Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Always
17
25%
Yes, if there's a form left in the box
39
58%
Only if it's a busy trailhead
0
No votes
Only if I'm backpacking
3
4%
Rarely, it's too much trouble
3
4%
Never, it's too intrusive
0
No votes
Never for protest or political reasons
5
7%
 
Total votes: 67

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BigBear
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by BigBear » August 8th, 2019, 8:48 am

In answer to the initial question: I have always "filled out" a permit, but not the personal information. NEPA requests USFS to "monitor" use in the forest, but asking for my home address is personal information.

As to whether USFS personnel are "good people" its too vague of an issue. You are the sum of your actions. If your actions are good, then you are good...if your actions are bad, then you're bad. Is the USFS complying with the law, court decisions, etc? If not...

The trail-by-trail restrictions have soured me on hiking after three decades. I only have contempt for USFS in their infringement on my rights to access public lands. Anyone who defends such restrictions must not want to hike or is too naive to understand what has happened in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and other places where outfitter guides scoop up the permits and charge high fees. Having these restrictions apply to all of the trailheads (Columbia River Gorge is already in the process of transitioning to trail-by-trail fees and Mt. Hood is next) will mean you have to dig deep if you want to go hiking. What was once a right is soon to be a priviledge...of the wealthy.

You can disagree with me, and you can watch your hiking options get crossed off your list as you do. Pamelia Lake, check. Obsidian Trail, check. Alpine Lakes, check. Dog Mountain, check. Mt. Jeff and 3 Sisters, check, check, check...

I'd conclude with happy trails, but you and I won't be able to afford to visit them.

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jessbee
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by jessbee » August 8th, 2019, 12:40 pm

I agree with your perspective BigBear, and I'll add this about "solitude:"

According to the research, if you survey the folks up at Green Lakes on a Saturday afternoon in August if they are experiencing solitude, they say YES. The amount of people they encounter does not have a negative impact on THEIR experience.

So who decides what's "too popular" and who decides what "solitude" means for anyone besides themselves?

That's not solitude to me, so I don't hike Green Lakes on a Saturday afternoon in August. It's that simple. Let the crowds have their Instagram moments. Meanwhile the rest of the forest is wide open for anyone who wants to find peace and quiet. I do it EVERY weekend out there.
Will break trail for beer.

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retired jerry
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by retired jerry » August 8th, 2019, 1:01 pm

"That's not solitude to me, so I don't hike Green Lakes on a Saturday afternoon in August."

Yeah, exactly. Or I'll just hike through. Plenty of places nearby if I want solitude.

And some people don't want solitude but prefer more of a group experience. That's fine too.

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BigBear
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by BigBear » August 8th, 2019, 1:22 pm

I do not disagree that the current trail usage does not equal solitude. I have been an avid hiker since the late 1980s and I am very unhappy with the number of people on the trail.

However (pause for effect)...

With the proposed limits, you will be experiencing solitude from your couch in the living room. The number of available spots for each trail will leave the majority of the people without a wilderness hike. The choice is either (1) go home and leave a permanent imprint on their couch, or (2) try to visit a non-wilderness trail that will now have hundreds of vehicles competing for limited spots. Think Dog Mountain, Eagle Creek, Multnomah Falls - all trails without solitude issues in the wilderness because the people only hike a few miles up the trail before turning around.

Applauding the limits on hikers is only a reality if you are willing to shell out $10 for a hiking permit, $5 for an illegal parking permit, and are somehow one of the lucky few who actually get the permit. Everyone else will be left scratching their heads wondering how to visit their formerly public lands that will now be fenced off by a draconian permit system.

So, celebrate the restrictions...but you'll more likely than not be doing it from home.

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Water
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by Water » August 8th, 2019, 1:29 pm

drm wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 6:49 am
I was responding to the claim that it was a foregone conclusion.

Regarding whether to limit visitation for crowded areas, note that part of the definition of wilderness in the Wilderness Act includes "has outstanding opportunities for solitude." So I think it is a valid position to say that proper regulation of wilderness limits access when a part of any designated wilderness gets really popular. I completely acknowledge how complicated this gets in the real world, and that how you actually do that if you do is important, there are many ways to do so.
Not meaning to come at you drm, glad you kept participating. Like I said, my 'ire' is quite absent for the guy in a truck or a trail crew, even though you will hear me complain about things, I realize none of these people make policy. Though an enforcement ranger might be enforcing policy contrary to how it should be, by just 'following their orders' and all. I can live with that. It's the higher up management that clear does have motivations and some agendas. Doesn't have to be a conspiracy or nefarious even, but there's definitely latitude in shaping how a National Forest unit operates and interacts with the public based on the vision of those in managemen/directing it.

The Central Oregon debacle is a great example. This is clearly those supervisors making a choice based on their own personal interpretation of the wilderness act. They tried to provide metrics on multiple fronts to demonstrate their rationale, but they spoke to both Solitude and environmental damage. It was a conclusion they would be limiting access one way or another. One only need look at the increase of visitation and impact in (XYZ National Forest (Hood is smaller, probably sees more people than Deschutes National Forest)). Are they really saying Central Oregon is such a special snowflake (and I kinda hate saying that) of a National Forest that above every other National Forest in the country, it deserves (in the supervisor's own words) "unprecedented" restriction? If each NF is going to address increased visitation in their own way, then it is absolutely going to be open to the administrators and their own ethos to an appreciable degree.

I don't buy that at all considering other National Forests and wilderness areas near other large population centers in the West. (Denver, Seattle come to mind..heck even Portland with Hood and Giff being closer than much of those other districts. :roll: )
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drm
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by drm » August 9th, 2019, 12:20 pm

Water wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 1:29 pm
The Central Oregon debacle is a great example. This is clearly those supervisors making a choice based on their own personal interpretation of the wilderness act. They tried to provide metrics on multiple fronts to demonstrate their rationale, but they spoke to both Solitude and environmental damage. It was a conclusion they would be limiting access one way or another. One only need look at the increase of visitation and impact in (XYZ National Forest (Hood is smaller, probably sees more people than Deschutes National Forest)). Are they really saying Central Oregon is such a special snowflake (and I kinda hate saying that) of a National Forest that above every other National Forest in the country, it deserves (in the supervisor's own words) "unprecedented" restriction? If each NF is going to address increased visitation in their own way, then it is absolutely going to be open to the administrators and their own ethos to an appreciable degree.

I don't buy that at all considering other National Forests and wilderness areas near other large population centers in the West. (Denver, Seattle come to mind..heck even Portland with Hood and Giff being closer than much of those other districts. :roll: )
Yes, I've commented many times before that the leadership in each given national forest, and sometimes individual districts within a forest, have a lot of latitude, and overall I think this is a good thing in general. But a good thing in general is not a good thing for you (you in general, not you = Water) if the decision-makers in the forest you like to visit have a different perspective than you do. It does seem that Deschutes and Hood decision makers have a different perspective on how to respond to crowds, as Hood either doesn't care or has thrown up their hands in defeat. I would actually claim that the free-for-all on Hood may well be in violation of the Wilderness Act, but no, I haven't complained to them and have no plan to do so. :roll: And of course there are the hundreds of people who crowd onto the Lunch Counter on the Mt Adams South climb on a nice summer weekend day, though the GP may some day put a quota on that too (no it hasn't been decided nor is that imminent).

I would add that while I fully understand the idea that we let crowds collect in a few places so as to save other areas, the Wilderness Act doesn't have a provision I know of for sacrifice zones (a phrase that miners used to use in asking to be allowed to ruin the environment in some areas because they said the country needed what they produced). So while many people here prefer how Mt Hood is managed to Central Oregon, I think the case can be made that Deschutes is trying to follow the letter of the law while Hood ignores the issue. And I heard one story that the MHNF once planned some kind of quota system but got pushback from Wyden, but I do not know for sure if that is true.

justpeachy
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by justpeachy » August 9th, 2019, 12:30 pm

drm wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 12:20 pm
And I heard one story that the MHNF once planned some kind of quota system but got pushback from Wyden, but I do not know for sure if that is true.
Forest Service drops proposal for Mount Hood access limits
From The Oregonian, July 7, 2000

Hopefully that link works. If not, you can login through Multnomah County Library with your library card.

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Bosterson
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by Bosterson » August 9th, 2019, 12:38 pm

drm wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 12:20 pm
I would actually claim that the free-for-all on Hood may well be in violation of the Wilderness Act...

I would add that while I fully understand the idea that we let crowds collect in a few places so as to save other areas, the Wilderness Act doesn't have a provision I know of for sacrifice zones...
Not to get too sidetracked onto the Central Cascades fiasco, but this is really the crux of the nuclear response of the Deschutes/Willamette NF managers.

In the Wilderness Act of 1964 [Public Law 88-577 (16 U.S.C. 1131-1136)], the word "solitude" is mentioned exactly once, in a section that I will quote in its entirety (emphasis added):
DEFINITION OF WILDERNESS
(c) A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.
I would contend that it is an extreme and unreasonable reading of that passage for you (or the Deschutes NF, etc) to assert that the phrase "has outstanding opportunities for solitude" implies that "solitude" (the threshold of which is undefined) must be available in every square inch of a wilderness area, versus being a quality that is generally or mostly present in the wilderness as a whole.

If the Lunch Counter on Adams is a zoo but the rest of the Adams Wilderness is uncrowded or effectively empty of people (especially in sections where there are no trails), can you really say the requirement for "outstanding opportunities for solitude" is not being met?

As a side note, per provision (c)(2) above, the area must have "outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation." Note the OR rather than an AND. I would contend that camping at the Lunch Counter is "primitive" regardless of the hordes of people one might be sharing it with, and thus a "primitive" area with no solitude to be found would still meet that provision for wilderness character.

The FS is seizing upon the solitude line as a cudgel to justify access restrictions in lieu of actual land management (like building or maintaining user areas, trails, etc). I don't envy them in these times of diminished budgets, and I certainly bristle at the thought of trash, fire rings, user braids, etc all over the wilderness, but their application of the "solitude" provision to justify draconian access restrictions and permit fees is off the deep end and not supported by the Act itself. I wish I'd read this more closely before I was crafting my appeal for the Central Cascades proposal, as I took their "solitude" assertions at face value... :evil:
Will hike off trail for fun.

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retired jerry
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by retired jerry » August 9th, 2019, 1:38 pm

"the Lunch Counter on Adams is a zoo but the rest of the Adams Wilderness is uncrowded"

If there is an increase at Lunch Counter from previous years then we ought to restrict usage to the entire wilderness, require permit from internet, etc... Goat Rocks too. </sarcasm>

The wilderness act also says that a purpose of the act is to provide recreation for humans. If they're restricting usage, that seems contradictory.

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Guy
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Re: Do you register when entering a wilderness area?

Post by Guy » August 9th, 2019, 2:01 pm

justpeachy wrote: drm wrote: ↑August 9th, 2019, 1:20 pm
And I heard one story that the MHNF once planned some kind of quota system but got pushback from Wyden, but I do not know for sure if that is true.
Forest Service drops proposal for Mount Hood access limits From The Oregonian, July 7, 2000
I went to a couple of public hearings on that MT Hood proposal it was hugely unpopular, they made the mistake of holding a meeting at the Sandy USFS office on A Saturday when people could actually attend. The place was overrun with hikers and all were against their proposal, I didn't meet a single one who spoke in favor of it and yet they continued to try and spin the idea that there was a lot of public support for the idea even in the meetings I attended which was laughable.
Bosterson wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 12:38 pm
The FS is seizing upon the solitude line as a cudgel to justify access restrictions in lieu of actual land management (like building or maintaining user areas, trails, etc). I don't envy them in these times of diminished budgets, and I certainly bristle at the thought of trash, fire rings, user braids, etc all over the wilderness, but their application of the "solitude" provision to justify draconian access restrictions and permit fees is off the deep end and not supported by the Act itself. I wish I'd read this more closely before I was crafting my appeal for the Central Cascades proposal, as I took their "solitude" assertions at face value... :evil:
EXACTLY! The Solitude excuse!
Even with that it's still possible to find plenty of solitude on Mt Hood even on the loop/PCT trail. I've seen them taking surveys in the past just a mile west of timberline but that is totally bogus data as most people at that point are Timberline visitors I bet that more than 50% of the people at that point don't go much further and a mile or the Zigzag Canyon overlook at best. Just a few weeks ago we hiked to Paradise Park on a lovely weather Sunday. We were the only people there for over an hour.
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