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FEE COMING TO SOUTH COLONY TRAIL

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Postby Kane » Fri May 14, 2010 2:33 am

I thought they were going to close the road at the 2.6 mile mark and charge hiking access from there, is this correct?
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Postby mconnell » Fri May 14, 2010 8:17 pm

Aaron Johnson wrote:ARTICLE: DAYS OF FREE FOURTEENER CLIMBING MAY BE ENDING

"This may be precedent setting..."

Colorado Springs Gazette

NATIONAL FOREST COMMENT FORM HERE


Thanks, Aaron. Comment sent.

My comment was basically that a free permit system with a quota would limit the number of people entering the area, and allow the land to recover naturally. The current proposal doesn't limit the number of people, making it seem like more of a money making scheme than an attempt to preserve the area.
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Postby Aaron Johnson » Fri May 14, 2010 11:25 pm

mconnell:
...making it seem like more of a money making scheme than an attempt to preserve the area.


Precisely. And what a great excuse to put up a fee booth, too! The FS is taking advantage of the public's apathy and indifference on this matter and others all over the nation, where ever they can.
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Not Such a Bad Idea

Postby autoblock » Wed May 19, 2010 4:10 pm

Rainier -- $30 Shasta -- $20 Every other Sierra 14er -- $15. Culebra -- $100!

Colorado's other 14ers -- $0. And they show it!

Since I finished my CO 14ers, I've been bagging California's. What a different experience! Last July on Tyndall and Split I had the whole mountain to myself for each entire summit day, hiking through utterly pristine terrain. Paying a fee and getting a permit is a small price to pay to keep the mountains like that forever.

Maybe the FS is thinking that the fee, together with the new road closure, will mostly cut back on the yahoos driving their SUVs to watch satellite TV at Colony Lakes, giving climbers a far better experience. (And wouldn't it be nice if the Lake Como approach to the Blanca group weren't clogged with 4-wheelers?)

I assume that the FS doesn't have the budget to implement an expensive (to them) free permit system. Services cost money, and in our society many services require user fees.

Everyone on this string seems to be self-righteously demanding new, free services from the government. The money has to come from somewhere, folks. Does everyone really think the average taxpayer is MORE inclined to foot the bill for these services than the users themselves? In Colorado?????? Take a visit to my hometown, Colorado Springs. They're trying to get businesses to pay for streetlights!

I was happy to pay $125 to climb Denali -- I felt like I really got my money's worth! And if a future climber has a $20 tag on that traverse from the Needle to the Peak, it'll be worth it too.
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Postby Clark_Griswold » Wed May 19, 2010 6:04 pm

Closing and locking the gate should cost what, 4 man hours of someone driving up from the FS office in the Autumn? Not opening that gate in Spring and thereby requiring climbers (Ellingwood Arete, ETC), hikers (Humboldt) and scramblers (Crestone Peak and Needle normal routes) to hike in on the road and carry everything with them, should cost the FS absolutely nothing. The trail rebuilding was done by volunteer parties, right? Zero cost to the FS, right? What is the justification of a fee, other than to generate revenue for other things?

In Sedona, AZ, there exists a Red Rocks Pass. It is something you might be familiar with. This pass is $5 a day, or $10 for a week, or $20 a year. It is run by a private for profit company which has a contract with the Coconino NF to sell and police the pass system. The FS publishes what it does with the revenue from the pass proceeds, or it did few years back. According to the FS's own reports, almost 50% of pass revenue went towards administrative costs. So half of what you pay went towards profits for the company, and then paying a private person (not a FS employee) to drive around and make sure vehicles parked a trail heads have a pass displayed.

The money from the passes is supposed to be for trail maintenance and building. They do some of that, sure, but I can tell you that unless you want to do the same sissy tourist trails around Bell Rock, or Doe Mountain over and over again, you will come to poorly maintained trails that have seen no maintenance in years. Years! What does the FS do with the money that they should be spending on trail maintenance and obviously are not? Well, according to the signs posted by the FS at several popular trail heads, they bought the City/Town of Sedona a nice new shiny fire engine! Oh Boy! So, while you are buying your pass to park at a trail head that you think is going to fund trail maintenance, and it isn't, you are really buying something for local residents that they should be buying for themselves through their taxes, or at least through hotel room taxes that are for general city use. Sedona is not a poor town, it has become a mecca for second homes for wealthy folks over compensating for their inadequacies buy building McMansions in the interface around town, so it isn't like they desperately need money to fund their local services.

The FS did just build a brand new visitor center south of Sedona on AZ 179. Maybe that had pass funds involved? As a local, I never go there, so I don't see any benefit from it. Now , there is one solution which has been suggested. If I buy a Federal Parks Pass I can use it in Red Rocks Country and they don't get a dime from me. Also, it is good in the Grand Canyon and other NPs, even if I don't normally go to them. Oh, and I can go to the visitor center to have the Parks Pass inspected and be issued a Red Rocks slip to go with it.
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Re: Not Such a Bad Idea

Postby mconnell » Wed May 19, 2010 6:36 pm

autoblock wrote:Rainier -- $30 Shasta -- $20 Every other Sierra 14er -- $15. Culebra -- $100!


Shasta was the only peak in Ca that I remember paying for a permit for. I know I didn't pay for one for Whitney (and had it issued in Bishop, which you "can't do"). You don't need permits for all of the peaks, and I believe the $15 is a reservation fee, not a permit fee.

There really isn't any comparison between the fee program they are talking about here and the other systems you mentioned. The Whitney system, for example, is to limit traffic on an overused peak. Here, there is no limit just a high fee. On Denali, the fee covers the cost of rangers, medical personnel, etc. Here, the fee covers the cost of hiring people to collect the fees.
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Re: Not Such a Bad Idea

Postby seano » Wed May 19, 2010 7:04 pm

autoblock wrote:Since I finished my CO 14ers, I've been bagging California's. What a different experience! Last July on Tyndall and Split I had the whole mountain to myself for each entire summit day, hiking through utterly pristine terrain. Paying a fee and getting a permit is a small price to pay to keep the mountains like that forever.

The solitude on Sierra 14ers has nothing to do with a fee (there isn't one). Part of it is cultural -- 14er bagging is almost a sport in CO -- but mostly it's about difficulty. Most CO 14ers are moderate-length hikes with less than 4k vertical, while most Sierra 14ers are class 3+ scrambles with 5k+ vertical.
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Postby Grant » Sat May 22, 2010 8:32 am

booooo.....
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Postby Aaron Johnson » Sun May 23, 2010 6:08 pm

grant:
booooo.....

Grant! Nice to hear from you. Thanks for your support! :D
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Postby Aaron Johnson » Sun May 23, 2010 6:24 pm

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE WESTERN SLOPE NO FEE COALITION WEB SITE:
THE FS stands to make a ton of money off of this new fee scam with next to no investment.

The Pike-San Isabel National Forest is proposing to charge daily and overnight general access fees at South Colony Basin in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. South Colony is the main route for climbers hoping to summit four of Colorado's fabled "fourteeners." About 80% of visitors to South Colony are there to climb one or more of the peaks, so this amounts to a "Fourteeners Fee." If it succeeds, there will soon be access fees to many more - maybe all - of Colorado's 53 peaks above 14,000 feet.

Climbing these peaks is a very popular activity. Because South Colony Basin offers access to four of them it gets a lot of visitors - as many as 4,500 per season. It's unquestionably true that such high visitation in a fragile alpine environment results in resource impacts and damage.

However it's also unquestionably true that the people who use the area have stepped up to the plate to restore and protect it. There have been at least 40,000 volunteer hours and $1 million in mostly
non-federal money invested in South Colony Basin. The Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Colorado Outward Bound, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, and other educational and environmental service organizations have contributed funding and labor. Thanks to them, the summit trails have been rebuilt, trailhead facilities and the access road have been improved, and long-term recreational impacts have been repaired.

In addition, Forest managers have taken sensible steps to protect the area and mitigate human impacts. They have banned campfires, limited camping to designated sites, moved the trailhead downhill 2.5 miles, and this summer will be implementing a voluntary program of packing out human waste in "WAG Bags." These are all reasonable restrictions and most climbers will be willing to comply with them.

By proposing to charge daily and overnight general access fees, however, the Forest has gone a step too far. This is an attempt to reduce visitation by sorting people into those who will pay and those who won't. It is an affront to the American tradition of public lands where everyone has access and is welcome.

Pike-San Isabel managers have stated that installing a system of limited permits to control visitation should be a "last resort." We disagree. Such systems, so long as the rules for getting a permit are fair and equal, are a reasonable way to ensure that visitation does not exceed the carrying capacity of the land. If the measures already taken to mitigate human impacts don't prevent unacceptable resource damage, then a system of limited, but free, permits should be used.

This is a complicated issue, and one on which reasonable people can disagree. The fee cannot go forward unless the Forest can show the Colorado Recreation Resource Advisory Committee that it has general public support. So no matter whether you support or oppose this fee proposal, it's important to officially comment on it. Comments can be submitted at least through this summer.


The above (highlighted in red) is verified by THIS DOCUMENT obtained by WSNF and available as a docx document, a type of file lots of folk's computers conveniently cannot open.

According to WSNF, in an email from the FS, a plan to spend $275 a day (admittedly an estimate by the FS) to have someone patrolling the area for compliance is the expenditure/investment the FS has in mind.

If this cash cow passes, all of Colorado's 14ers, and perhaps other popular Colorado mountains will cost YOU money to climb, that previously those before climbed for free.

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What's in YOUR wallet?
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