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Jake

Forest Circus drops fees at some sights

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Forest Service to drop fees at some sites: Northwest Forest Pass will no longer be needed at 400 trailheads, including about 60 in NCW

 

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - About 400 recreation sites in Oregon and Washington, including up to 60 in North Central Washington, will no longer require visitors to purchase a Northwest Forest Pass, under a new proposal made by the U.S. Forest Service.

 

The downsizing is one of the most significant revisions in the 6-year-old recreation fee program, and comes as Congress is considering legislation to make the pay-to-park program permanent.

 

The Forest Service plans to remove remote, undeveloped and low-use trailheads by next spring from the list of places where cars must display a $5 daily forest pass or $30 annual pass.

 

"These are very, very low-end trailheads with little development - little more than a wide spot in the road," said Jim Archambeault, a recreation planner for the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests.

 

"Trailheads like those in the Icicle Valley with lots of development, with bulletin boards, toilets, interpretive signs and facilities for horses, will still require the pass," he said.

 

Between 50 and 60 sites in the two NCW forests will no longer require the pass, Archambeault said. Many of them are in the Lake Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cle Elum and Naches ranger districts.

 

However, about two dozen of those sites are dispersed, undeveloped places where people could camp with the forest pass. Those sites will likely require separate camping fees, he said.

 

The list of sites that no longer require the forest pass won't be released until early next year, Archambeault said.

 

The changes in the forest pass program reflect an effort to bring more consistency nationwide to the types of national forest sites that require recreation fees.

 

They also address public feedback that shows hikers, mountain bikers and others who use national forests are more likely to support the fees at developed sites, including those with restrooms, picnic tables and fire rings, said Jocelyn Biro, Northwest recreation fee coordinator for the Forest Service.

 

"The public has not complained about paying fees when they see their money is being used for on-the-ground maintenance and upkeep for a service that is provided," Biro said. "When you charge a fee and people can't tie that dollar to something on the ground, that's when you have an issue."

 

Forests keep up to 92 percent of the fees to maintain and improve amenities at the sites where the pass is required. In 2002, the pass generated $3.7 million, up from

 

$3 million the year before in

 

17 national forests in Oregon and Washington.

 

At the same time the Forest Service is reducing sites overall, a bill in the House would make the fees permanent nationwide for the Forest Service and four other agencies: the Bureau of Land Management, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation. A second bill, before the Senate, would give just the park service permanent fee authority.

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Interesting, I'm not certain what to make of this. Any ideas on what they are thinking? confused.gif

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Get people used to the idea of paying fees for development they may or may not want. This looks like a minor appeasement meant to ward off criticism.

 

But yet some undeveloped sites that are usable for camping may require a new, separate camping fee???

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screw the forest service. i am so pissed at them that i thinks i will burn and cut down all the trees. oh wait. they are doing that themselves. madgo_ron.gifhellno3d.gif

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Jake said:

..."Trailheads like those in the Icicle Valley with lots of development, with bulletin boards, toilets, interpretive signs and facilities for horses, will still require the pass," he said...

 

I'm for "un-developing" as many USFS facilities as possible.

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