More Fees Coming to a Trail Near You

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
justpeachy
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Re: More Fees Coming to a Trail Near You

Post by justpeachy » October 30th, 2019, 6:50 am

I haven't looked into this, but the Forest Service says they are mandated by law to use Recreation.gov for a permit system such as this, and that they are not allowed to choose any other option.

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Bosterson
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Re: More Fees Coming to a Trail Near You

Post by Bosterson » October 30th, 2019, 8:32 am

Keith, I would think it much more likely that Wyden et al spoke with the Forest Service, who described a need to be able to allocate use or create limited entry areas. That said, the "individual" wording actually comes from the SOAR Act, which was sponsored by Martin Heinrich (D-NM). That act got incorporated into the RNR Act.

There is a breakdown of how the RNR came about in this Medium post. This makes it sound like the act really was meant to reauthorize Special Rec permits for guiding/outfitting/commercial use only. Since this is the definition of the permit given in the first part of the RNR, it's especially perplexing to find special use permits defined to include individuals in the section below. I am hoping Wyden's office will respond to my email about this.
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jessbee
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Re: More Fees Coming to a Trail Near You

Post by jessbee » October 30th, 2019, 9:06 am

In the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance conference I attended last week, it seems that the trend nationwide is to enact pay to play permit systems. It was basically the only strategy various land management agencies were talking about. Unfortunately this will become the new norm unless we do something about it now.
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cunningkeith
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Re: More Fees Coming to a Trail Near You

Post by cunningkeith » October 31st, 2019, 6:06 am

I edited my earlier post about the politics of this to clarify what I was trying to say. I don’t think it matters much that the language in the RNR about charging “individuals” came from other legislation. The fact is that this language is now in the RNR, Wyden and others are backing it, and they need to know exactly what they’re sponsoring: fees for hiking.

I do not believe that any lobbyist explicitly told Wyden, “Hey, we’d like to charge people for hiking.” What likely transpired is a conversation that others have described. Either a lobbyist or a forest bureaucrat told Wyden and others, “We’ve got this great new legislation to streamline permitting. It will bring the system into the 21st century by taking it online. In addition, we’ll be able to limit entries into fragile places and promote conservation.” Who wouldn’t support that?

But the fact is that Wyden has taken over $50,000 from a political patron (recreation.gov), and that patron stands to make a bundle off this legislation.

I know it sounds like $1 or $6 a permit isn’t much, but just think about this: According to the environmental assessment that was done for the Central Cascades project, over 120,000 people visit the Three Sisters Wilderness annually. That’s just one wilderness in one state. Now take a permitting system nationally, and the numbers grow quickly. Recreation.gov is owned by a private equity firm. Such firms exist for the sole purpose of making money. And not a penny from the reservation fee goes to support the forests, trail maintenance, etc.
Still waiting to hear back from my representatives . . .

RadioHiker
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Re: More Fees Coming to a Trail Near You

Post by RadioHiker » November 12th, 2019, 9:53 pm

Screw them all. I'm not paying additional fees for the "privilege" of using our public lands. It'll be a cold day in Hell before I buy a forest pass or pay any other fee to use our forest lands. Courts have already ruled these fees unconstitutional. Let them ticket me. Let's see how they enforce it.

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