Sometimes the idea of users paying for what they expect from the national forests (in terms of recreation) is simply incendiary. I, frankly, don’t really understand why, since it is not so for state parks or national parks. Here is an editorial from the Durange Herald (Durango, home of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition) that takes a more reasoned view (IMHO) concerning the idea of charging for various services when people climb certain fourteeners in Colorado.
Here’s a quote from the editorial:
There is, however, another reason serious hikers might want to consider footing some of the bill: Respect. The biggest non-tax contributors to the Forest Service budget are extractive users, who do pay extra – although, in many cases, probably not enough. With relatively low fees, recreationists could buy some clout. That is an investment worth considering.
In contrast, an article in the LA Times touches on some of the same issues (recreation impact) and suggests a solution- place based legislation- to make the San Gabriels a wilderness. Not sure exactly how this would translate into more funding to protect from recreationist damage- except that it would clearly come from the national taxpayer. Would it be simpler and more direct to simply charge the recreation users, as in the Fourteener example?
The Durango Herald editorial has an amazing quote from Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No Fee Coalition in Durango, as she told The Associated Press,
“The Forest Service didn’t create the mountains, and they have no right to charge access to them
Based on this same principle the Forest Service couldn’t charge for oil and gas, or coal, or timber. LIke I said, I really don’t understand why some folks think recreation users should make the general taxpayer pay for their use of the federal lands. Can someone enlighten me?