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Baucus, Crapo Introduce RAT Repeal

As promised in an April interview with NewWest.Net, U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) will introduce a bill on Monday to repeal the Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act (FLREA), called the Recreational Access Tax (RAT) by its many detractors. Joining him as co-sponsor will be U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), making the repeal a true bipartisan effort.

So, Monday morning could be panic time in the offices of the U.S. Forest Service (FS) and other federal agencies currently involved in aggressive fee policy and widespread closure of recreational sites on public lands.

 
  “Americans already pay to use their public lands on April 15. We shouldn’t be taxed twice.” — Senator Max Baucus

“It’s time for the RAT tax to go,” Baucus told NewWest.Net in announcing the upcoming legislation. “Americans already pay to use their public lands on April 15. We shouldn’t be taxed twice.”

Baucus also said, “I’ve crafted a common-sense piece of legislation that will nix this unfair fee system once and for all. Hopefully we can begin to resolve some of the controversies that have dogged communities across the West. Access to public land is a value Westerners hold dear. Families shouldn’t have to pay higher and higher fees to go hiking, camping, hunting or fishing.

“It’s that simple,” he said. “There’s a good reason people live out here. And that’s why I’m introducing this important legislation.”

Right now, the bill has no other co-sponsors, but typically, the main sponsors formally introduce the bill and then look for co-sponsors. It’s likely that other senators will join the effort for sane recreational fee policy on public lands.

The Baucus-Crapo bill is entitled, Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act of 2007. It will receive its number when introduced on Monday. A summary of the bill obtained by outlines its for major objectives:

  • Repeal the FLREA
  • Reinstate the fee authorities established by the Land and Water Conservation Act
  • Reinstate the National Parks Pass system
  • Cap the amount that can be charged for entrance to national parks.

As background, the Land and Water Conservation Act (LWCA) of 1965 limited the use of fees on public lands. The LWCA, allowed the National Park Service to charge limited entrance fees, but other federal land management agencies could only charge fees for developed recreation sites such as overnight campgrounds.

The legislation would essentially return us to the situation we enjoyed under the provisos of the LWCA. The public has never supported the current fee system and Congress has never voted on it. Instead, in 2004, FLREA was tacked onto a must-pass spending bill in the waning hours of the congressional session and became the law of the land. Since then, federal agencies, particularly the FS, have been aggressively raising existing fees and instituting new fees for enjoying the amenities of our public lands, even charging to drive through our national forests on state highways in some states.

Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, the main nonprofit group fighting RAT, has been in Washington, D.C. this past week working on this legislation. In a phone interview with NewWest.Net, she said she has found “tremendous support” from senators and representatives and their staffers for the Baucus-Crapo legislation, even though they haven’t even seen the bill. “They have no idea what the Forest Service is doing and has planned, and they are astonished when they hear it,” she claimed. “This bill is the most important thing we’ve done for our public lands in the last ten years, easily.”

Benzar and the late Robert Funkhouser, who has recently passed away while deep in his fight against the RAT, were the driving forces behind informing the public about the frequent abuses of the fee authority handed to federal agencies by FLREA. ‘Now, the whole issue is blowing up in their faces,” she said. “The Forest Service has even been using fee money to close recreation sites and campgrounds. It’s an ugly picture out on our public lands right now.”

Benzar also said she supported instituting an interim moratorium on recreation site closures while the legislation is being debated.

Footnote: NewWest.Net has extensively covered the recreational fee controversy. You can see all the articles by going to the Recreational Fee Chronology.

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15 comments

  1. Bill, put a word in Senator Baucus’ ear to merely transfer the ‘RAT’ tax to Cabela’s land sales, tax the incentive out of these deals, and use the proceeds for public access programs. ;^p

  2. I suspect Baucus and Crapos’ legislation will fail. Too much common sense for Washington.

  3. Although “I” hate paying taxes as much as the next person – come on, admit it – some taxes do good. The RAT was unpopular as any I’ve ever seen in my life, BUT after several years here in S.E. WY – the fee (of which 85% stayed in this area) provided for MUCH need capitol improvements, recreational rangers, law enforcement rangers – which we really neede with all the Illegal ATV’s/OHV’s and snowmobiles going any where they felt like – regaurdless of damage to land – and so forth.
    I don’t mind seeing a tax go – but what about the much needed aspects that it paid for? Will Congress provide a budget for the ares that need more money, because theyhave more problems or previous neglect?? I still support the fee – Local fees, by local people/users for local control!!
    Sorry to throw a fly in the ointment!!

  4. Baucus is aracist phoney who has ignored racism, bigotry and exploitation of illegal aliens and immigrants in Montana. His staff is full of rude holier than thou elitists.

    I was told that when he checks in to the hotel he stays at in Bozeman. His assistant demands immediate attention for the Seantor and has even cut ion fron of other people on live. His assistant saying “The Senator is ready to check in now:,

    I have brought many issues involving exploitation and racism in the national parks and it has been ignored by the Senator

    Sexual Harassment and Bigotry is alive and well on the left, center, etc, most

    Bigotry of all types is alive and working in the workplace

    By Donald Iarussi

    I have traveled across the USA and have worked for many companies and organizations both left, right and in the middle and I assure you that Bigotry, Racism, Anti Gay, Anti Female, anti Black, Anti Minority behavior is alive and well in the USA.

    From the offices of NY Life in NYC, Brooklyn College, Pearson Testing, The RR Express Baseball team, University of Texas Sports, Wyndham Franchises, Mitt Romneys Olymoc Office, A NY Congressman named Jerry Nadler, Various If not most High Schools, Bozeman Montana, West Yellowstone Montana, Xantarra Resorts to name a few placed where I saw blatent bigotry.

    Most wanna pretend it does not exist.

    Keywords: Bronx, Culture, Civil Rights,

    What they get is long hours, run down, sometimes bug, mouse infested housing. That most employees pay their employees rent. The Governors of Montana, Wyoming as well as newspapers like the Billings, bozeman and west Yellowstone media suppress any stories of racism, bigotry or exploitation of employees
    The names are mostly ethnic, the employees come from all over the USA and all over the world to work in and around Yellowstone National Park. Wages are sometimes as low as minimum wage, usually around $8 an hour.

    In the park Xanterra Runs most of the hotels and concessions and its mostly all white management staff ignores racism, anti semitism, older white male employees drinking and trying to seduce 18 year old female workers. In a Dorm called Pelican at lake hotel, drugs were being traded, porn films were being made, underage drinking was at epidemic proportions.

    Xanterra has successfully covered up its corruption and its exploitation of its workers. Outside the park in West Yellowstone, I lived in housing on hwy 20 that actually had swastika on the wall and other sick symbols. The white owned Christian managers and owners actually denied the symbols and threatened me with physical violene.

    In my next housing situation, I was promised $9.25 an hour but actually for the most part made $8.25. I was placed in housing that was filhy, delopodated with dozens of nails in the walls. The stove top was full of grease and the oven filthy. Yet, i was charged $150 cleaning depositit. In the area outside, I cleaned up over 100 beer cans and bottles and hundreds of cigarette butts. I also paid $300 rent that is taken out of my check

    Conditions are afr worse for many others who live in this substandard housing. There is no low cost medical in town, The restaurants and supermarket owners charge ridiculasly high prices for food and necessities.

    If employees are fired or quit thier job, even for medical reasons, they must leave their housing or the police will remove them. The Governors of Wyoming and Montana have actually sided with these slave driving, business lords and have refused to prosecute landlords or enforce OSHA regulations. ALso local congress and senate members are in the pockets of the rich business owners.

    Why the national media and our elected officials continue to ignore the attrocities in West Yellowstone Montana leads me to believe that corruption and wealth have bought out politicians and the media.

  5. I’ll just bet there are plenty of less “racist” country’s looking for professional axe-grinders to enlighten their serfs as to unhappy they should be…and for those choosing not to follow, they are obviously racist!

    As for the article, I strongly agree with both Senators and would hope for pasage, if only to prove taxes can be removed. Myself, I’ve no problem paying fees for my particlar usage (horse) but for some reason I resent seeing ad’s touting our Fish & Wildlife agencies. What’s their point?

  6. Wow – wouldn’t it be a wonderful Country/World “IF” we only paid the taxes that we support for the things we like or use or do??
    Why “I” only use 16 miles of Interstate – 80 ; why am “I” paying on the rest of that road in WY?
    I could give several dozen MORE ridiculous examples, BUT I know that “I” live in Wyoming, in the “UNITED” States of America and that alot of my taxes goes to “MANY” things I use/do and some of my taxes goes to things “I” DON’T use/do! Thus is the nature of the BEAST – Gov’t!!
    Again – “I’ve ” seen the advantages/good of this FEE. If you can garauntee the continuance of the Services without the FEE – I “could” possibly support that viewpoint!

  7. There are limits on how many times you should pay for the same amenity. I have no idea what all income taxes pay for, but that is where the USFS, et al, should be looking for their money. The US Treasury. Congress. Now that timber is not the golden egg laying goose that keeps recreation in money, the money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from all those people who send those form letters and forwarded emails to their Congressmen and Agencies to preserve the forests. Preservation is an overt act that costs money. Dig deep, people, and pay the piper. Advocating for preservation comes with a cost, and now that timber is not a payer and player, it is up to you to find the dough. Check your couches and under the seat of the car. You will find it somewhere.

    All the time I was buying USFS stumpage, we paid for the timber, we paid to maintain the roads we used, we paid into a rock replacement fund, we paid into a slash disposal fund, we paid into a reforestation fund. Those funds now have no money. Nor is there any money for recreation supervision and capital improvements.

    Without lookout towers, those having been replaced by computer lightening strike indicators and airplane over flights, there is no money in the fire budget to maintain the trails that serviced the lookout tower system. But I bet if there were some business or packer/outfitter camp or something private that earned money in the far reaches of the wilderness, the trails would be maintained by the permitee. But it is your forest, and your trees, as all of you have said so many times, and that kind of thing, private business, is unacceptable. So I would suggest that you either pay to play, or go maintain your trails, fight your fires, patrol your wilderness, yourself. If that is unreasonable, then pay the taxes it takes to get it done. Or accept what you have created, and shut up.

  8. Setting aside all the irrelevant comments and insults that have appeared in this space, which are unworthy of response, I do feel compelled to respond to Jay J about his opinion that fees have been a good thing in SE Wyoming, by which I presume he means the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.
    This forest was an early adopter of fees under the Fee Demo program, and still has a section of its website dedicated to the “Fee Demonstration” program, even though Fee Demo was repealed 3 years ago and replaced with the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. FLREA contains language, intended to protect public access, prohibiting fees for parking or for merely passing through forest service land, i.e. hiking/riding trails. Despite that language, MedBow-Routt continues to charge people to park at a trailhead and go for a hike. They have completely disregarded the increased requirements for fee areas that are in FLREA.
    The fee revenue they bring in illegally from citizens ignorant of the law is still not enough money for them. Due to fiscal constraints they are “decommissioning” (i.e. obliterating) 7 campgrounds, closing 8 campgrounds, and converting 8 developed recreation sites to dispersed use by removing “amenities” such as toilets, tables, water systems, trash cans, and fire rings. They are considering another 23 sites for similar treatment. In all, they are removing 35% of their developed recreation sites from the developed recreation program. In addition, they are reducing open seasons at 42 sites, increasing fees at 26 sites, instituting new fees at 6 sites, and turning 12 more sites over to private concessionaires or volunteers to manage.
    Jay, if you knew nothing of this, perhaps that’s because it is all being done without so much as a press release, never mind public meetings or public comment periods. It was all decided internally back in 2005 and approved by Forest Supervisor Mary Peterson in April 2006.
    Once completed, these changes are expected to result in a net annual profit from fees of $194,000. This same sort of thing is going on at every National Forest in the country, under a program called Recreation Facility Analysis (formerly Recreation Site Facility Management Planning). The relevant documents can now be found, albeit with more effort than should be required, on the MedBow-Routt website. They were posted there long after they were written, approved, and began to be implemented.
    The fee retention that Jay is a fan of is the root of the problem. When every local District Ranger is encouraged and expected to raise his or her own budget through user fees, a perverse incentive is created to overdevelop the more popular sites, and abandon the less popular ones. At the upper levels, the incentive is to starve the Districts of appropriated funding and divert it to other uses, chiefly administrative overhead.
    Over the past 10 years, appropriated funding to the Forest Service has substantially increased, even as local Districts have seen their budgets slashed. Our analysis shows that it now takes about $10 in appropriations to get $1 to the ground at a developed recreation site. That is not Congress’s doing, it’s happening within the agency.
    This conversion of our public lands from being a public service operated with public funding to being just another business run on a for-profit basis, benefiting only those able and willing to pay, has been accomplished over the past 10 years as earmarks on unrelated bills. It was never passed as stand-alone legislation and has never been debated or voted on in either the Senate or the House. If Jay and others think this change is a good thing, they should at least be willing to debate that position in an open public forum, not impose their policy unilaterally on the rest of us.
    The Baucus-Crapo bill will allow the Forest Service and BLM to charge a fee for use of developed campgrounds, swim sites, and boat launches, but the resulting revenue would be under the oversight of Congress, not directed straight into the District Ranger’s pocket. I know Congress is far from perfect, but they are the system we’ve got for implementing the will of the people, and cynicism doesn’t change that. Better to get involved and communicate with Congress frequently, and respectfully. They do listen.
    Under Baucus-Crapo, the Forest Service/BLM will no longer be able to charge for hiking/riding trails, dispersed undeveloped areas, parking, scenic drives, overlooks, toilets, or brief use of picnic tables. This bill will return ownership of our public lands to the people. I think that’s a good thing. If you disagree, I invite you to present your case in a thoughtful and polite way. I welcome the resulting dialog.

  9. It’s amazing to me to hear westerners supporting these fees? That’s a common attitude for folks from the East their land being consumed under private property laws, and then come out here and say what’s the big deal.
    The usual argument is look at the good it’s doing.
    The insiders who cut the Forest Service and Park Service funding back in the 80’s under reagan, to let those agencies struggle and go under came up with a great plan to destroy them.
    The issue is not better services on these lands, or even “double taxation” the issue is a Public Trust set aside by our ancestors of these lands for all of the people in the future, not just those who can afford it. The cost of maintaining these lands is likewise part of the public trust, that supoercedes commerce, or any myth of being self supporting.

    Here is a frightening example. In 1981 I did a private Grand Canyon trip and the park service fee for the whole trip was $25. We just finished another private river trip this fall on the Grand Canyon where six people hiked out and seven hiked in and the “fee” was $2,300 !!!! I’m not making those numbers up folks!
    Meanwhile 87% of the user days on the Colorado River are automatically handed over to for profit corporations who then turn around and auction them on places like E-Bay!
    WAKE UP YOU PEOPLE GOING ON THESE LANDS SAYING THE FEES ARE NOMINAL AND NEEDED, AND REALIZE THAT YOU ARE BEING SNOOKERED !
    You are taking your BIRTHRIGHT set aside by your fathers and allowing corporate shills and neo -con crazies to steal it under your nose, and your too dumb or lazy to even realize it!

    Jim Fuge
    Durango, Colorado

    PS- Do me a favor please,…Read the Organic Act which established our Public Lands, and their history before you try to defend your fees are ok positions.

  10. Miss Kitty…(I just love being able to say that…I watched too much Gunsmoke as a kid)…Festus here.

    Orginally, Congress set the revenue production system for the USFS in a way that 25% of the gross profit went to the county of origin, and the rest to the US Treasury. Their issue, at the time, was to take away 25% of the gross revenue, but keep it for the public good, that public being the county on which the revenue was produced. The 25% of gross revenue number was the amount that Congress thought would prevent USFS Admin from going “into business”, as their costs would make it a losing deal after the 25% of gross revenue was taken away.

    Now more than a century later, and lots of laws having been changed “for the better,” we now have the USFS “being in business.” They are running an amenity providing business, for the benefit of the agency and not the public. Does that surprise you? Has human nature changed in more than a century?

    I have added up the “extras” charged to stumpage on timber sales when I was a sawmill resource manager, and I was always astounded at the unreasonable surcharges. But, that was a way to keep money on the District. I can remember some timber sales (20 years ago) where the road use fee was more than the trucking cost. It was costing us over $5 per load of logs per mile to use the road, and then we were paying more for rock wear and replacement, all the while responsible for the road being in as good or better condition after the sale was logged than before we started logging. We paid all those deposits, and then had to buy replacement rock and grader and roller time to make it perfect so we could get our performance bond back and close the sale.

    Then there was the matter of reforestation. We paid a per thousand board feet of logs removed fee to a slash (read slush) disposal fund, as well as an amount into a fund for reforestation costs AND management costs (precommercial thinning and fuel reduction) that was to take care of those issues for 20 years after logging was complete. Then there was a cost for logs that were rotten and not suitable for lumber or veneer, and that cost was by the acre, and many times over $1000 per acre. I vaguely remember a sale where we were paying fees and costs to the USFS that were in excess of $3000 per acre. At the time, you could buy good site 2/3 doug fir, fully stocked, 10 year old trees for $2500 an acre, or just over a thousand per acre in big blocks from, say, International Paper.

    Being the mouthy kind of guy I am, I pointedly asked a deputy forest supervisor who got to steal the money and why was it so much. I had been burning slash at a cost of $100-130 per acre, helicopter ignition, and full mop up, and here I was paying over a thousand dollars an acre into a slash (slush!) fund at the USDA/USFS. Well, I was told, the cost at the unit might be $150 per acre, but then we have to figure in overhead at the district, forest, regional and Chief’s office in DC, and that is what makes the costs go up. So after the district added on 35% overhead, and the SO added theirs to compound the rate, it went up all the way to the Chief’s office, and to my surprise, I found out that we had overhead costs at Dept of Ag, USDA, that needed to be addressed. I figure that is how you get the $750 toilet seat and everything else costing a hundred times as much as it should. It is administrative overhead.

    So letting the Piss Fir Willies keep all the money at the district level is a fine way to stave off the leeches up the chain of command, but it also puts them “in business”, not providing a service to the public, but keeping themselves in jobs by earning the money it takes to stay afloat.

    Perhaps it is time to franchise the Ranger Districts. Sell Ranger District franchises. Let the franchisee set his or her own prices, and let the market bear what it can or find its own level. The Milo Minderbinder Business Plan for the USFS. It appears by some of the info coming out of Iraq, Milo has family in that area, and in our military…no kidding…

    I read the Captain Lucky Jack Aubrey novels, all 20 of them. That is how the 18th and 19th century British Admiralty ran their Navy: to the victor goes the spoils. Of course, there was that overhead that had to be paid to Commodores, Admirals, and Whitehall. The ship’s captain then got a quarter share, his officers shared a quarter share, and the ship’s company shared the remains. But if you were good at capturing merchant vessels of the enemy, or grand and salvageable warships, the ships compliment could do quite well for the times, and the Captain could become quite wealthy. Admirals and above all did well. Luck had something to do with it, and Lucky Jack was very lucky. In the future, I hope I never meet a District Ranger named Lucky Linda or some similar name. Although the FS, RF, and Chief would all think that a grand deal, and would keep Lucky Linda hard at her game.

    The Congresses of the 19th century were prescient and now we are seeing the reason for their fears. The public good is out the window, and agency good is driving the bus. Keep this up, and there will be a greatly expanded timber program. And it will be USFS palaces, SUVs, more USFS only retreats in the wilderness and along wild and scenic rivers. They are only human, and they want to live like environmental NGO management, high on the hog, and comfortable and more after early retirement.

  11. Jim Fuge, thank you for your insightful comments and for that example at Grand Canyon. I was brought up in Phoenix as a backpacker’s brat, have hiked the Canyon hundreds of times and been lucky enough to do several river trips as crew on commercial boats. The Canyon is a mystical, spiritual place for me. Now they are selling backcountry hiking permits for $15 plus $5 per night per person, and that’s after you pay your $25 entrance fee. For me, this is the equivalent of moneychangers in the Temple. Because I won’t abet such a scheme, I have not hiked the Canyon for the 10 years the backcountry fees have been in place, and for me this like losing a loved one. Although the Baucus-Crapo bill retains entrance fees for National Parks, it does take away authority for backcountry fees, interpretive program fees, and other extra, layered fees. Mind you, I have no trouble with backcountry PERMITS or river PERMITS in a place like Grand Canyon where demand is such that use must be limited to protect the land. There has been a free but required permit system there since the 1970s, with which I always complied. It’s putting a dollar amount on access that I object to. Especially where use must be limited, it is wrong and undemocratic (small “d”) to use ability to pay as the deciding factor.

    Bearbait, I tried a Jack Aubrey book once but found it heavy going and I’m afraid I never finished it. I did see the movie Master and Commander and enjoyed that very much. Your explanation of how the English fleet was operated is apt, as is your Milo Minderbinder analogy. (I did get all the way through Catch-22.) I’m glad to see that at least some people out there “get it” about what’s wrong with local retention of fees. The FS and BLM always tout this as a prime benefit of fees, but I see it as the principal problem, for all the reasons you described. Their usual argument of “look at all the great things we do with the money!” reminds me of a mugger who thinks it’s ok to rob people in dark alleys because he gives half of the gross to the United Way.
    That said, the administrative overhead in the land management agencies is a scandal and an abuse. Congress has been frustrated by this for many years, and in fact one reason some of them supported Fee Demo initially was because they had been unable to get money to the ground for backlogged maintenance, no matter how much appropriated funding they provided. Now the agencies have had fee authority for 10 years but the backlogged maintenance problem is worse than ever, and they are closing sites and removing facilities that they say they can’t afford, even though more than half of all FS units have “unobligated” fee accounts that contain more than a year’s worth of revenue (see GAO 06-1016).
    Meanwhile, visitation is down 25.7% on National Forests and falling for all agencies. Because FS managers seem to have an almost childlike inability to understand basic business principles, they react to declining visitation (and thus declining revenue) by raising the fees, which results in further visitation declines, which means further revenue declines, and on and on, in a financial death spiral from which there is no escape.

  12. Kitty B. (and several others) – I am VERY,VERY familar with the situation in the Med Bow/Routt Nt’l Forest and how their Budget from Wash. DC has been CUT for the past 5 years and they have been FORCED to take these drastic actions toward their lowest use facilities!! I wish it wasn’t so, but it IS and I see the CATCH -22 of the FEE to the cost, useage and so forth. That figure you quoted – ISN’T profit, it is operational costs that barley cover what they need to operate what is used at a HIGHER level. And the FEE’s could be ALOT higher if looked at in PURELY economic senes nad worth; so they TRY to keep them down as much as possible – BUT that never satisfys some folks!!
    Again – the money that goes to the Local Office is being used as effectively as possible – NOT perfectly – but better than MOST. The rest of the money going to Wash DC is being abused with “studies” and “programs” that force Dis’t to subtract from their facilities – Orders are from Higher UP! And This WAS kept secret for quite awhile – “I KNOW””.
    YES – the Golden Goose of logging is dead to some/ and in some areas – so if “WE” want or need any of these facilities/amenities:toilets, trails maintained and more – the “WE” the locals can pay for it and have a greater say in it!
    Again – the system and the manging agency is FAR from Perfect; but let me see YOU juggle ALL the interests that use these lands!!

  13. My logic says that the NGOs who so well represent the “people” are not out there suing to maintain developed recreation, and probably because they are against that, as well as being against logging. The no logging argument was always advanced with the idea that there were many other uses and products the forest could produce on a sustainable basis, recreation high on the list, but those have not shown to be revenue producers that might keep the USFS developed recreation assets open. I feel the Sierra Club, et al, has lied to the “people” they claim to represent in the matter as an act of omission. They just don’t talk about it. Bigger fish to fry. More lawsuits to file to stop logging the fuels that burn homes. So they don’t talk about recreation.

    I am talking about it. If they have the power to influence elections and drive out established economies, they sure as hell ought to be able influence the congressional budget process enough to keep more than the status quo on developed recreation. And I say developed, because the alternative is free -for- all use and that is not good for the forest or what people want in these times.

    It would appear to me that it would be in the Greenie’s best interests and the interests of their contributors to lean hard on Congress for a full budget for USFS/BLM recreation, as promised by the Greenies in their rout of timber interests.

    I doubt if anything like that will happen, now, because it is becoming apparent their NGO partners and the Greenie movement is all a titter about letting drought driven wildfire consume the resource. And I doubt if the public really wants to go camping in a snag patch for the weekend, and then go home and wash the charcoal stains out of the kids clothing. If you can get there for the blowdown across the road, and the vault toilets are still standing.

  14. Here’s the kicker, if the bill doesn’t provide for operating and maintaining campgrounds, there will be no small ones and all of the large ones will be run by concessionaires. Under the Land Water and Conservation Act, all fees at these sites are collected and returned to the general treasury. Under FLREA, 95% of fees are returned to the sites. Under LWCA, the monies is returned through Washington, Back to the trickle down theory and the funds are always short and rarely hit the ground, like verga. As it is, it is a struggle for the Forest Service to pump toilets or clean them at sites where no fee is charged. In a day and age where the agency is cutting recreation positions, combining offices and reorgainizing to deal with declining budgets, this may signal the death toll for the recreation program as we know it. Over the past few years FLREA funds have been used to operate, maintain and deal with a huge backlog of deferred maintenance issues that accumulated under the former system. Reverting back to the old system is reverting back to the dying recreation program in the agency.

  15. Thank YOU Maury – that is excatly what happened here in WY at the Medicine Bow/Routt Nt’l Forest! There was an attempt at PRIVATE business running some of the campgrounds and it was a DISASTER!! Too bad that some of the facilities have to be phased out and/or closed down, but there is only so much $$$$$ to go around – even with the fees.
    As I mentioned previously; as much as I hate this “Double Taxation” it is that in appearance only – to some- but to those of us that frequent this area, it is local support for the facilities and activities that we use ALOT!! Money that goes from “my” pocket to Wash DC – rarely EVER gets back to my area!!
    It ISN’T perfect, but it works better than before!