Central Cascades Fees

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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Central Cascades Fees

Post by sidehill » December 27th, 2019, 6:58 pm

I know this has been brought up numerous times, but the deadline to comment on the proposed fee schedule for the Central Cascades permit system is January 10th! Regardless of how you feel about the permit system, the fee schedule they have proposed is outrageous. $3 per person for day hiking plus $2 reservation fee and $5 per person per night for backpacking plus $6 reservation fee. Here's what that looks like: For me and my family (5 total) for a dayhike cost $17. For me and 3 of my friends to backpack 7 nights cost $146! I have bought multiple backcountry permits in national parks and Inyo national forest(eastern sierra) and never spent more than $45. And that was for 6 people!

My biggest concern, other than charging for day hiking, is the per person, per night fee schedule for backpacking. Spending $100-$200 on a backpacking trip permit in Oregon feels more like forest service budget balancing than resource protection. Inyo National forest has a similar trailhead quota system and charges $5/person, regardless of how many nights your trip is. Grand Teton National park charges $35 for backcountry permit($45 if you book in advance online) regardless of group size or number of nights. Why does Oregon feel like they have to re-invent the wheel?

Please go to Willamette national forest website to comment on this by Jan. 10th if you haven't already. I'd like to think they still have an open mind about this, although it feels overly optimistic.. But if we don't say anything, it will definitely do no good. I definitely don't believe our wilderness areas are meant only for the well off to enjoy.

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Re: Central Cascades Fees

Post by mountainkat » December 27th, 2019, 9:12 pm

I agree and have been looking at this issue as well. Ignoring whether the fees are allowed under the FLREA, the proposed fees are entirely unreasonable when compared to other areas that charge fees. The most sought after scenic wilderness areas with backpacking quotas (like those in the Sierra) do not charge fees of this magnitude. Most fees include the reservation fee and then some arguably nominal fee, not a per person per day fee like that being proposed here.

And, on top of the fees, I've been having trouble locating many areas that have day use quotas such as those proposed in this Central Oregon wilderness plan. I haven't done an extensive review, but day use quotas appear to be a very rare occurence in most national forests and national parks. What is so special about the Central Cascades that it requires such an extreme limit on day use?

The FLREA requires the Forest Service to consider other areas in this fee calculation process. From what I've seen, the very brief Central Cascade analysis mentioned only the Enchantments area in Washington for comparison, which seems woefully inadequate given the other national forests and national parks with backpacking quotas. (And the Enchantments area seems to be inapposite for comparison, given its small area and difficult to reach backcountry toilets.)

I plan to submit a comment mentioning the Forest Service's failure to consider other areas. The vast majority of the areas have fees way below those proposed in this plan.

More and more, this plan seems to be set on limiting wilderness use to those who can afford to pay and/or those who have the ability and privilege to volunteer their free time.

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Re: Central Cascades Fees

Post by justpeachy » December 29th, 2019, 10:41 am

Feel free to share your thoughts on the existing thread for this topic (link below). :)