Outdoor Recreation Bill

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Sugar Pine
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by Sugar Pine » November 25th, 2021, 1:11 pm

Thank you for posting about this bill. I quickly scanned through the bill and unfortunately, don't see much benefit to hikers. There is one line about "shall increase opportunities for nonmotorized and motorized access and experiences on Federal Land".

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BigBear
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by BigBear » November 25th, 2021, 3:17 pm

Proceed with extreme caution. Remember, USFS has used the Recreational Enhancement Act as the basis for its user fees even though the act specifically prohibits several of those fees, as confirmed by the federal courts.

I have looked over the bill which has such broad brush strokes it's impossible to understand the impact to the public other than you will get to use your cell phone more and if you're a Boy Scout troop you will be even less regulated than you ignore now (I think back to the 30-40 Boy Scouts in Indian Heaven last September who ignored the 12-person limit).

Section 101 is geared for outfitter/guides, specifically youth groups. Less regulations.

Section 102 is planning and managing recreation. Investment in better camping and picnic sites is a plus, but privatization of these sites means more fees because private companies only honor specific passes and the Golden Age Pass has not been treated with the respect it was said to have had at the time of purchase.

Section 103 smells of regulation, fees and limits...otherwise it wouldn't be here.

Section 104 is great for people who like to shoot guns on public lands, but bad for everyone else. Establishing nice sites for shooters will end up in fees and that will just drive people back out into the woods. The advantage is strictly for those who are willing to pay the fees for a nice site...but if that was what they wanted to do, they would just go to a gun club like the one in Sherwood.

Section II ironically is titled "Improving Recreational Opportunities" like... Strange, I did not actually read anything about recreational opportunities being improved. I don't count enhanced Facebook reception as a recreational opportunity.

Section 201 will create cell towers in the wilderness - oh what a joy. :(

Section 202 is just another layer on the existing marine boards' rules and regs.

Section 203 smells of limits on people enjoying their public land. I remember a meeting with the USFS where they were proud of themselves for "interpreting" NEPA's "count" to mean "restrict." So, when I see "maintain" I get really nervous.

Section 204 is strange to me. I have trail maps and I have forest service road maps. They have existed for decades, and are updated periodically. Maybe this is one of those periodic updates.

Title III doesn't address recreation, but communities near the recreational sites.

I would have been a whole lot more excited to read of how many miles of increased trails there would be, or better roads and parking lots (but that does come with a fee). These are the recreational opportunities I would consider (a) enhancements and {b) opportunities.

Right now we have usage fees for trails that had always been free, dirty bathrooms, trails that are maintained by volunteer groups, and USFS employees who think "getting out in the field" means ticketing cars at the trailhead.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion and this is mine. I have worked in government for 30 years and am well aware how broad brush strokes in a PL or CFR result in specific regulations that bear no resemblance to the original bill.

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drm
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by drm » November 26th, 2021, 9:48 am

It's always a mistake to assume that recreation means hiking. For most people it doesn't, especially hard-core frequent hikers. Going for a stroll might be an afterthought. And since one of the focuses of this bills appears to be strengthening local economies, focusing on a sport that can be done really cheaply is not going happen. They want you to spend as much money as they can get you to spend, really more for private enterprise, but fees too, so that means various amenities that people (who can afford to) willingly do so for.

Upgrading cell towers and wifi will bring the kinds of people who don't want to rough it, willing to spend on the local economy. Most of you have probably already heard what they say about hikers: they bring a $20 bill and a pair of shorts and don't change either one during their trip. We aren't what they are looking for. Wine tourists, bikers with $5000 bicycles, that's what they want.

Webfoot
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by Webfoot » November 26th, 2021, 10:48 am

Doesn't putting cell towers in Wilderness areas go against the letter and spirit of existing law? Would this act abrogate it, or ignore it?

RobFromRedland
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by RobFromRedland » November 26th, 2021, 11:57 am

Webfoot wrote:
November 26th, 2021, 10:48 am
Doesn't putting cell towers in Wilderness areas go against the letter and spirit of existing law? Would this act abrogate it, or ignore it?
I was thinking the same thing - they'd have to run city power, communication lines and then build the towers (which would require roads to them I'm sure for maintenance). I think of what was done putting a radio repeater up on top of Whalehead a few years ago -that was quite an investment to do - and it will most definitely require "trammeling by man" in order to do, which absolutely seems to go against both the letter and spirit of the law.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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Charley
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by Charley » November 26th, 2021, 12:51 pm

BigBear wrote:
November 25th, 2021, 3:17 pm
Section 201 will create cell towers in the wilderness - oh what a joy. :(
Your statement is false. On the other hand, by not capitalizing "wilderness," perhaps you intend to scare people into worrying that this bill would result in cellphone towers on Wilderness summits, without actually making that false claim.
Webfoot wrote:
November 26th, 2021, 10:48 am
Doesn't putting cell towers in Wilderness areas go against the letter and spirit of existing law? Would this act abrogate it, or ignore it?
Relevant text says that they'd "construct broadband internet infrastructure" that is "consistent with applicable law." In other worse, BigBear's suggestion that this would rewrite standing Wilderness law is a fabrication.

I will include here the entire text of Section 201 and maybe you can point to a single word in here that relates to "creat[ing] cell towers in the wilderness."
SEC. 201. BROADBAND INTERNET CONNECTIVITY AT 18 RECREATION SITES.
19 (a) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary and the Chief of 20 the Forest Service shall enter into an agreement with the
21 Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service to install or
22 construct broadband internet infrastructure at recreation
23 sites on Federal land to establish broadband internet
24 connectivity— 16 FLO21C71 RXC S.L.C.
1 (1) subject to the availability of appropriations;
2 and
3 (2) consistent with applicable law.
4 (b) IDENTIFICATION.—Not later than 1 year after
5 the date of enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter,
6 the Secretary and the Chief of the Forest Service, in co
7 ordination with States, shall make publically available—
8 (1) a list of the highest priority recreation sites
9 on Federal land that lack broadband internet; and
10 (2) an estimate of the cost to equip each of
11 those sites with broadband internet infrastructure.
12 (c) PRIORITIES.—In selecting recreation sites for the
13 list described in subsection (b)(1), the Secretary and the
14 Chief of the Forest Service shall give priority to recreation
15 sites—
16 (1) at which broadband internet infrastructure
17 has not been constructed by traditional utilities due
18 to—
19 (A) geographic challenges; or
20 (B) the location having an insufficient
21 number of permanent residents, despite high
22 seasonal or daily visitation levels; or
23 (2) that are located in an economically dis
24 tressed county that could benefit significantly from 17 FLO21C71 RXC S.L.C. 1 developing the outdoor recreation economy of the 2 county.

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Charley
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by Charley » November 26th, 2021, 1:04 pm

BigBear wrote:
November 25th, 2021, 3:17 pm
Section 103 smells of regulation, fees and limits...otherwise it wouldn't be here.
My concern, too.
BigBear wrote:
November 25th, 2021, 3:17 pm
Section 203 smells of limits on people enjoying their public land. I remember a meeting with the USFS where they were proud of themselves for "interpreting" NEPA's "count" to mean "restrict." So, when I see "maintain" I get really nervous.
I totally understand the concern, but given that the bill also explicitly reaffirms that "IN GENERAL.—It is the policy of the Federal Government to foster and encourage recreation on Federal land," I feel that the intent is clear- data modernization and access, rather than restriction.
BigBear wrote:
November 25th, 2021, 3:17 pm
I would have been a whole lot more excited to read of how many miles of increased trails there would be, or better roads and parking lots (but that does come with a fee).
I agree. In my opinion, there was a chance, earlier on in the Biden admin, that New Deal-style public works might have passed, but I don't see it happening now. A nation-wide trail building and wildlands facilities maintenance program would be an investment with a huge ROI, but unless the political mood shifts harder to the popularist left, I think it is unlikely.

wildcat
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by wildcat » November 26th, 2021, 10:06 pm

I was thinking the same thing - they'd have to run city power, communication lines and then build the towers (which would require roads to them I'm sure for maintenance)
In theory they don't even need physical copper or fiber trunks. If the terrain allows it they could use a microwave trunk between the cell site and the nearest city. A solar array and storage batteries (the latter of which most if not all MTSOs and wireline central offices have always had, if not a diesel or gas generator), and you don't even need to run mains power lines, only an access road.

Hey, I'm a fone phreak....... :geek: :shock:
But I KNOW it's true! I read it on the Internet so it has to be!

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Charley
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by Charley » November 27th, 2021, 11:13 am

wildcat wrote:
November 26th, 2021, 10:06 pm
In theory they don't even need physical copper or fiber trunks. If the terrain allows it they could use a microwave trunk between the cell site and the nearest city. A solar array and storage batteries (the latter of which most if not all MTSOs and wireline central offices have always had, if not a diesel or gas generator), and you don't even need to run mains power lines, only an access road.

Hey, I'm a fone phreak....... :geek: :shock:
You guys :lol:

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BigBear
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Re: Outdoor Recreation Bill

Post by BigBear » November 27th, 2021, 11:21 am

I wasn't mentioning cell towers as a "scare tactic." If your goal is enhanced broadband services in the backcountry, it seems a no-brainer that the structures that send this connection must be prominently placed on remote mountaintops. One of the cell phone companies loves to show off their pink coverage bit the mountainous regions of the west are lacking this coverage. So how do they fill-in the rugged areas with service (a) build a 2nd tower in the metropolitan area or (b) build it somewhere it can reach the remote canyons and campsites currently free of such structures?

Looking at the wording of a legislative act may seem like it would supply all of the answers...but federal agencies love to spin the wording to their advantage. "May" becomes "must" and "up to" becomes "a minimum of."

The NEPA example (mentioned earlier) was from a meeting with 7 USFS Hood River District rangers who fully intended to restrict all hiking club activity (including Mazamas, Friends of Columbia Gorge & Clark County College) in the Gorge back in the mid-nineties based on their interpretation of the word "count." They were okay with families, just not organized groups, even educational in nature. My response was that my governmental agency gets sued all of the time when we follow the law, and this USFS interpretation easily fit the "arbitrary and capricious" limit on administrative agencies' enforcement of the law. So, yes, there is some history with misinterpretations.

You are all well-acquainted with the Adams vs USFS and BARK vs USFS federal cases involving fees like the NW Forest Pass which actually cite the Recreational Enhancement Act as their basis for charging the fee even though that very Act says the fees can NOT be imposed for those very activities. Thus the court's finding that the fees are "unambiguously prohibited." (I know you're tired of hearing this concern...I just can't believe the USFS keeps trying to collect the fee after losing in court so unambiguously)

So, keep reading the law and having your interpretations of how the Act will be enforced. Just don't be surprised when something you didn't expect comes to fruitation.

I can think of one legislative act that has been so re-interpreted that is doesn't resemble the original concept. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (a rather obscure act to 99.99% of the population was designed to ensure terrorists didn't receive government funding through the contracts of the various state and local agencies. During its 4 years of reconstruction by the Office of Management and Budget it became a rather burdensome set of regulations that required quite a bit of staff time to report subrecipient contracts of $25K or more (even though actual expenditures of these contracts have been reported through the SEFA process). Without going into the details, the application of FFATA was quite different from the original concept of just reporting a DUNS number from the original CFR.

The recreation act on the table here has rather broad brush strokes and it will be several years to see how the details work out. But nothing in the wording points to enhanced opportunities to hiking, which is the prominent activity of the oregonhikers website users, judging by the name of the group.

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