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Mountaineering Fee Increases: Denali/Rainier

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Mountaineering Fee Increases: Denali/Rainier

Postby PaulGagner » Fri Sep 10, 2010 1:05 am

Letter from the American Alpine Club, Access Fund,and American Mountain Guides Association:


September 7, 2010


Jon Jarvis
Director, National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

E-mail: Jon_Jarvis@nps.gov


RE: Mountaineering Fees: Denali National Park & Preserve/Mount Rainier National Park


Dear Director Jarvis:

The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and American Mountain Guides Association recently became aware that Denali National Park & Preserve (Denali) intends, without public notice, to raise mountaineering fees 150% from $200 to $500 per climber. In addition, a steep increase for mountaineering fees (from $30 to $50 on top of camping fees) is proposed at Mount Rainier National Park (Rainier). In these tough economic times, these large fee increases will price Americans out of their own parks. We write today to protest these unnecessary and unfair mountaineering fee increases, and request information about National Park Service mountaineering programs and any associated budgeting and related costs to better understand the need to raise these already disproportionate recreation fees.

We are particularly troubled that these fee increases did not receive the benefit of public input and the National Park Service failed to even consult with its long-time partners at the Access Fund, American Alpine Club and American Mountain Guides Association. We request that any proposals to increase mountaineering fees at Denali or Rainier be analyzed through a range of alternatives and benefit from an open public process with published information about the need and purpose for an increased fee.

Access Fund, American Alpine Club and American Mountain Guides Association

The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and American Mountain Guides Association are national climbing advocacy organizations dedicated to climbing access, conservation, advancing the climbing way of life, and advocating for American climbers. These national climbing organization each have a long history of working with the National Park Service, including input on the 2006 revision to the NPS Management Policies, comment letters on hundreds of local management plans around the country, rescue cost-recovery and recreation impact studies, grants and many thousands of volunteer hours in support education and stewardship projects, field training and climbing management conferences, and congressional advocacy urging robust funding for National Park Service operations. We have also long worked collaboratively with the National Park Service and dozens of other national parks around the country on climbing management planning initiatives and stewardship projects. For more about us, see www.accessfund.org, www.americanalpineclub.org, and http://amga.com.

The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, American Mountain Guides Association are your best partners with respect to the education of mountaineers, public support for your management goals and programs, and the fulfillment of your obligation to provide unique mountaineering opportunities in the parks. However, these fee increases were proposed without input from the mountaineering community despite our expertise and affiliation with this specific user group (mountaineers). Denali’s plan to raise mountaineering fees from $200 to $500 reflects an unprecedented increase, is not based on need, and unfairly targets climbers. Moreover, simply raising fees 150% without public input during these tough economic times is shocking and is likely to result in lower numbers of Americans able to afford the unique mountaineering experiences found at Denali. This extraordinary mountaineering fee increase is a national issue and we believe that Denali managers may simply be unfairly shifting more of the burden of the park’s budget onto climbers. We’re also skeptical that the current fee level for mountaineering is warranted. Rainier’s fee increase appears similarly unjustified. We fear that these added costs will make the unique mountaineering opportunities available at Denali and Rainier too expensive for many Americans.

So we can better understand the National Park Service’s specific management challenges related to mountaineering (and thus inform our members and the public generally), we request your cooperation in providing us with as much information as possible related to mountaineering programs and any associated plans or programs at both Denali and Rainier. To that end, we request the following information from these two parks:

· Any costs, expenses, and budgeting documentation, correspondence or related information (including years) concerning the mountaineering programs (or other park operations affecting climbing management) at Denali and Rainier, specifically:
o Search and rescue and any emergency medical services
o Visitor use statistics (numbers, categories and attributes of park users)
o General park operations and law enforcement
o Interpretation
o Visitor and resource protection

· Any National Park Service records or correspondence related to the establishment and maintenance of the current mountaineering fee at Denali and Rainier national parks.

· Any National Park Service records or correspondence related to any proposals to increase the mountaineering fee at Denali and Rainier national parks.

· All public or individual notices provided by the National Park Service concerning the preparation of any management plans or policies that have any proposals or influence on recreation fees at Denali and Rainier national parks.

We will be filing a Freedom of Information Act request to both Denali and Rainier to obtain the information outlined above. If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact any of us at your convenience. We look forward to working with the National Park Service to preserve the world-class mountaineering opportunities found at Denali and Rainier national parks.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

Brady Robinson
Executive Director
The Access Fund
303-545-6772 x101
brady@accessfund.org


Phil Powers
Executive Director
American Alpine Club
303-384-0110 x12
ppowers@americanalpineclub.org


Betsy Novak
Executive Director
American Mountain Guides Association
303-271-0984 x101
betsy@amga.com

Cc:

The Honorable Patty Murray, US Senate

The Honorable Maria Cantwell, US Senate

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, US Senate

The Honorable Mark Begich, US Senate

The Honorable Don Young, US House of Representatives

The Honorable Dave Reichert, US House of Representatives

US Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee

US Senate National Parks Subcommittee

US House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee

US House of Representatives National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee

Will Shafroth, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, US Interior Department

Garry Oye, Chief of Wilderness Stewardship & Recreation Management, National Park Service

Rick Potts, Chief of Conservation & Outdoor Recreation Division, National Park Service

Paul Anderson, Superintendent, Denali National Park

Dave Uberuaga, Superintendent, Mount Rainier National Park

Mike Gauthier, Liaison to the National Park Service, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, US Interior Department
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Postby Snowslogger » Fri Sep 10, 2010 5:23 am

If I thought it was going for the Denali "Crapola" problem I'd likely be all for it, but most likely it will just disapear into a budgetary black hole.
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Postby etai101 » Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:11 am

FortMental wrote:Holy Crapola! $500? They must think everyone climbing in DNP is made out frikkin' money. But, there it is..... they got enough data showing that the average Denali climber will spend thousands on gear and preparation.... what's an additional $300 on top of the existing $200?



....and you though they were YOUR mountains. Hah!


thanks for summing that up i was really interested in knowing whats up in denali but lacked the fortitude to read that long post paul posted.

cheers
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Postby Bob Sihler » Fri Sep 10, 2010 2:26 pm

these large fee increases will price Americans out of their own parks


No, they will price a relative few out of two select peaks.

Other than that, I have no comment on this issue.

On second thought, I do have a comment: maybe this fee increase will mean SP gets flooded with fewer Rainier photos that everyone has already seen hundreds of times. And fewer trip reports about the same route on the same mountain, over and over again. :twisted:
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Postby The Chief » Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:17 pm

Bob Sihler wrote:No, they will price a relative few out of two select peaks.

... maybe this fee increase will mean SP gets flooded with fewer Rainier photos that everyone has already seen hundreds of times. And fewer trip reports about the same route on the same mountain, over and over again. :twisted:


Great Point Bob.... thanks.




BTW folks, the Rescue Costs throughout these Parks have in fact increased tenfold over the last ten or so years. People are going in droves thinking that anyone can do these two hills. More people getting their asses in dangerous situ's and requiring rescue. I guarantee ya that hills like Shasta, are next to be on the list... mark my words.

I do not believe that the U.S. Taxpayer should have to front the bill for peoples outlandish aspirations when they ultimately require rescue for their inexperience and lack of technical knowledge.


Besides, compared to Everest's 30K and many many other international climbing permit costs, these fees are peanuts. Remember, that in most other countries, if your ass needs rescuing, you pay the entire amount of those costs, outta your pockets. Not here in the U.S.

Also, most folks that get on both of these hills have already paid well over $1500.00 for a guiding service to haul their asses up the hill. Last count put that number at well over 78% of the folks that attempt either one of these hills, pay for a guiding service. No wonder two of the three OP's entities that are whining, are doing so.
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Postby simonov » Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:40 pm

The Chief makes excellent points. My reading of the newspapers these days also suggests another huge cost area: salaries and pensions (especially pensions) for public employees. These costs appear to be rising faster than anything else out there.
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Postby The Chief » Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:49 pm

redneck wrote:The Chief makes excellent points. My reading of the newspapers these days also suggests another huge cost area: salaries and pensions (especially pensions) for public employees. These costs appear to be rising faster than anything else out there.


The folks constantly putting their asses on the line doing ALL these rescues, deserve every penny of any pension they receive for sticking around and doing the dirty deed for over 20 years. Most are not NPS employees btw. Most get paid shit for their deeds.

Alaska Air Guard

Washington Air Guard

Clearly Redneck, folks as yourself would know this had they done so, first hand and not from reading those newspapers.

Edit: Additions.
Last edited by The Chief on Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby James_W » Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:51 pm

They should slap higher fees on the DC and WB
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Postby The Chief » Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:41 pm

FortMental wrote:Denali, and the other high peaks of the continental US are a cash cow. Agencies figure to milk them for everything they're worth.... punishment for wanting to get off our asses and getting into the hills.


Now that is definitely a stupidass comment.

Plenty, and I mean plenty of hills just as difficult if not more challenging, to access out there, that are FREE, within this country, to get off your asses, challenge oneself and to go enjoy.

But many if not most, do not as they are not on the social mountaineering club "Tick List".

Here is a prime example of one that lies right down the road from the social magnet of Denali and most, including your "Mental" ass, will not even contemplate getting on. Why? Cus it is a mtherfker and will definitely kick yur asses, entails experience and know how to even consider attempting...
Image

And this one up the road from the social magnet of Rainier that is just as difficult if not more challenging...
Image

But these and many many others, do not make for status jiber jabber talk during the Friday social evening cocktail hour at the local Country Club.
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Postby Bob Sihler » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:59 pm

FortMental wrote:Denali, and the other high peaks of the continental US are a cash cow. Agencies figure to milk them for everything they're worth. Doesn't matter how... parking fees, summit fees, camping fees, day fees, group fees, backcountry fees, picnic fees, whatever. It's not about managing lands for public good. It's about exploiting them for corporate profit and existential justification.

This fee increase is just a trial until the price point is found. Fees are also, in the most perverse sense possible, punishment for wanting to get off our asses and getting into the hills.


Gannett, Granite, Kings, and many other highpoints and popular peaks require no permits or fees. Most CO 14ers require none. If you can climb the Grand in a day and do it without a guide, there's no fee or permit, and the camping fee isn't much if you do overnight it. Most of Wyoming and Montana is free of any red tape at all.

It's mostly a handful of trophy peaks that see these fees and permits. To some degree, there may be expoitation of the masses involved, but I can't buy that it's all of it.
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Postby simonov » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:04 pm

The Chief wrote:Clearly Redneck, folks as yourself would know this had they done so, first hand and not from reading those newspapers.


It ain't the guys doing the rescues who are collecting the biggest pensions.
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Postby simonov » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:07 pm

I have never understood the outrage over access fees. People who think nothing of paying $10 to sit in a crowded cinema to watch a pretty mediocre film, or pay close to $100 for a single dinner for two in a restaurant, FREAK THE FUCK OUT when they are asked to pay $50 to spend three or four days in a wilderness.

Can't get my head around it.
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Postby kevin trieu » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:21 pm

$500! Yikes!

if you don't live in Talkeetna and don't have a buddy that's a bush pilot, that's $2,000 immediately out of your pocket just for transportation and permit cost to get on the glacier/basecamp. is this still America?

next time I'm heading up Denali i'm gonna start from Wonder Lake.
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