More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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retired jerry
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by retired jerry » January 7th, 2020, 6:58 am

yeah, but in the mount lemmon case, they were charging for parking on a 23 (?) mile stretch of highway where there was just one location with the amenities

there aren't any cases where FS charged for parking in a lot next to the amenities

it would be (a little) interesting if such a case was taken to court. The FS doesn't seem interested in doing this :)

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BigBear
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by BigBear » January 7th, 2020, 9:58 am

The issue with Adams vs USFG was that FS wanted to charge hikers, backpackers and picnickers just because amenities existed in the forest. The Circuit Court ruled that, like a restaurant which can not add a bottle of expensive champagne to your bill just because a bottle is available. You can only be charged for the champagne if you drink it. (this is the actual example cited in the ruling). USFS is incorrectly assuming that you are using the picnic table and trash can just because it exists. USFS argued that merely parking your vehicle somehow meant you were subject to covering the costs of the amenities they installed.

The restroom can be used free-of-charge whether you are hiking or not because the alternative to using the facility is not in the interests of USFS or the public. Oregon State Parks allows you 15 minutes at a site to use the facilities before the day-use pass goes into effect - this is from the state office, regardless what the guy at the kiosk says (and the state office wants to know if the guy in the kiosk is saying something different).

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retired jerry
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by retired jerry » January 7th, 2020, 10:20 am

that's what's a little ambiguous

if there are amenities and you don't use them do you still have to pay

I think the language in the ruling could be interpreted to mean that if you park away from the facilities, but walk by them and don't use them, then you don't have to pay.

If there was a case where someone parked next to the amenities, didn't use them, didn't pay, and the FS sued them in court and there was a ruling, then it would be unambiguous

Maybe the FS doesn't want to bring such a law suit in such a case because that would kill the entire program

Maybe the FS doesn't want to bring such a law suit in such a case because it's not worth the hassle and would bring bad will from the public. Better to just leave as is. Most people will pay the fee. The FS can use the funds to construct the amenities and enforce the rule. A tiny bit can go to trail maintenance.

The whole thing is pretty crazy. In a "Catch 22" sort of a way. Maybe it can bring some entertainment to viewers.

Aimless
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by Aimless » January 7th, 2020, 10:54 am

You know things are being badly managed in this situation when the USFS is reduced to exploiting every sliver of ambiguity in the law in order to collect thousands of small fees that amount to pocket change in the context of the budgets of the PNW national forests.

Every other part of the USFS mandate is being starved to death in order to pay for the costs imposed by fighting wildfires. Until Congress rectifies how the USFS-provided services are paid for, we can be certain that the USFS will resort to makeshifts and workarounds to pay for the recreational infrastructure, including campgrounds and maintenance for both roads and trails. Under the current funding mess, the most obvious alternatives to the USFS charging these fees would be contracting out trailhead and trail maintenance to private companies, who would in turn collect even higher fees for anyone using either one. That solution would even less palatable to most of us.

Believing that if the current and proposed fees just went away that everything would go back to how it was in 1975 or 1990 or 2005 is wishful thinking. The money has to come from somewhere. Without a complete overhaul of the USFS funding mechanism to put it on a radically different path, support for recreational use of the forests will either rely on fees, or it will erode until it disappears. And, yes, that sucks. But I think it is what we're faced with.

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retired jerry
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by retired jerry » January 7th, 2020, 12:54 pm

well said

congress should fund trail maintenance

the FS is using a funding mechanism for day use areas and applying it to trailheads because that's all they have available

I think the FS in general are well intentioned and doing what they think is in the best interest

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xrp
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by xrp » January 7th, 2020, 1:01 pm

retired jerry wrote:
January 7th, 2020, 10:20 am
that's what's a little ambiguous

if there are amenities and you don't use them do you still have to pay
No. Adams infers that and Fragosa confirms it.
I think the language in the ruling could be interpreted to mean that if you park away from the facilities, but walk by them and don't use them, then you don't have to pay.
That is the correct interpretation and the judge essentially states that (again) here:

"we conclude that the REA unambiguously prohibits the Forest Service from charging fees in the Mount Lemmon HIRA for recreational visitors who park a car, then camp at undeveloped sites, picnic along roads or trailsides, or hike through the area without using the facilities and services."

The decision simply states "park a car". There's no mention of proximity to amenities. Since the judge doesn't mention a proximity, you can park an inch away from amenities or a mile away and be protected by Adams and Fragosa.
If there was a case where someone parked next to the amenities, didn't use them, didn't pay, and the FS sued them in court and there was a ruling, then it would be unambiguous
The FS won't sue someone for not paying. They just ticket and hope you'll pay, or buy whatever Pass.
Maybe the FS doesn't want to bring such a law suit in such a case because that would kill the entire program

Maybe the FS doesn't want to bring such a law suit in such a case because it's not worth the hassle and would bring bad will from the public. Better to just leave as is. Most people will pay the fee. The FS can use the funds to construct the amenities and enforce the rule. A tiny bit can go to trail maintenance.
Correct! Especially when they see seasoned hikers frequenting message boards (since anyone can read this or other hiking websites) and getting into endless arguments about having to pay or not. And then, if you manage to convince a "you have to buy a pass" person into becoming a "oh, you don't have to buy a pass" person, much of the time you'll get accused of freeloading when the same people can be found in the same thread (or other threads) lamenting how the outdoors is supposed to be free for all. :lol:

If I'm selling something that no one is forced to buy, yet I still manage to trick 50% of my potential customers into paying for it and they continue to do so, why would I change my behavior? The judge is saying the USFS can't require anyone to buy a pass. The judge isn't saying that the USFS has to refuse their money if they choose to buy a pass that they don't have to buy. :mrgreen:

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Water
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by Water » January 7th, 2020, 1:08 pm

drm wrote:
January 6th, 2020, 3:07 pm
This document is about the RSA, whose goal is to match annual facilities maintenance with available resources. That means you either raise fees or lower services.
Please explain to me how if the goal is to match this, creating new facilities and service maintenance costs helps arrive at matching available resources? Are they trying to suggest revenues gained after building bathrooms and installing picnic tables, and having trash service at new trailheads that currently do not have these costs associated will both pay for all activities at those trailheads AND more, in order to address other expenses?

It would seem an easier route would be to continue to reduce annual facility maintenance while not creating new long-term expenses. The cost for the upkeep of trailhead facilities and services is probably a number you don't want to see when you include the materials, the servicing (trash, TP, pump-out), repair (tree falls, vandalism, snow/ice damage, etc), employee or contractor time, fuel use, etc. Vs not having to attend to these forever outlays.

From my read of the document I am not seeing savings come from building new items, but from decommissioning existing facilities like some campgrounds.

On the list is to decommission an under utilized privy, costing $7,000. So this will save them long term maintenance. But am I to believe that none of the privy's they're proposing to build now will not in a future RSA be listed for decommission?

In fact the RSA slightly reduces the carrying capacity of the National Forest, if it was fully implemented. It's interesting at a time of increased use, they're reducing capacity slightly instead of increasing slightly.

other tidbit Thomas Lake TH:
Pursue other management solutions for overcrowding and parking beyond capacity of site, such as limiting wilderness permits.
On the horizon, limited entry to Indian Heaven.
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retired jerry
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by retired jerry » January 7th, 2020, 2:45 pm

I love you all by the way, I need to quit getting sucked into this argument :)

"we conclude that the REA unambiguously prohibits the Forest Service from charging fees in the Mount Lemmon HIRA for recreational visitors who park a car, then camp at undeveloped sites, picnic along roads or trailsides, or hike through the area without using the facilities and services."

its unambiguous that they can't charge for just parking and hiking through the area with facilities

but, it wasn't clear just where the visitor parked his car relative to the facilities. And I'm no lawyer, I don't know what the text in the ruling does or is it just the actually verdict on the specific case - they can't charge for parking on a 23 mile stretch of road just because there are amenities at one spot.

what you really need if for someone to park at a trailhead with amenities, get a ticket for not paying, go to court, get a verdict. That would be unambiguous

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Water
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by Water » January 7th, 2020, 3:39 pm

I have tried and will keep trying. The FS doesn't want to go to court. This is telling, is it not? If they were so legally confident in what they are doing, why not stand behind it in court and knock down those stupid people who are arbitrarily interpreting FLREA and other rulings to their liking? Certainly they are the experts about the laws that govern the FS, are they not?

but lets get back to more trailheads in the Gifford and the costs to develop them to standards that allow them to charge a fee:
Siouxon at $25k
East Crater $30k
Snowgrass $30k
June Lake $40k
south coldwater $30k
---
I'm to believe new yearly revenue generated from these now requiring a NWFP when they didn't before will both pay for the initial cost or at a minimum cover their yearly maintenance and upkeep, and bring in enough new revenue to be spent on other facility and service costs?

incredible!
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mountainkat
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Re: More fees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Post by mountainkat » January 7th, 2020, 7:33 pm

Thanks, Matt, for sharing this.

Here's some information that argues against any new pay to play user fees because the USFS budget has been swallowed by wildfire costs. According to WTA, Congress fixed that issue, effective 2020. (As an aside, I really appreciate the trail/hiker advocacy work that WTA does. I really wish we had such an organization in Oregon.)

https://www.wta.org/news/signpost/new-b ... re-funding

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