Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

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retired jerry
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by retired jerry » May 13th, 2019, 4:36 am

Yeah, same here, it still seems like wilderness to me :)

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they're well intentioned though

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retired jerry
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by retired jerry » May 13th, 2019, 8:28 am

I called Merkley and Bonamici - got right through, still trying Wyden

I think it's best to call and talk to a human. Then they know you're not a "Russian bot". The Merkely person said they got a number of complaints. Bonamici person not. I think if they get a lot of complaints they may actually do something.

Senator Ron Wyden, Website: https://www.wyden.senate.gov (503) 326-7525
Senator Jeff Merkley, Website: https://www.merkley.senate.gov Webform (503) 326-3386
District 1 – Suzanne Bonamici, Website: https://bonamici.house.gov. (503) 469-6010
District 2 - Greg Walden, Website: https://walden.house.gov (541) 389-4408
District 3 - Earl Blumenauer, Website: https://blumenauer.house.gov (503) 231-2300
District 4 - Peter A. DeFazio, Website: https://defazio.house.gov 541-465-6732
District 5 – Kurt Schrader, Website: https://schrader.house.gov (503) 588-9100

I said:

I'm a constituent and supporter.

I'm complaining about the FS plan to restrict access to Three Sisters and Jefferson Wilderness.

I'm a frequent user and don't see the problem. If an area is too busy I just go to a different area.

The FS has a problem with reduced funding and more users. Please allocate more funds and insist they prioritize more users, not restrict usage.

Thank you for working for the congress person

Have you had other people complaining about this?

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cunningkeith
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by cunningkeith » May 13th, 2019, 8:51 am

Aimless wrote:
May 10th, 2019, 8:47 pm
And in order to make a legal case, it would be necessary to show the FS did not follow the procedures required by applicable law, or that the plan in itself constitutes a violation of existing law. I doubt either path is very promising . . . .
I disagree. These fees very much violate the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). According to this law, the FS has no legal authority no charge people for day hiking and overnight camping in wilderness areas. (BTW, we've talked about FLREA with regard to NW Forest Pass (also illegal to charge people who only park at TH), but the FLREA also prohibits the FS from charging for day hiking)

The response document that the FS just issued before making the Final Decision said this: ""The EA clearly notes that the Forests will pursue authorization through the FLREA to charge a wilderness stewardship fee for day and overnight permits."

There is no such thing as a "wilderness stewardship fee" in the FLREA or any other federal law. That is a completely fake term. Google the term in all quotes. The FS just made it up for the first time ever just for us. They are trying to invent a fee that they have zero authority to create.

But I do agree with your other comment that it will take some specialized lawyering to challenge this.

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jessbee
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by jessbee » May 13th, 2019, 9:01 am

cunningkeith wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 8:51 am

There is no such thing as a "wilderness stewardship fee" in the FLREA or any other federal law. That is a completely fake term. Google the term in all quotes. The FS just made it up for the first time ever just for us. They are trying to invent a fee that they have zero authority to create.

But I do agree with your other comment that it will take some specialized lawyering to challenge this.
So do we have any specialized lawyers who will deal with this? Hikers as a user group are pretty disorganized. What options are there?
Will break trail for beer.

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cunningkeith
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by cunningkeith » May 13th, 2019, 9:32 am

jessbee wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:01 am
So do we have any specialized lawyers who will deal with this? Hikers as a user group are pretty disorganized. What options are there?
If others are interested in this possibility, please shoot me a PM (note: I am not handling this case, but it's possible that we could find somebody who could)

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Bosterson
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by Bosterson » May 13th, 2019, 9:54 am

cunningkeith wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 8:51 am
The response document that the FS just issued before making the Final Decision said this: ""The EA clearly notes that the Forests will pursue authorization through the FLREA to charge a wilderness stewardship fee for day and overnight permits."

There is no such thing as a "wilderness stewardship fee" in the FLREA or any other federal law. That is a completely fake term. Google the term in all quotes. The FS just made it up for the first time ever just for us. They are trying to invent a fee that they have zero authority to create.
Good catch on that one, Keith! I guess one could presume they are using the term colloquially, but the FLREA only allows for "standard-" and "expanded amenity recreation" fees. Maybe they will drop the bogus terminology once they issue the fee proposal this year.
cunningkeith wrote:These fees very much violate the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). According to this law, the FS has no legal authority no charge people for day hiking and overnight camping in wilderness areas.
FLREA authorizes (with limitations) the collection of fees. Which statute authorizes quotas and restrictions?

Under FLREA §6802.(g)(2)(G), the expanded amenity fee can be charged for "Use of reservation services." It occurs to me that a catch-22 type situation could be created where under FLREA they can't charge fees for mere access, yet a different statute allows them to require reservations for the permits, and then under FLREA they are allowed to charge for the reservations... :?

(That would mean that the non-reservable walk-up permits should be free? Except the FS hasn't specified how those will be administered yet - it seems likely you will still have to get them off Rec.gov, which has the blanket $6 "vendor" fee.)
Will hike off trail for fun.

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cunningkeith
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by cunningkeith » May 13th, 2019, 11:34 am

Bosterson wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 9:54 am
Under FLREA §6802.(g)(2)(G), the expanded amenity fee can be charged for "Use of reservation services."
Good questions. Oh, the fun of statutory interpretation :D

The reference to "reservation services" is a "Expanded Amenity Recreation Fee." Just for the sake of argument, let's assume they can charge a "reservation fee." That would mean all the money would have to go to the reservation system (recreation.gov) because any charge above that amount would no longer be for the reservation. Of course, they don't want to give all the money to the reservation system. As they've said, they want to keep some of the money for enforcement, so they couldn't argue that the whole charge is for the "reservation."

But the FLREA does not even allow for a "reservation fee" in these circumstances anyway. In that same subsection that talks about a "reservation fee," it says that the power to charge a "reservation fee" is "limited by subsection (d)." So now, we have to go up to that subsection. Guess what "subsection (d)" says?:

"The Secretary shall not charge any . . . expanded amenity recreation fee (EDIT: that's the reservation fee). . .
(B) For general access unless specifically authorized under this section.
(C) For dispersed areas with low or no investment unless specifically authorized under this section.
. . .
(E) For camping at undeveloped sites that do not provide a minimum number of facilities and services as described in subsection (g)(2)(A)."

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Water
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by Water » May 13th, 2019, 12:39 pm

Keith,

By your take, MSH climbing permits, Mt Adams pass, and permits for enchantments, are not valid either? Enchantments especially seems to provide a pretty established and enforced example of charging for hiking/overnight permits.

Is it like with dog mountain the guise of safety allowed permits without public input and process, in these instances there's a fig leaf of environmental concerns that allow bypassing/sidestepping FLREA's requirements?
Feel Free to Feel Free

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cunningkeith
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by cunningkeith » May 13th, 2019, 1:00 pm

Water wrote:
May 13th, 2019, 12:39 pm
Keith,

By your take, MSH climbing permits, Mt Adams pass, and permits for enchantments, are not valid either? Enchantments especially seems to provide a pretty established and enforced example of charging for hiking/overnight permits.
Another great question! It's hard to know the source of the Forest Service's claimed authority, given that the agency is referring to a "wilderness stewardship fee" that does not exist in law.

But . . . my best guess is that they will try to argue that this is a "Special Recreation Permit Fee." That is the only conceivable permit that would be covered here. It allows them to charge people to buy a permit "for specialized recreation uses . . . such as group activities, recreation events, motorized recreational vehicle use."

Notice that the term is for "special recreation" as opposed to "general recreation." The idea here was for things like one-day races, weddings, etc.

There is no Forest Service land in the country that charges for day hiking (including Enchantments). At least, I asked that question and they told me that they had found none. What they had found were charges for mountain climbing (like St. Helens) and boating. Those are arguably instances of "special recreation."

But once you start charging for day hiking and backpacking, then every type of use is being charged (horse, fish, climb, hike, etc.). That is no longer "special recreation."

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Water
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by Water » May 13th, 2019, 1:15 pm

Thanks for the long answer, apologies for short follow up
I'm on mobile and at work. But is 'walking up' st Helens a form of special recreation unlike going up Defiance? They both have 5000ft of elevation gain. At some point you could designate every form of recreation as special permit.

That is a good point about the enchantments, no cost for day hike. But they do charge to camp. Similar to Pamelia and Obsidian areas, but they fall under LEA? I guess that's environmentally 'supported' regulation in a demarcated area vs an entire wilderness area. Though now you can't even 'pass' through those areas on a day hike without a permit be when that used to be the case (maybe 5yr ago).

Sigh. I fought against these permits for years and so many people say 'well they had to do something!'. It's not cause the cost almost at all. It's the spontaneity that is eviscerated from the activity. And the continuing restrictions on access. With the decommissioning of trails in the very wildernesses that they said they are trying to re-distribute people in.. the FS and us as hikers should largely be celebrating the increased demand and use and respond positively in kind.
They should be having more rangers. And building new trails. And doing their outreach (not volunteers picking up the slack) at trailheads on busy days.

Sorry for the drift..
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