The Fee- No Fee- Park Cycle: Is There a Better Way?
Is this a pattern? A heavily used recreation area managed by the FS charges fees, and the charges get struck down in court. Here’s an editorial about Red Rocks on the Coconino. As the writers note, it isn’t clear where the funding is going to come from.
The last time we were discussing this, it was with regard to a newspaper article here, about an effort to make part of the Angeles NF a park or recreation area. I think that the piece is an excellent description of real-world urban forest 21st century problems. Here are some quotes:
Torres blames part of the lack of resources on the fact that many of the canyon’s users are Latino.
“If these people were Anglo, there would be more resources. It is a big social justice issue,” she said.
By comparison, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area spends about 15 times more on recreation than the Angeles National Forest, according to a Michigan State University study.
Dumpis said the comparison isn’t exactly fair because of the types of recreation in question.
“I think we are getting our fair share compared with other forests. But I imagine they would all say they need more resources,” he said.
Federal funding is allocated based on park usage and park acreage, he said.
The Angeles National Forest also supplements its budget with the sale of Adventure Passes, amounting to about $1.2 million a year. And a team of volunteers also dedicate thousands of hours to the forest, Dumpis said.
I asked the author about the study she cited (“spends 15 times more”), and she gave the cite, but I couldn’t find it on the web. The study was by Robert Richardson and called Recreation Use in National Forests, Urban Population Growth and Demographic Change: The Case of the San Gabriel Mountains. If you find it, please send a link.
In my simple mind, it seems like there should be a better way to deal with intense recreation use than making an area a National Park or Recreation Area. Those designations still cost the people who will use the land, but the designation generally comes with a lot more restrictions- plus the cost to the taxpayer of changing maps, bureaucratic institutions, etc.
It just seems to me like there ought to be an easier way to get the funding that is obviously needed to manage national forests, than the painful process of watching an area degenerate until a “make the area a park so it will be treated better” movement begins.