Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

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Bosterson
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by Bosterson » February 11th, 2019, 3:30 pm

Thanks for the update Jess. I was given a call-in number for the meeting today but wasn't able to get to it until after the meeting had started, and it was too awkward trying to listen to people talk without knowing how the conversation began, so I gave up. I may try to make the call tomorrow from the beginning. What all was talked about, and did it seem like the FS is being open to some adjustment to their plans, or are they just humoring us before they go about their business?

I got the email about the Feb 26 meeting (in downtown Portland) and am hoping to be able to go. It's sad to hear about the pitiful objection rate, but I guess we shouldn't be surprised that low level outrage + a sense of futility = attrition. :(
Will hike off trail for fun.

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jessbee
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by jessbee » February 11th, 2019, 3:42 pm

I can't be sure if they were just making us feel like we had a say or they were actually considering our objections.

There were three of us there along with John Allen, Beth Peer and two Forest service staff from Bend. On the phone were two supervisors (I think) from Willamette NF.

The three of us were given time to talk more deeply about our objections. They all listened and took notes. They reach replied to our objections and after that we were given a chance to respond to them directly.

I feel like the three of us were well prepared, spoke frankly and with good reasons behind our comments and the meeting was run smoothly. The guys on the phone really didn't say anything and John Allen simply repeated the same talking points the FS had been making all along.

All I can do is try though, right? So I'll keep fighting...
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cunningkeith
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by cunningkeith » February 11th, 2019, 5:14 pm

Thanks for keeping us updated on this. That is a pretty stunning attrition rate.

I'm going to try to join one of these as well. I'll be curious to detect whether the FS is actually listening at this stage. Ideally, we stakeholders would make sensible suggestions and they would implement them in the end. But like a lot of you, I'm skeptical.

My sense is that stakeholders' only leverage here is a legal challenge. The local FS personnel (or their supervisors) might listen then. At least those of us who filed objections preserved that right.

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Bosterson
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by Bosterson » February 12th, 2019, 12:55 pm

I had a phone conference call with them. It sounds like their plans are pretty set, so I don't see much changing, but they are expecting to have some final decision made by the beginning of April.

Takeaways:
  • Offtrail hiking will require a permit issued for the nearest trailhead (I have no idea how they would measure "nearest" or how this would be regulated - will they have "offtrail rangers"?).
  • They consider limited entry areas - despite their success at Obsidion and Pamelia - to be too tricky for the public to understand, as people show up to those areas expecting them to be accessible. This could be part of the justification for applying broad regulations at the "entire wilderness" level.
  • Even though many of the quotas would only be efficacious on a few days of the year, they are planning for future overuse. They do not seem amenable to starting with fewer regulated areas to reflect current use, measure the effects, and then scale up as necessary.
  • Total overnight quotas are needed because overnight people can travel from underused areas into overused areas.
  • They are not able to enforce current parking regulations (which the FS does not appear to be able to do - the sheriff is responsible), and lack the budget to have enough ranger enforcement. So these regulations to some extent self-justify, as the permit fees will pay for the enforcement that is already needed.
  • They understand that fees impact low-income people but the fee amounts aren't up for discussion until the next stage of this process, and it doesn't sound like they would reconsider day use fees due to the point above.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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cunningkeith
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by cunningkeith » February 12th, 2019, 1:08 pm

They also said:

-they weren't aware of any system like this in the nation's 765 wilderness areas; while a few have overnight fees/quotas, nobody has widespread fees/quotas for day hikes--we'll be the first in the nation!!!

-they won't require NW Forest Pass at a TH if you pay for the quota/permit fee

-overnight quotas will be based on number of groups, not number of individuals; b/c group size can be up to 12, that means that at a sold-out night at Obsidian (with a proposed limit of 13 groups), there will be anywhere from 13 people to 156 people--that's a nice precise conservation management plan ;)

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Water
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by Water » February 12th, 2019, 1:36 pm

Keith, I almost reached out to you when I was going through the objections in the 'reading room' a while ago.

As I've spoken to a few people, I can't believe the degree of research, critical and comparative analysis, and overall reading, on a 'moving target' so to speak, is required to fully engage the process to a level required to present the FS with appropriate objections. It's upper level collegiate final project level work, or a mini-course, etc. I don't think just anyone should be able to say "fuck this plan" and basically put a wrench in any administrative/bureaucratic process or plan or evolution. But by the same token this is at the far end of the spectrum for what the average user of the woods has the bandwidth and time to invest. Referring to the respective NF action plans, all the alternatives, research, uncited assumptions/statements in final statement, etc, and while still disregarding any potential for cost concerns as 'that's for later'. :roll:

Yours was far and above one of the very best, extremely well written, cited, and formatted. a huge THANK YOU for your efforts on that.

I get pretty bent out of shape about this. I've 'railed' against permits for 10+ years and when you consider this going in, and that it might get even further restricted say..10 or 20 years from now, it does not bode well for future generations. It almost feels like these FS districts felt they couldn't do their job so they decided to deal with it by just highly restricting wilderness access and letting the 'internet' outsource the issue. Obs the FS managers have latitude in pushing for this type of thing, given they are the 'first', I can only hope it eventually blows up in their faces and there's professional consequences for trying to push a personal interpretation of regs. At the end of the day, where's the science? It's telling me this stretch of central oregon wilderness has conditions totally unlike any other wilderness areas in the country? Bull.
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Aimless
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by Aimless » February 12th, 2019, 1:54 pm

Bosterson wrote:
February 12th, 2019, 12:55 pm
I had a phone conference call with them. It sounds like their plans are pretty set, so I don't see much changing, but they are expecting to have some final decision made by the beginning of April.

Takeaways:
Almost all of those takeaways revolve around the lack of money for enforcement, including needing more money just to enforce of current regulations and still more money to cover additional enforcement of the new and stricter regulations. But what happens if the money is not forthcoming, either because the public remains ignorant of the need to buy permits and therefore do not buy them, or the public simply decides to boycott the new system and hike at will without paying for backcountry permits? It would seem that either of these outcomes would put the FS right back in the position of having no money for enforcement and the new regulations would be no better enforced than current ones.

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Bosterson
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by Bosterson » February 12th, 2019, 2:03 pm

Aimless wrote:
February 12th, 2019, 1:54 pm
But what happens if the money is not forthcoming, either because the public remains ignorant of the need to buy permits and therefore do not buy them, or the public simply decides to boycott the new system and hike at will without paying for backcountry permits? It would seem that either of these outcomes would put the FS right back in the position of having no money for enforcement and the new regulations would be no better enforced than current ones.
I specifically asked them how they expect to enforce additional regulations if they don't have the budget to enforce the current ones, and their answer was that the revenue will come from the new user fees. It seems like they have all their eggs in that basket, which presumably makes the outcome of this process a foregone conclusion. They said they have data showing high compliance with permits/limited entry, so it appears they expect this will work. If only their proposal had been to drum up stakeholder support to push Congress to give the FS more funding! :roll:
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Guy
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by Guy » February 12th, 2019, 2:23 pm

This has all been so very depressing. I'm one of the 44 who objected but with so few objections I'm thinking they are just going to do whatever they want to do regardless of what anyone says.

I know that I and others here have also contacted our senators and congressmen over this. I received no feedback & not heard any of them speak about this publicly either.

It's seems that as it so often is the fix is in :(

My greatest fear now is that MHNF will follow suit.
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cunningkeith
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Re: Visit the Central Cascades while you still can...

Post by cunningkeith » February 12th, 2019, 2:34 pm

Water wrote:
February 12th, 2019, 1:36 pm
Keith, I almost reached out to you when I was going through the objections in the 'reading room' a while ago.

Yours was far and above one of the very best, extremely well written, cited, and formatted. a huge THANK YOU for your efforts on that.
Thanks a lot! It was a labor of love, so I'm glad somebody read it!

There really are legal restrictions on their ability to do this. I hope that the land managers are getting an outside opinion on this.

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