Outdoor Recreation Bill

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Charley
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Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by Charley » November 23rd, 2021, 10:29 am

US Senators Manchin and Barrasso have released an "Outdoor Recreation Bill" that could have far-ranging consequences. I've read the summaries and some of the endorsements, and, on the balance, it seems like a good idea.

You can read more here:
https://www.energy.senate.gov/2021/11/m ... ation-bill

Some positives:
1. Establishing target shooting ranges seems like a complete no-brainer. We've seen informal ranges create a lot of undesirable use in random, uncontrolled locations; formalized ranges, with infrastructure that encourages sustainable use, would have a more limited, concentrated impact. I'd go further. The bill would require each Forest has at least one shooting range, but judging from patterns of use, the Mt Hood NF could probably use at least one on each side of the Cascades (Estacada, Hood River, Sandy, etc).

2. Finalized road maps for the Forests would be great.

3. The Gateway Communities component is good, because outdoor recreation has the potential to shift the relationship between rural and urban people. It's a long term proposition but this is how:
A. Rural communities have experienced economic challenges as their economies shift away from resource extraction.
B. Many people in those communities blame this on the environmentalists from the cities.
C. If, instead, rural communities enjoyed economic benefits from urban visitors, perhaps we can shift that dynamic for the better.

Two concerns I have with the bill:
1. Section 103 directs the Forest Service to issue some kind of Climbing Guidance that would apply to Wilderness Areas. At this point, I have little faith that the FS would come up with reasonable restrictions.

Last year hundreds and hundreds of people crowded Mt St Helens on the sunny weekend before the permit system took effect and left a lot of trash, and yet I've only seen a single climbing ranger up there a single time in my years here. Numerous poorly graded climber's trails create erosion and visual eyesores on the slopes of Mt Hood. . . and yet there's no sign of a management plan to address the problem. But then the FS spends a bunch of time and effort to discourage backpackers from visiting the quiet trails of the Central Cascades. There doesn't seem to be much understanding of the evolution of outdoor recreation. Neither do I see any sense of priority or proportionality in the regulation of that use!

2. The "Public-Private Partnerships to Modernize Campgrounds" sounds like they want to give more campgrounds to private contractors like Hoodoo. In that case, I think we can look forward to having to pay additional fess to park at trailheads that happen to be near campgrounds (such as Lost Lake). Unless they tighten up these fee-for-profit campground contracts (to apply strictly to camping), I'm not a fan.

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drm
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by drm » November 23rd, 2021, 1:46 pm

Looks good at a glance, though it seems to skip the 800 pound gorilla: wildfire. A bill passed a couple years ago that took some baby steps towards financing fire-fighting on Federal lands. But we need a Federal Fire Service that pays properly. From what I have read, the current system is pretty bad, and many are leaving that field of work.

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retired jerry
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by retired jerry » November 23rd, 2021, 2:11 pm

and, they need to do more prescribed burns

I read somewhere that fire fighters are really more focused on fighting fires and aren't as much into prescribed burns

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retired jerry
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by retired jerry » November 23rd, 2021, 2:13 pm

there's that bill that says the Forest Service can only charge a fee for parking at a trailhead if there are amenities - toilet, picnic table, garbage can

it would be nice if this bill would authorize fees for parking if they use it for trail maintenance

although I'd rather they funded that from the general fund - income taxes

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adamschneider
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by adamschneider » November 23rd, 2021, 2:24 pm

Charley wrote:
November 23rd, 2021, 10:29 am
1. Establishing target shooting ranges seems like a complete no-brainer. We've seen informal ranges create a lot of undesirable use in random, uncontrolled locations; formalized ranges, with infrastructure that encourages sustainable use, would have a more limited, concentrated impact.
OK, but would the bill also restrict or ban shooting outside the designated ranges?

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drm
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by drm » November 24th, 2021, 7:54 am

retired jerry wrote:
November 23rd, 2021, 2:11 pm
and, they need to do more prescribed burns
They do, but there is tremendous resistance, especially from people who live nearby.

And even so, prescribed burns are only feasible in real wilderness areas. If you look at the vast areas that burned in our terrible fires the previous September, most of those areas were rural or semi-rural, with too much housing and infrastructure for prescribed burns.
OK, but would the bill also restrict or ban shooting outside the designated ranges?
Presumably regular hunting and shooting regulations would apply outside of the ranges. I don't know that for a fact, but just making that assumption.

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retired jerry
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by retired jerry » November 24th, 2021, 8:26 am

but near human habitation is where the prescribed burns need to be

the alternate is to have bigger fires later

I understand how people don't like this though

prescribed burns are only appropriate in some areas. Like, west of the Cascades it doesn't help that much. Because there's more rain undergrowth quickly grows back. And because there's so much rain there aren't so many fires. And there have been fires in the same area where there were recent fires

east of the Cascades where are those pine forests, that's where prescribed burns are important. Or the Sierras.

in those recent fires like the Santiam canyon, there were many habitations that survived. They had safe areas around them (prescribed burns are good), houses with fire proof materials,... That might be the most important thing to do for the future, make habitations fire safe.

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Charley
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by Charley » November 24th, 2021, 6:26 pm

drm wrote:
November 23rd, 2021, 1:46 pm
Looks good at a glance, though it seems to skip the 800 pound gorilla: wildfire. A bill passed a couple years ago that took some baby steps towards financing fire-fighting on Federal lands. But we need a Federal Fire Service that pays properly. From what I have read, the current system is pretty bad, and many are leaving that field of work.
Wildfire is a huge issue, and from what I've read, the infrastructure bill passed and signed recently will have BIG pay increases for wildland firefighters, as well as many millions of dollars for wildfire mitigation.

You can find more info here:
https://www.hcn.org/articles/north-wild ... management

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Charley
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by Charley » November 24th, 2021, 6:38 pm

adamschneider wrote:
November 23rd, 2021, 2:24 pm
OK, but would the bill also restrict or ban shooting outside the designated ranges?
Not that I can tell! I have a hard time imagining Manchin or Barrasso would vote for this bill, much less write and sponsor sponsor it, if there were any firearm restrictions or bans.

That said, the "carrot" approach, (as opposed to "stick" approach) is applied to many other environmentally consequential recreational activities. For example, compared to historic trails, modern trails often direct hikers away from ecologically sensitive sites (wetlands, the centers of meadows, erosion-prone slopes, etc); even if hiking off-trail is still allowed, many people take advantage of well-built trails rather than bushwacking parallel routes.

Creating a purpose-built shooting area, (free to the public, with inviting amenities,) may incentivize more sustainable use, by concentrating shooting in places which are designed for that impact.

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Chip Down
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by Chip Down » November 24th, 2021, 10:05 pm

I've never seen a problem that couldn't be solved with another 41 pages of federal legislation and resulting bureaucratic quagmire, and so I heartily endorse this bill. :geek:

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