Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

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Guy
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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by Guy » April 11th, 2019, 12:08 pm

Water wrote:
April 11th, 2019, 10:22 am
of course he's right in the end.

You'd have to be a damn fool or willfully ignorant not to look at the trend-line of 'service' the FS provides vs access, and what steps (costs, advanced reservation, quotas) are involved to go hiking more and more. There's more fees and there's less to show for it. Unless there's some fundamental funding and culture changes that's not going to stop. Do you think I'm going to get better service if mt adams permits go from the mt adams ranger station to rec.gov?

imo WTA, TKO, and Mazamas to some extent (they have less of a relationship with FS and have at times brought their resources to advocate for preventing additional restrictions) have carried water for the FS for years, being a 'partner' as the FS offloads more and more responsibilities. They're in a no-win situation where they must maintain relationships with the FS in order to operate yet supporting FS policies causes access issues, decrease in FS work, and detriment to their member/user-base.
Yep what Water said, just another rung on the ladder towards restricted access for all.
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Charley
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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by Charley » April 11th, 2019, 8:29 pm

Water wrote:
April 11th, 2019, 10:22 am
imo WTA, TKO, and Mazamas to some extent (they have less of a relationship with FS and have at times brought their resources to advocate for preventing additional restrictions) have carried water for the FS for years, being a 'partner' as the FS offloads more and more responsibilities. They're in a no-win situation where they must maintain relationships with the FS in order to operate yet supporting FS policies causes access issues, decrease in FS work, and detriment to their member/user-base.
Nailed it! It's hard to advocate forcefully when the organization depends on, for example, being able to lead hikes in the Gorge on the weekend. If Smokey can suddenly come and say "nah, you can't lead hikes to the most popular destinations anymore on the days that working humans have free," you'd best not rock the boat.

I don't think much of our Mazamas budget comes from trail trips fees, but still, we lead hundreds of hikes a year, and most are on the weekends. If Smokey can just revoke longstanding permits like that. . . they could literally shut the Mazamas out of almost everything we do. A majority of our trips are on Forest Service land. The Forest Service has the power to practically destroy the organization (who'd take BCEP without the dangling carrot of Mt Hood? etc).

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Guy
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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by Guy » April 11th, 2019, 8:59 pm

Charley wrote:
April 11th, 2019, 8:29 pm

...
I don't think much of our Mazamas budget comes from trail trips fees, but still, we lead hundreds of hikes a year, and most are on the weekends. If Smokey can just revoke longstanding permits like that. . . they could literally shut the Mazamas out of almost everything we do. A majority of our trips are on Forest Service land. The Forest Service has the power to practically destroy the organization (who'd take BCEP without the dangling carrot of Mt Hood? etc).
The funny thing here is it reads like 12 individuals can legally get together and go got a hike on a weekend but 12 Mazamas can't :)

Time to take the organization underground ;)
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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by kepPNW » April 12th, 2019, 7:49 am

Bosterson wrote:
April 11th, 2019, 9:47 am
Mazamas wrote:However, because we use an outfitter/guide permit to operate Mazama programs in the gorge, we are held to different rules. Outfitter/guides are not allowed to take guided groups on Dog Mountain on weekends during the permit period, even if we buy permits.
It sounds like that has to do with the guide/outfitter permits for big groups, and would not affect normal hikers? It appears that the USFS is just saying the Mazamas/et al can't take big organized groups out on weekends.
Sure what it sounds like. Just to toss out an alt-thought... I wonder if it has anything to do with the Mazamas regularly taking 20+ people out on such trips? I was astounded, a few weeks ago, to be met by a huge group (or two, combined?) of Mazamas -- perhaps 30 or 40 strong! -- while heading up the Augspurger trail. Only other humans I saw that day on that trail. Of course, I had to stand aside for minutes while the herd passed. Despite me being the one headed uphill. ;)
Guy wrote:
April 11th, 2019, 8:59 pm
The funny thing here is it reads like 12 individuals can legally get together and go got a hike on a weekend but 12 Mazamas can't :)
As a teaching organization, I sure wish they'd stick to Wilderness ethics even in (lower-case) wilderness. :roll:
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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by BigBear » April 12th, 2019, 8:40 am

Guy: your assertion about 12 strangers vs. 12 Mazamas is absolutely correct

A little history...circa 1994, seven members of USFS Hood River office met with members of the various local hiking groups (Mazamas, FOCG, Trails Club, etc) and tried to inflict this very restriction on the hiking clubs. Armed with only "Testimony for a Subcommittee" and an obscure quote from NEPA that gave them the authority to "monitor" usage, they went balls-out and tried to restrict all group access.

Fortunately, I had a bit of Administrative Law from Willamette Law School ala Oregon Supreme Court Justice Gillette and I recalled a federal Supreme Court finding that a federal agency could not pass laws that were "arbitrary and capricious." In this particular situation, USFS was trying to tie the hands of hiking groups by ignoring "Paragraph B" of the Revenue section of ORS et al that excludes reimbursements to leaders in determining outfitter/guide status. In short, restricting hiking groups and not families and friends was arbitrary and capricious.

Sadly, Mazamas have since that time entered into an agreement with USFS that puts the organization into the outfitter/guide status and thus allows different rules to apply.

Even more sadly, USFS has entered into a divide-and-conquer mentality that takes the organized groups out of the equation and puts individual (non organized) hikers at risk to decisions that likely are outside of their administrative mandate. This, the steps that led to Dog Mtn's fees and restrictions are coming into play on all Gorge trails.

Not certain how the Golden Age passport will play into the Dog Mtn experience since access to all federal land is free (and other fees are half price). Given Region 6's ignorance of federal court decisions, I guess each person will have to take them to court individually to get them to abide by the law.

For me, I am drifting away from bigger hikes and can let the more youthful hikers that follow to take up the argument in my place. Good luck. You now live in a world of unlimited spending by PACs, so congressmen don't hear anything softer than a million dollars drop.

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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by Bosterson » April 12th, 2019, 10:30 am

BigBear wrote:
April 12th, 2019, 8:40 am
Even more sadly, USFS has entered into a divide-and-conquer mentality that takes the organized groups out of the equation and puts individual (non organized) hikers at risk to decisions that likely are outside of their administrative mandate. This, the steps that led to Dog Mtn's fees and restrictions are coming into play on all Gorge trails.
I heard the reason for these group restrictions is due to crowding of the limited hiking space in the Gorge given the ongoing closures due to the EC fire. It wasn't clear if this is meant to be temporary (ie, there is a definite end date, like some of the closures) or the new facts of life. There is no info about this change that I've seen online, even on the FS's outfitter permit site.

Dog Mtn was restricted under a different process - they used a "parking emergency" as justification, and my understanding was that this kind of "temporary" emergency injunction would not be able to be used at other places in the Gorge (as this is how they were able to bypass the public comment requirement). The real issue with Dog Mtn, then, is how long is a "temporary" emergency? As far as I can tell, they have done nothing to solve the parking issue in the intervening year and are just trotting out permits again. How many years can they declare an emergency without taking action on it? It does seem like local access groups are due to file a lawsuit over it...

That said, I am not usually very conspiratorially cynical, but I did note that one of the sponsors of the Dog Mtn permits is a group that advocates for Gorge business tourism, and the Dog Mtn permits, by forcing people to park in Stevenson and take a shuttle, does also funnel users who otherwise would drive through into a place where they might patronize businesses... I have no great care for the endless crowds at Dog Mtn, but the parking problem is a practical issue that can be solved via infrastructure and enforcement, so the permits there definitely need to be axed.
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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by Water » April 12th, 2019, 7:37 pm

BigBear wrote:
April 12th, 2019, 8:40 am
Even more sadly, USFS has entered into a divide-and-conquer mentality that takes the organized groups out of the equation and puts individual (non organized) hikers at risk to decisions that likely are outside of their administrative mandate. This, the steps that led to Dog Mtn's fees and restrictions are coming into play on all Gorge trails.
squash the 'zamas operating but how many ludicrous 'meetup' events have I seen and heard of the most ridiculous leader behavior, truly the blind following the blind. But that's okay since it isn't a guide service...

That said I've encountered more than once Mazamas in numbers beyond wilderness allowance and simply beyond smart/reasonable size (like a group of 10 of them on North Sister moving at a pace, and with body language that was clearly out of their element). We passed them but whoever executed that group may have had technical skills but was blind to the capabilities of the people on the team, let alone logistics of getting 10 people up and down the technical parts of that mountain in any reasonable length of time given how much they pro it out. They turned around before the traverse, smartly I guess. But it is my understanding mazamas has tried to tailor their mountain climbing impact as best they can with the greater climbing community.
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Charley
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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by Charley » April 12th, 2019, 9:23 pm

Water wrote:
April 12th, 2019, 7:37 pm
That said I've encountered more than once Mazamas in numbers beyond wilderness allowance and simply beyond smart/reasonable size (like a group of 10 of them on North Sister moving at a pace, and with body language that was clearly out of their element). We passed them but whoever executed that group may have had technical skills but was blind to the capabilities of the people on the team, let alone logistics of getting 10 people up and down the technical parts of that mountain in any reasonable length of time given how much they pro it out. They turned around before the traverse, smartly I guess. But it is my understanding mazamas has tried to tailor their mountain climbing impact as best they can with the greater climbing community.
Since our mission is to get people out to love, and thus protect, the mountains, it follows that we will take as many people up as we can. That necessitates large(r) groups and sometimes climbers who are relatively new to the activity. It's not always elegant. It's definitely not "cool," like a group consisting of two dedicated dirtbag climbers with a well used rack, fast hiking legs, and lots of experience. That said, I'd rather see 12 friendly climbing nerds than a few kids who have no clue what they are doing, and are kicking rocks down the mountain and making a lot of noise. In fact, the best way to transform those stupid kids into wise dirtbags might just be the Mazamas' Basic Climbing Education Program.

The Mazamas is the most dedicated and powerful (for what it's worth) institutional advocate for trail and mountain access in Oregon. They have been working diligently against the Central Oregon Wilderness Permanent Shutdown. The more Mazamas there are, the greater a voice we hikers will have in protecting access to our trails. Those large hiking groups aren't great (if they even are Mazamas!), but the alternative (neutering an important voice for access and preservation) is far, far worse.

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retired jerry
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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by retired jerry » April 13th, 2019, 6:02 am

I don't have a problem with Mazama groups. I'll just take a break and wait for them to pass. A lot of people want to go with a group to figure out how to safely do a trip in the wilderness. There are a lot of other problems in the world for me to worry about. They do a lot of trail maintenance, like King's Mountain, which I appreciate.

"Since our mission is to get people out to love, and thus protect, the mountains, it follows that we will take as many people up as we can."

Yeah! That should be the Forest Service's attitude. If there are crowds they're successful. Manage them. Let people know where the busy places are so they can go elsewhere if they don't like crowds. Build other trails...

They're short on funds though so it makes it difficult.

I did some Mazama climbs a long time ago.

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Re: Forest Service punches hikers below the belt

Post by justpeachy » April 15th, 2019, 6:55 am

Water wrote:
April 11th, 2019, 10:22 am
imo WTA, TKO, and Mazamas to some extent (they have less of a relationship with FS and have at times brought their resources to advocate for preventing additional restrictions) have carried water for the FS for years, being a 'partner' as the FS offloads more and more responsibilities.
If these organizations went away or stopped doing what they're doing, what evidence is there at the Forest Service has the resources to pick up that slack?

From a recent NPR article:
visitation to U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land has risen by about 15 percent over the last decade, while budgets for programs that support recreation in those agencies has fallen by a similar amount.

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