am

I don't want to hijack adamschneider's thread. This one focuses on the process of setting up the permit system. It wasn't public, even though other permit systems, such as the one being considered for Mt. Jefferson, are. This is the first instance in the Gorge of controlled access to a trail system, and as such it should have participation by the hiking community. I know that Friends of the Gorge was consulted, but said they didn't believe it was necessary to have a public process. I don't know about TKO, or more importantly, WTA. If anyone knows, please reply.

A precedent is being set here where decisions are made only by the agencies and interest groups, setting up a hierarchy where the people being affected have no direct involvement. I don't think that's healthy for the hiking community. It also reduces compliance when the people being regulated have no say about the regulations.

I'll be the first to say we should set some limits on heavily-used Gorge trails. However, I think the hiking community needs to be a part of the process of doing that. If we roll over on this one, more will come and before we know it we'll have lots of reduced access and unfortunately, not much in the way of new trails to compensate for it since the Forest Service is dragging its feet on building any new trails.

What are people here thinking about this, and what should we do? Thanks.

If you'd like to comment to the Forest Service, contact Lynn Burditt, lburditt [at] fs.fed.us. She is the area manager for the Gorge Scenic Area. Her phone number: 541-308-1706.
Last edited by chrisca on March 9th, 2018, 3:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Chip Down
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Re: Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by Chip Down » March 7th, 2018, 9:05 pm

chrisca wrote: If we roll over on this one, more will come and before we know it we'll have lots of reduced access and unfortunately, not much in the way of new trails to compensate for it since the Forest Service is dragging its feet on building any new trails.
Agreed. I think they see this as a test to see what they can get away with. I have no doubt they already have tentative plans to expand permitting and raise ticket prices.
chrisca wrote:I'll be the first to say we should set some limits on heavily-used Gorge trails.
The Dog permit/fee is to control parking, not trail use.
chrisca wrote: What should we do?
Burn Dog Mountain. Boycott Dog Mountain. Spit on the ticket-checker when we walk by him. Build our own trails. Take up other hobbies, like stamp collecting or bowling. Refuse to pay the bridge toll, so things even out. Leave your trail pass on your windshield, and claim you were confused by all the crazy fees. Start in the dark so you can see sunrise from the top, stay up there all day, watch the sunset, and hike down in the dark. Find a longer cheaper route to the top. Photoshop yourself into a Dog Mt photo and post that on instagram. Hike Wind Mountain and gaze longingly over at Dog Mountain where you'd rather be. Hike illegally in Oregon. Bribe the ticket-checker with a cold frosty beer. Wear a tree costume and freeze whenever the ticket-checker looks in your direction.

BTW, does the public-comment phase of a scheme ever change anything?

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Guy
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Re: Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by Guy » March 7th, 2018, 9:15 pm

chrisca wrote:
A precedent is being set here where decisions are made only by the agencies and interest groups, setting up a hierarchy where the people being affected have no direct involvement. I don't think that's healthy for the hiking community. It also reduces compliance when the people being regulated have no say about the regulations.
.
100% Agree
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Walkin' Fool
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Re: Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by Walkin' Fool » March 8th, 2018, 9:45 am

Does anyone have a Forest Service contact name for this situation? Although it's after the fact, I'd still like to make my displeasure known. Maybe if enough people complain it won't become a precedent....

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adamschneider
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Re: Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by adamschneider » March 8th, 2018, 1:32 pm

All of you who are complaining about the new permits: what would YOUR solution have been? Can you seriously think of a minimally disruptive alternative scheme that would keep the hordes down to fewer than 500 people per day on weekends?

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Bosterson
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Re: Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by Bosterson » March 8th, 2018, 1:48 pm

adamschneider wrote:Can you seriously think of a minimally disruptive alternative scheme that would keep the hordes down to fewer than 500 people per day on weekends?
Outside of preventing people from being hit by cars on the highway, why should this be a desirable goal?

I can think of lots of other things they could have done, especially considering all the reportage on the new permits indicates that they're at least partly in response to increased usage caused by the fire and the whole OR side being closed. Perhaps they could reopen the Mitchel Point trail, which - as far as I can tell - was not "near" the fire in any way aside from the fact that it's on the same side of the river. Perhaps they could work on reopening TH access to Table Mountain from closer than Bonneville Dam. Perhaps they could eliminate the asinine Discover Pass requirement so that the hordes can overrun Hamilton... :twisted:
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Water
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Re: Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by Water » March 8th, 2018, 10:01 pm

if 500 people are comfortable going up on a weekend, more power to them. every one of those people who thinks "hey hey I know 5 hikes in the gorge, angel's rest, eagle creek, dog mountain, oneonta, and rowena crest" and repeatedly hammers those hikes with 1000 of their closest friends is one less person who has that modus operandi who is going somewhere that is less crowded and bringing their friends with them.

I do busy hikes occasionally but I never am upset about the people, I just laugh at the shit-show of it. If I'm upset it's super crowded or someone is talking loud or only there for their instafame, that's my problem. Go earlier. Go later. Go on a weekday, etc. Or find something less popular.

the permits and fees are an erosion of access, frankly. Planning day hikes months in advance due to permit sales/limits is not realistic for a lot of folks, more power to those that do, but even then the permit process is fraught with problems (see MSHI..), and people buy permits when they go on sale but they don't all get used by any stretch of the imagination. There is no penalty for this. This applies to things like Obsidian, Pamelia, and firetower lookouts as well. Hell, people will book things for an extra day ahead to get it over the weekend, and not show up the first day. I even have seen this in state parks, spots booked online and nobody shows up.. it sits empty. That's not good usage.

The fantastic increased usage of the outdoors should be a clear mandate for the forest service to create new trails and improve existing options (make more parking, enhance trail stability, keep ranger presence at sensitive areas during high use times, brush out/don't abandon/decommission trails). But instead we're seeing the FS's only response is to limit access. The self-reporting wilderness permit you fill out which is supposed to help the FS learn more about usage only gets used against hikers, by limiting access. I do not fill those out at all anymore.

All of this sets a stage for the continued outsourcing and potential privatization of public resources. The FS will set the stage, and in time it will be a for-profit company that administrates access to places. Then it will be a pay to play scenario for the best of the public gems. It already is to some degree.
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Charley
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Re: Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by Charley » March 8th, 2018, 11:35 pm

Water wrote:if 500 people are comfortable going up on a weekend, more power to them. every one of those people who thinks "hey hey I know 5 hikes in the gorge, angel's rest, eagle creek, dog mountain, oneonta, and rowena crest" and repeatedly hammers those hikes with 1000 of their closest friends is one less person who has that modus operandi who is going somewhere that is less crowded and bringing their friends with them.

I do busy hikes occasionally but I never am upset about the people, I just laugh at the shit-show of it. If I'm upset it's super crowded or someone is talking loud or only there for their instafame, that's my problem. Go earlier. Go later. Go on a weekday, etc. Or find something less popular.

the permits and fees are an erosion of access, frankly. Planning day hikes months in advance due to permit sales/limits is not realistic for a lot of folks, more power to those that do, but even then the permit process is fraught with problems (see MSHI..), and people buy permits when they go on sale but they don't all get used by any stretch of the imagination. There is no penalty for this. This applies to things like Obsidian, Pamelia, and firetower lookouts as well. Hell, people will book things for an extra day ahead to get it over the weekend, and not show up the first day. I even have seen this in state parks, spots booked online and nobody shows up.. it sits empty. That's not good usage.

The fantastic increased usage of the outdoors should be a clear mandate for the forest service to create new trails and improve existing options (make more parking, enhance trail stability, keep ranger presence at sensitive areas during high use times, brush out/don't abandon/decommission trails). But instead we're seeing the FS's only response is to limit access. The self-reporting wilderness permit you fill out which is supposed to help the FS learn more about usage only gets used against hikers, by limiting access. I do not fill those out at all anymore.

All of this sets a stage for the continued outsourcing and potential privatization of public resources. The FS will set the stage, and in time it will be a for-profit company that administrates access to places. Then it will be a pay to play scenario for the best of the public gems. It already is to some degree.
I agree. The special thing about living out West is that we have all this more-or-less unfettered access to public land. I can drive a car (or ride a bus, or walk, or ride my bike) to a place where I can, in most instances, hike where I want, set up a tarp where I want, spend the night or a few, and be on my own merry way as I fit. What glorious freedom! Our National Forests, National Grasslands, and BLM lands afford us this freedom in spades; what a shame if we gradually lose that freedom.

I love Mt St Helens, Rainier and Crater Lake, but in some respects I resent the regulation of it all: I don't like feeling a like child being allowed to visit, by kindly and watchful Rangers (great people who do a great job; all the same, there's a Big Brother quality to it- "you can only spend the night here; you cannot change plans; we must know where you are; poo here, not there").

Are these restrictions the worst? Nah. But I don't like the trend, and I would have appreciated a comment period to voice my concerns. I guess we don't rate! (Maybe if we were planning on building a mine or an LNG terminal we would have gotten a hearing!).

chrisca
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Re: Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by chrisca » March 9th, 2018, 2:57 pm

Make your comments known to Lynn Burditt, lburditt [at] fs.fed.us. She is the area manager for the Gorge Scenic Area.
Walkin' Fool wrote:Does anyone have a Forest Service contact name for this situation? Although it's after the fact, I'd still like to make my displeasure known. Maybe if enough people complain it won't become a precedent....

chrisca
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Re: Dog Mtn. Permit System Public Participation?

Post by chrisca » March 9th, 2018, 3:36 pm

I'll add a few comments. The Forest Service says this is for safety, but they've had two years to address the problem. It's only now after the Eagle Creek Fire that suddenly they wish to do something, and without asking anyone in the hiking community outside of nonprofit leadership about how to structure a solution. That steams me. The agency only wants to talk to their "partners," in other words the people who cozy up to them and won't make a stink. The FS is also denying themselves the benefit of a lot of experienced hikers who may have creative ideas for better fixes to the problem.

The current plan won't address safety because during the peak bloom season the parking lot fills up on most days of the week. So people will be walking on the highway anyway, on Mondays and Fridays especially. People will arrive to find the parking lot full, and when they do they'll have to drive back to Stevenson, and by the time they catch a shuttle it could easily be 45 minutes later. Since the last bus leaves the trailhead at 4:30, they'll have to run up the trail or shorten the hike. Most will likely need to find another place to hike. On top of that, the $1.50 permit fee won't be refunded.

There are alternatives. There's lots of parking in Home Valley, much closer than Stevenson. A shuttle from there could operate more quickly and for longer hours. Perhaps the Forest Service could work something out with Uber or Lyft to provide longer hours of service to the trailhead.

The Forest Service has collected $4 million in revenue from Gorge Scenic Area hikers in the history of the NW Forest Pass program. Of that, they've refused to spend almost $1 million of it by hoarding it in a "carryover" account. And this is the thanks we get for it. The amount of money being spent on trails when inflation adjusted is actually declining, and in 2016 only 44% of fee dollars collected were spent on recreation projects, the lowest in the fee program's history. Parking lots are being shrunk, and trail miles are being closed or have become unusable due to blowdown and no repairs have been done. Then, the fire came and took out the whole Oregon side. What happens? The FS asks for volunteers to help out and rebuild the trail system. We should refuse to lift one finger until there's a deal to build a better relationship with the hiking community, increase trail mileage, and have a commitment from the FS to create a far better trail system than we had before the fire.
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