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mike1

Saint Helen's permit

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I heard today that local news was reporting that snowmobilers do not need to get climbing permits at all... ever. Only climbers have to get them (year round, but you only have to pay during the climbing season). I haven't seen or heard anything reported myself. But I did notice today that The Monument has updated their web page. Can anyone confirm these reports? If so, how can they justify that? Okay, the foot traffic during summer justifies management... maybe. but winter travel? C'mon!

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I was wondering about that myself. i seriously doubt that guy who fell in had a climbing permit.

 

the winter permit seems like BS to me. I would like to see an actual account of what they do with that money before i pay it.

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You only pay for the permit during the summer climbing season, they just want you to get what one at other times. My initial understanding was that snowmobilers didn't have to get permits, but mabey it was just that they didn't and it wasn't enforced. I wouldn't be suprised if there was a double standard.

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I heard today that local news was reporting that snowmobilers do not need to get climbing permits at all... ever. Only climbers have to get them (year round, but you only have to pay during the climbing season). I haven't seen or heard anything reported myself. But I did notice today that The Monument has updated their web page. Can anyone confirm these reports? If so, how can they justify that? Okay, the foot traffic during summer justifies management... maybe. but winter travel? C'mon!

Short answer: it's confirmed.

 

I just spoke with Mt. St. H. Climbing Ranger Mark Walker, who was very helpful in answering a number of questions I had regarding access and permits. The following is what I learned primarily from Mark but also from reading the St. H. website.

 

Access:

Marble Mount Sno-Park is still closed: Road 83 has up to 5' of snow and downed trees. Road 83 is presently open only about a mile past its junction with Road 90. I'm not sure of the exact mileage, but that would be at least 4 miles from Marble Mount Sno-Park. Crews are plowing and clearing as they can, but forecasted new snow this weekend will obviously slow that. Hard to predict when 83 will open all the way to Marble Mount Sno Park, but estimates vary from 2 to 4 weeks or more.

 

Personally, I've been planning to head up the first weekend of May. I'll check the website or call back at the beginning of that week to check progress.

 

Permits:

Indeed there's presently a double-standard as far as climbing/skiing vs. snowmobiling above 4800'. A climbing permit is required year-round for anyone not on a snowmobile; snowmobilers can access terrain above 4800' until May 14 as long as they stay with their sled and don't go north of the crater rim.

 

Sledders are required to display a Sno-Park permit (on both the sled and the towing vehicle), which is received in WA state as part of the snowmobile license registration of $30. The required climbing permit costs $22 per climber from Apr 1-Oct 31 and consequently is free from Nov 1-Mar 31. The climbing permit must be applied for online, and picked up now at the Lone Fir Resort (since Jack's burnt down).

 

Gary told me management is assessing the issue, and suggested the strong possibility that sledders in the future will have to purchase a climbing permit to go above 4800'. A decision would likely not be made before sledding is to cease after May 14 of this year, but may be instituted before next fall.

 

I had to finish the conversation and didn't get to ask two questions which I'll ask next time. One, I didn't get the chance to ask about the penalty for not having a permit. Second, I didn't confirm who would be the primary contact regarding management decisions. Mt. St. Helens is designated a National Monument, and is managed by the Forest Service, I believe through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Mt. St. Helens Monument Manager is Tom Mulder, who is one obvious contact if you'd like to respectfully express your opinion. PM if you'd like his contact info.

 

Here's an interesting discussion on the climbing permit issue from last year.

 

--Steve Reynolds

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Good info! Thanks. I will not be getting/paying for a permit to hike St. Helens this spring. I'm gonna go natural. While there are permit schemes I support, the third-party extortion racket in effect at this public monument makes my blood boil.

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Speaking of that, when they started selling permits online only, I tried to ask them how much of the $22 permit cost (old $15 permit fee + new $7 'service charge') goes to active.com (the private, exclusive permit vendor) and how much to the Mt. St. Helens Institute (a private nonprofit, administering the permit sales?). They didn't want to give me an answer by e-mail. Does anyone know specifically how the permit revenue is distributed now?

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Active.com takes a % of your 'registration fee' in exchange for using their service. I know this because I've promoted a couple of bicycle races using active.com for registration in the past.

 

I will conjecture that rather than use their extremely limited budget to have employees do the process for them, they are willing to let a small percentage (I'd be shocked if it was more than 10% of your total fee) go to active.com in exchange for their very useful architecture / structure. They'll send the Mt. St. Helens Institute a very nice spreadsheet outlining all of the information from permit purchasers, saving the Mt. St. Helens many human hours of time.

 

I would get your panties out of a bunch on this one. There is pretty heavy pressure on the Wenatchee FS district to outsource their Enchantments permits system to a similar contractor (one who does all of the FS campground reservations) for similar reasons. It simplifies things greatly on many sides.

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Yes but please note that my post posed questions not assumptions, and that $15 * 1.1 != $22. So my question stands: where does the each part of the extra $7 fee actually go, specifically? It seems like this kind of information should be readily available on the website(s) selling the permits. (but maybe I am blind, or things have changed since I last looked?)

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I just called the St. Helens institute for an issue unrelated to this thread (I couldn't find a confirmation email of the dates of the permits I purchased a couple of months ago, this thread reminded me to follow up on it). After I got my question sorted, I asked them about your question. It was explained to me that $15 still goes to the Forest Service, $5 goes to support the St. Helens Institute, and $2 goes to active.com as a fee for their service. I was told that the St. Helens Institute is a primarily volunteer - staffed organization that does various stuff to support awareness/education/preservation.

 

They were very friendly and helpful on the phone, and I suggested they post the information regarding the breakdown of fees on their websites so that the paranoid/cheapskate/those with too much time on their hands can be know where they money is going.

Edited by jared_j

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So because someone wants to know where their money is going, they are automatically labeled paranoid/cheapskate/having way too much time on their hands?

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I just called the St. Helens institute for an issue unrelated to this thread (I couldn't find a confirmation email of the dates of the permits I purchased a couple of months ago, this thread reminded me to follow up on it). After I got my question sorted, I asked them about your question. It was explained to me that $15 still goes to the Forest Service, $5 goes to support the St. Helens Institute, and $2 goes to active.com as a fee for their service. I was told that the St. Helens Institute is a primarily volunteer - staffed organization that does various stuff to support awareness/education/preservation.

 

They were very friendly and helpful on the phone, and I suggested they post the information regarding the breakdown of fees on their websites so that the paranoid/cheapskate/those with too much time on their hands can be know where they money is going.

 

Kiss off. jarred. What gives a third-party concessionaire the right to extort money from monument visitors? They sure as hell don't do anything in regard to a climbing program that I can see. If I see one of these enviro-pricks asking to see my permit I'll just keep right on going.

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My interest in the accounting arose due to the nearly 50% increase in the fee, without a clear understanding (explanation) of how the extra funds were distributed. I'm not arguing whether or not the absolute value of the permit cost is 'cheap' or not. But in terms of percentages, a 47% increase is not what I would describe as 'cheap,' so I am/was just curious how the extra revenue is distributed. That is simply information that we have a right to (thanks btw), and how we react that information is another matter.

 

Personally I don't know enough about the MSHI to pass judgment on their cut. I'll leave that to someone else because I am usually sympathetic to honest-seeming stewardship efforts. I am wary however of the contract for permit sales with a single private vendor. I don't know what the details of the contract are, but non-competitive private contracting creates a for-profit monopoly ripe with scalping opportunities.

 

Anyway call it paranoid, but supporting a fee system without understanding it is essentially asking the administrator to protect the sheeple from their own ignorance. It is the clichéd blank check. Now maybe you could call the I.R.S. for me...?

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I just called the St. Helens institute for an issue unrelated to this thread (I couldn't find a confirmation email of the dates of the permits I purchased a couple of months ago, this thread reminded me to follow up on it). After I got my question sorted, I asked them about your question. It was explained to me that $15 still goes to the Forest Service, $5 goes to support the St. Helens Institute, and $2 goes to active.com as a fee for their service. I was told that the St. Helens Institute is a primarily volunteer - staffed organization that does various stuff to support awareness/education/preservation.

 

They were very friendly and helpful on the phone, and I suggested they post the information regarding the breakdown of fees on their websites so that the paranoid/cheapskate/those with too much time on their hands can be know where they money is going.

 

Kiss off. jarred. What gives a third-party concessionaire the right to extort money from monument visitors? They sure as hell don't do anything in regard to a climbing program that I can see. If I see one of these enviro-pricks asking to see my permit I'll just keep right on going.

 

Is the mountain still patrolled by the Forest Service?

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I spoke with another climbing ranger yesterday. New/updated info:

 

1. Road is expected to be plowed up to the Cougar Sno-Park by the weekend. If I remember right, Cougar Sno-Park is at the junction where Road 830 forks left to Climbers Bivy, and Road 83 continues to the right/east to the Marble Mount Sno-Park. This would still leave about 5 extra miles one way.

 

2. Last Saturday, from the plowed end of Road 83, 61 rigs parallel-parked for a mile-long stretch. Almost all rigs were snowmobile-related. More expected this weekend.

 

3. According to the ranger, the trail to Climbers Bivy is shared between sledders and climbers/skiers. If a line is drawn from Climber's Bivy to the summit, sledders are to stay to the west and out of the corridor that climbers take to the summit.

 

4. Fine for not having a climbing permit above 4800' is $100.

 

The climbing rangers do patrol it. I've made it to the mountain about half of the years over the last 20, almost always this same weekend just coming up, and most of those times I've seen a ranger on the mountain. This year I'm not going due to the access issues at St. H and the great abundance of snow I still have in the mountains here in eastern WA/north ID.

 

As far as the Mt. St. Helens Institute is concerned, as a 501©(3) nonprofit their financials and other info are a matter of public record, and it's freely available on the web if you know where to look. I'm reluctant to spray hard or critically about any organization for whom I haven't studied or don't have the full facts, especially a nonprofit. (Like belaying off Nalgene loops, spraying ill-informedly about others or organizations is a hot-button issue for me, and what coaxed me out of lurkdom and onto cc.com in the first place. :ooo:)

 

The Mt. St. H. Institute started collecting climbing fees last year, so we should have already started seeing how it comes back to us as climbers. I haven't been to St. H. for a couple years, so haven't seen it first hand. From a national nonprofit reporting organization, St. H. Institute claims the following:

 

Accomplishments for Fiscal Year Ending December 31, 2007

- Repaired and cleaned 87 miles of trails with over 250 volunteers

- Supported 15,000 Mount St. Helens climbers with permits, education, trail maintanance and climbing brochures

- Volunteer Docents were available to provide education and lead short guided hikes for 500,000 visitors to the monument

 

Objectives for Fiscal Year Beginning January 1, 2008

- Implement Kids in the Woods Volcano Explorers program to introduce elementary students to science in general and volcanoes specifically

- Repair and clean 125 miles of trails with up to 400 volunteers equalling 3200 volunteer hours

- Expand the Mountain Stewards Program to meet climber needs--recruit and train up to 20 Mountain Stewards and offer climbing support at least 5 days per week during the season. Equates to approximately 1500 volunteer hours over 4 months.

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I'm not sold. This would be akin to The Audubon Society or The Sierra Club being granted the exclusive right to administer the climbing permit program at Mount Rainier and collect fees. Bullshit. "The Institute" can keep their brochures...and show me some pictures of their "trail work/repairs" as related to actual climbing routes. This is a scam masquerading as public education. If I am stopped along the trail by a ranger I will just politely tell him/her that I am a snowmobiler.

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ranger: snowmobiler eh? wheres ur sled?

 

fairweather: drove it into the crater the otherday, going back to get it now!

 

 

sounds good to me!

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I'm not sold. This would be akin to The Audubon Society or The Sierra Club being granted the exclusive right to administer the climbing permit program at Mount Rainier and collect fees. Bullshit. "The Institute" can keep their brochures...and show me some pictures of their "trail work/repairs" as related to actual climbing routes. This is a scam masquerading as public education. If I am stopped along the trail by a ranger I will just politely tell him/her that I am a snowmobiler.

 

While I'm not too jazzed about the idea of permit fees on public land, the Forest Service is the stepchild of public agencies right now, has had to consolidate beyond it's resource needs, and is being pushed hard by the Bushies to contract out portions of their work. So - the current administration is responsible for the cutbacks and the philosphy of having third party contractors.

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I'm not sold. This would be akin to The Audubon Society or The Sierra Club being granted the exclusive right to administer the climbing permit program at Mount Rainier and collect fees. Bullshit. "The Institute" can keep their brochures...and show me some pictures of their "trail work/repairs" as related to actual climbing routes. This is a scam masquerading as public education. If I am stopped along the trail by a ranger I will just politely tell him/her that I am a snowmobiler.

 

While I'm not too jazzed about the idea of permit fees on public land, the Forest Service is the stepchild of public agencies right now, has had to consolidate beyond it's resource needs, and is being pushed hard by the Bushies to contract out portions of their work. So - the current administration is responsible for the cutbacks and the philosphy of having third party contractors.

 

whether it's "Bush's fault" (damn that liberal mantra is tiresome) or not is irrelevant. the St. Helens fee structure (not just climbing but parking there) is bullshit and needs to be fixed.

 

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Supported 15,000 Mount St. Helens climbers with permits
How generous! yay! permits for everyone! :moondance:

Maybe for a couple more dollars we can support a nonprofit editor :grlaf:

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whether it's "Bush's fault" (damn that liberal mantra is tiresome) or not is irrelevant. the St. Helens fee structure (not just climbing but parking there) is bullshit and needs to be fixed.

 

Hey - I'm just giving you the facts straight from USFS folks who work in the program. We would not be charged for permits to public land if the land resource agencies actually were alloted a reasonable budget. You want less money going to the USFS, be prepared to pay as you go.

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I don't think it is JUST the Bush government that has pushed the user fees upon us. Clinton, too, was a supporter.

 

1999 Article: Clinton promoting Fee Demo

 

To be sure, though, the "starve the beast" in order to cut the size of "big government" and the overall push for privatization in a broad variety of areas of what many of us think should be public services IS more consistent with Republican talking points than Democratic ones.

 

Either way, I agree with you, KK: the whole thing sucks. There was no problem using public funds to build all those roads into the mountains when they were being developed for resource extraction but, now that logging is severely curtailed and there is little expectation that we're going to engage in a lot of mining activity, public monies are cut off. I'm all for fiscal responsibility and all, but public lands are important and the public should have free and easy access, as long as this is managed in a way that is consistent with good stewardship.

 

They just spent - how much? - building a new campground and they are upgrading the road into the middle fork so a private company can operate it and meanwhile they are gating all the roads in the area and places that you could previously camp and hike for free are off limits. :tdown:

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[

Hey - I'm just giving you the facts straight from USFS folks who work in the program. We would not be charged for permits to public land if the land resource agencies actually were alloted a reasonable budget. You want less money going to the USFS, be prepared to pay as you go.

 

Bullshit. Haven't the visitors centers had a *separate* parking fee since they opened? You know, your NW forest pass doesn't cut it, and neither does a NPS annual pass even with a "golden eagle" sticker or whatever the add-on is called these days. You pay yet another fee. And hasn't this been the case since long before W was in office? Haven't there always been separate climbing permits for MSH - predating the current administration?

 

As for the "you" in your statement about wanting less money going to the USFS - sorry, but *I* have never expressed any such preference. *I* want the NPS and USFS to be adequately funded to support normal operations of their facilities, including maintenance, repairs, etc. I expect upkeep of access and facilities. *I* don't expect some third party to take a slice of the permit cost and to be fleeced just to enjoy a hike up a friggin' snow slog. "Climbing" Mt saint helens is arguably less of an outing than hiking to Camp Muir, and I certainly don't get charged $22 a pop to do that (especially with my annual NPS card). Nice try with your tiresome pidgeon-holing.

 

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I don't think it is JUST the Bush government that has pushed the user fees upon us. Clinton, too, was a supporter.

 

1999 Article: Clinton promoting Fee Demo

 

To be sure, though, the "starve the beast" in order to cut the size of "big government" and the overall push for privatization in a broad variety of areas of what many of us think should be public services IS more consistent with Republican talking points than Democratic ones.

 

Either way, I agree with you, KK: the whole thing sucks. There was no problem using public funds to build all those roads into the mountains when they were being developed for resource extraction but, now that logging is severely curtailed and there is little expectation that we're going to engage in a lot of mining activity, public monies are cut off. I'm all for fiscal responsibility and all, but public lands are important and the public should have free and easy access, as long as this is managed in a way that is consistent with good stewardship.

 

They just spent - how much? - building a new campground and they are upgrading the road into the middle fork so a private company can operate it and meanwhile they are gating all the roads in the area and places that you could previously camp and hike for free are off limits. :tdown:

 

Just how much would it actually cost to adequately fund the NFS? A few hundred million? A couple billion? I'm sure it's chump change compared to the other line items in the federal budget.

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You can go research the budgets, I don't have the time, but here's what I know as fact. USFS Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie has consolidated their offices. The moved from Montlake to Everrett, have continued to cut biology staff, recreation folks, rangers, etc. And have been pushed, no forced, to contract work that that could be done more efficiently and cheaply in-house. Yes the fee system did start before the Bushies as noted by Matt, but the stripping of the natural resource agencies' budgets under the Bushies has no comparison.

 

It's just a bit ironic that when folks are complaining about bloated government agencies and then those agencies are pushed into increased user fees, the whinning begins.

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