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Thread: Proposed fees for the Park

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Lenoir City, TN
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    982

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    "...overnight hikers and equestrians..."

    This is a way too serious a matter for "horsing" around, but do I perceive a potential loophole here for us none-of-the-above types?
    “Joe” Fred Turner
    Southern Appalachian Stream Maps
    sasMaps.com
    Formerly SmokyStreams.com

  2. #32
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    Jun 2009
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
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    Yes, this is the official press release and it has me seething. First of all, what the release doesn't say is that the ratio of those opposed to the fees as compared to those in favor was 19 to 1. Also, the two petitions which are mentioned almost as an afterthought garnered many hundreds of signatures, never mind that the time period to do so was very short.

    To make matters even worse, [The Park Service] screwed up big time in the original announcement of the hearings (there were only two, and even at those the public did not have the opportunity to address others in attendance). [The Park Service] press release gave the wrong dates and comment period. I personally called [the Park Service] and challenged the changes. [The] response was "we've corrected it." My answer was that you can't really correct something which has already been printed in regional media and announced over the air. Incidentally, the only "correction" was on the Park's web site. There was no formal follow up press release as a corrective.

    The simple matter of this is, couch it any way you want, the public's input meant absolutely nothing. It was virtually ignored. I might add that the Appalachian Trail folks spoke out against this and I fully anticipate a special "dispensation" of some kind for them, never mind the fact that pretty much the only backcountry camping issues are at AT shelters.

    Finally, if you read my op-ed piece on the whole issue (it appears above) you will see that the entire justification for the fees was based on a lie. The backcountry is far less crowded now than it was in the 1990s, and anyone who spends much time in remote areas can share tale after tale of walking by campsites which not only have no campers but show no sign of recent use.

    In summation, this is bureaucratic arrogance at its worst, and whatever modicum of respect I had for [the Park Service] just vanished. [They] betrayed some of his greatest potential allies, and guess who this impacts most: local folks.

    Jim Casada
    www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com
    Last edited by Paula Begley; 03-12-2012 at 07:41 AM. Reason: Removed individual Park Service staff name. P~

  3. #33
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    Sep 2008
    Location
    west tn
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    232

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    Although 4 dollars does not seem like much, it seems that it would have a negetive impact on the "local folks" as Mr. Casada points out. (I hope to be a local folk one day). At 4 dollars a night , it could get pretty expensive for someone that spends many nights in the backcountry. My fear, regardless of what the press release states, ids that these monies will be put into the general fund and just seem to dissapear with no earmark for the intended purpose. We all may end funding another study on the mating cycle of the South American wooly moth. That is not something I want my tax dollars or fees to pay for. flyguys

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Lenoir City, TN
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    982

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Casada View Post
    Yes, this is the official press release ...
    guess who this impacts most: local folks.

    Jim Casada
    www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com
    Count this 67 year old local folk as one affected as I am trying to help people enjoy the Park and maybe earn a little extra money to help pay for the mushrooming medical and energy costs and more we are all facing given the unbridled spending and borrowing so fondly embraced in D.C. The Federal Government is way over extending its reach into seemingly any and all aspects of our lives... in my humble opinion.

    Now I've got to put stream searching on hold for a bit while doing some soul searching.
    “Joe” Fred Turner
    Southern Appalachian Stream Maps
    sasMaps.com
    Formerly SmokyStreams.com

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Knoxville
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    11

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    The whole thing is a money grab and moreover a power grab by the park officials.
    A family of four going backpacking is presently free. Once the initial fees kick in, it will be close to 50 bucks for a long weekend. For a struggling family, that can be the difference between going and not going. When those parents opt to go somewhere else with there kids, that will be a generation that will grow up without exposure and appreciation to the park.
    As Mr. Casada mentioned,backcountry use has been on the decline for nearly twenty years. This will only serve to further reduce the number of visitors choosing to visit the parts of the park that are seen less often. The ones that stay at the backcountry sites far from the nearest trailheads tend to be some of the park's biggest supporters and stewards. Theses fees that are targeted solely at them are a slap in the face to the very proponents of the park.

    Having spent a few hundred nights in the park, I can attest that the purported problem of overcrowding and a poor reservation system is a false one. Most sites that are more than two miles from the nearest trailhead rarely has another occupant when I've been there on the weekends. During the week, seeing someone else a backcountry site has hardly ever happened for me.

    After the improperly invoked public comment phase has resulted in the implementation of the fees despite opposition from the vast majority making comments, raising those fees will take even less effort. If four bucks seems reasonable to the park in 2013, why wouldn't ten bucks seem equally as reasonable? When public outcries or opinions don't matter, there's really no limit to this power/money grab.

    While an angler can currently determine that the chores are caught up and the weather looks good before deciding to head out on a Friday after work to test his or her luck at some natives deep in the park, that decision will now be removed as the opportunity to drive up to a self-serve kiosk and fill out a permit at 8 PM will no longer exist. That angler will now have to go home and login to the reservation website and pull out a credit card to see if there are any openings the next night instead. So much for that early start from the campsite Saturday morning. Of course you could just roll the dice three weeks before and see if there haven't been any flash floods, bear closures or spring snow storms. You could always just skip the trip and let the park keep the money.

    Further, the insinuation that these fees will fund a reservation center, more hours of operation AND two more rangers is beyond insulting. To suggest that two more seasonal rangers can impact 798 miles of marked trails on a significant basis is absurd.

    This whole thing really casts an unflattering light on the management of the park and the park itself. The contrast of that light makes areas like Citico, Bald River Gorge and Slickrock and others with fewer restrictions and no fees look that much more attractive. The park can then become a museum to be visited by tubers,dayhikers and roadside anglers. After that, you can just buy a book if you want to know what it was once like to visit the park and experience all that it once offered.

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    93

    Angry Can't say what I really think...

    If I said what my opinion of [the Park Service] is I would be banned from this forum, but I did scrape something like it off of my shoe after I fed the dogs this morning.
    Last edited by Paula Begley; 03-12-2012 at 07:42 AM. Reason: Removed individual Park Service staff name. P~

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    117

    Default Possible Legal Precedent from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

    I found the following article that was posted on February 21, 2012 by Bob Berwyn on the Summit County Citizens Voice. http://summitcountyvoice.com/2012/02...her-legal-hit/

    Maybe there is a glimmer of hope after all.

    By Summit Voice

    SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service can’t charge recreation fees for simple access to public lands, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously last week, rejecting the agency’s bid to include undeveloped areas in the fee program.

    The San Francisco-based Appeals Court found the U.S. Forest Service at fault for charging parking fees to people who go for a hike without using amenities such as picnic tables, trashcans and bathrooms located nearby, or who camp in dispersed, undeveloped parts of a National Forest.
    If the ruling stands, it will be binding in nine western states and sets a nationwide legal precedent. The ruling doesn’t cover Colorado, but the fee program at Mt. Evans is currently being challenged in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals — which does cover Colorado, and the recent ruling out of San Francisco could be a factor in that case.

    Even before the ruling, the Forest Service was reviewing fee sites for compliance with the law, with a top-level panel recommending that some sites be removed from the program.

    At issue is the agency’s Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, designed to help fill holes in the Forest Service recreation budget. Under the program, the agency can charge fees for certain areas as long as specific amenities are provided.

    Initially, the Forest Service tried to include a wide range of areas under the program, for example charging fees to everyone who enters large recreation areas, even if those people don’t actually use the developed sites.
    Several groups, first and foremost the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, challenged the way the agency interprets the law, and the appeals court agreed:

    “The Forest Service fails to distinguish—as the statute does—between someone who glides into a paved parking space and sits at a picnic table enjoying a feast of caviar and champagne, and someone who parks on the side of the highway, sits on a pile of gravel, and eats an old baloney sandwich while the cars whizz by. The agency collects the same fee from both types of picnickers. That practice violates the statute’s plain text,” wroteJudge Robert Gettleman. “Everyone is entitled to enter national forests without paying a cent,” he said.

    The case (Adams vs. U.S. Forest Service) was brought in 2008 by four hikers who visit the Coronado National Forest around Mt. Lemmon, near Tucson. A district court judge upheld the fees, giving the agency deference under the Administrative Procedures Act.

    But the appeals court overturned that ruling, finding that the law doesn’t require a deferential decision, according to attorney Mary Ellen Barilotti, of Hood River, Oregon, who has been involved in numerous fee-related court battles.

    The court found the Forest Service at fault for charging parking fees to people who go for a hike without using amenities such as picnic tables, trashcans and bathrooms located nearby, or who camp in dispersed, undeveloped parts of a National Forest.

    Forest access fees began in 1996 under the Fee Demo program. They include the Adventure Pass, which covers much of the four National Forests in southern California, the Northwest Forest Pass, required at hundreds of trailheads in Oregon and Washington, the Red Rocks Pass at Sedona, Arizona, American Fork Canyon near Provo, Utah, Mt Evans Scenic Byway in Colorado, and dozens of other forest fee programs around the nation.
    In 2004, Fee Demo was replaced by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act enacted by Congress for ten years. The FLREA clearly prohibited fees solely for parking and hiking, but the U.S. Forest Service continued operating fee programs around the country that did just that.
    “Millions of Americans will once again be free to go for a walk in their national forests, which they jointly own and which have been maintained by their tax dollars for over a century, without being ticketed by Forest Service staff,” said Western Slope No-Fee Coalition president Kitty Benzar.
    The Forest Service is studying the ruling, and has 60 days to request a rehearing.
    Dave







  8. #38
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    93

    Red face Apologies

    I would like to apologize for the crudeness of my previous post. Although that is my opinion I shouldn't have stated it in such a way here. I lay the blame entirely on several ounces of Jameson Irish.

    Mike W.

  9. #39
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    Jan 2006
    Location
    Tallahassee, Florida
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    906

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    I think that if you are going to blame your criticism..albeit legitimate..of a problem that is local in nature on a taste you should at least buy American and support the local economy.

  10. #40
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    Jun 2010
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    Knoxville, Tn
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    Unfortunately, I don't think the precedent regarding undeveloped areas in the public lands/national forests applies. This is a national park we are talking about, which is not regulated by the national forest service, but by the national parks service. Other national parks have been charging fees for years for all sorts of camping and entrance to the undeveloped areas within those parks. The only bright side is that the precedent has been laid to prevent similar charges within the primitive areas of the Cherokee, Nantahala, Pigsah, etc...

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