Petition To Change Back To Pre-Covid Walk-in Permit System

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
no avatar
Maverick02

 
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:21 am
Thanked: 7 times in 5 posts

Petition To Change Back To Pre-Covid Walk-in Permit System

by Maverick02 » Mon Feb 15, 2021 7:20 pm

Please sign, the more signatures we get, the better chance we have to get these agencies to consider our request! Thank you!

http://chng.it/NcyLzS2yGS

User Avatar
bobpickering

 
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2002 1:06 pm
Thanked: 54 times in 28 posts

Re: Petition To Change Back To Pre-Covid Walk-in Permit Syst

by bobpickering » Wed Feb 17, 2021 7:32 am

Sorry, but I have to oppose this petition.

As it stands now, I can make all my reservations online. If I need a last-minute permit, I may or may not score one online. If I can’t get the trailhead I want, I can get something else, do a dayhike, or stay home. The important point is that my wife and my partners and I all know what I’m going to do, in advance, before I leave the house.

With the old walk-up system, I had to organize all my stuff, load it into the car, and drive a minimum of three hours to stand in line and hope I got the permit I wanted. If I got no permit, I was screwed. If I settled for a different permit, I had to contact my wife and climbing partners to let them know of the change of plans. That isn’t easy, since Lee Vining is the closest permit station to Reno, and my carrier has zero cell coverage there. Even if I got my first choice permit at 11:00 AM, I would have to waste the rest of the day doing nothing more than driving to the trailhead. I’m retired, but a working stiff would have to take an entire day off, just to pick up the permit at 11:00 AM.

As the petition says, “The enjoyment of our wilderness areas should not be made more difficult”. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what returning to in-person walk-up permits would do.

The following user would like to thank bobpickering for this post
cab, freakyclimber, Romain

User Avatar
Romain

 
Posts: 791
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2001 5:11 pm
Thanked: 34 times in 20 posts

Re: Petition To Change Back To Pre-Covid Walk-in Permit Syst

by Romain » Thu Feb 18, 2021 5:59 am

I agree with Bob here. I rather like the new system. Under the old system one wasted a whole morning. In Mammoth for instance, you had to get on a list at 8 am for a next day entry and the permit would be delivered at 11 am. This was a needless 3 hour wait. The new system is much more seamless. Maybe they should open reservations one week before planned entry, rather than two weeks, as a sort of compromise.

However they should rescind the internet delivery of the permit proper as soon as practical. It is important for people to go to the ranger station and talk to a ranger before entering the backcountry, especially the inexperienced.

While I see the perspective of those who would write “The enjoyment of our wilderness areas should not be made more difficult”, I can also see a different perspective. In COVID times the backcountry has become very crowded, which had an impact on the wilderness experience and carries a significant environmental load. The enjoyment of our wilderness areas is already made difficult through quotas, limited access infrastructure, and fees. This is a good thing, but the trick is to find the proper balance between access and preservation. I am not sure we have struck the right balance, and the small barrier inherent in asking people to plan 1 or 2 weeks ahead and get a reservation through the internet does not strike me as excessive.

no avatar
Maverick02

 
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:21 am
Thanked: 7 times in 5 posts

Re: Petition To Change Back To Pre-Covid Walk-in Permit Syst

by Maverick02 » Thu Feb 18, 2021 9:01 pm

Romian and Bob,

This system does not work for many folks I know personally. They, as myself, cannot make a reservations ahead of time, we don't have the luxury to plan that far in advance, some have kids or jobs that make it a last minute decision, and others trips are weather/backcountry conditions/wildfire dependent.

For the people who the reservation system works and can plan 6 months out, great, but those unable to secure a wilderness permit 6 months in advance because of the difficulties in the system now, will then have a second opportunity again, when the so-called "walk-in" permits go online 2 weeks prior to the date, giving that group, a second chance to secure a wilderness permit, which will make getting a so-called "walk-in" permit impossible.

Maybe they can release the cancelled permits a week or two before, but keep the thru walk-in permits.

This newer system benefits the folks who can plan their trips online and ahead of time, and completely disregards a whole other group who have been using the walk-in system for decades, both of our tax dollars are used in funding these agencies, it shouldn't be an exclusionary system.

User Avatar
bobpickering

 
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2002 1:06 pm
Thanked: 54 times in 28 posts

Re: Petition To Change Back To Pre-Covid Walk-in Permit Syst

by bobpickering » Sun Feb 21, 2021 12:19 am

This thread began with Maverick02 asking us to support a petition to the Forest Service. He wants them to reinstate a system in which 40% of permits were only issued in-person, as walk-up permits. Those permits were not available online. This is an exclusionary system, despite Maverick02 saying, “it shouldn't be an exclusionary system.”

I oppose the petition. Any permit that is available as a walk-up should also be available simultaneously online. I will say more about the petition below, but first, I want to discuss a few issues that aren’t about to the petition.

There are 40 million people in California alone. The capacity of the wilderness is limited. Unfortunately, the days of writing our own permits at will are long gone. Until recently, we had to deal with an insane patchwork of permitting systems. We had to apply online, by snail mail, email, or by fax, depending on who issued the permit. Application dates and procedures were all over the place. A few years ago, I wanted to enter SEKI from a USFS trailhead. SEKI insisted that I had to have a permit, and the USFS didn’t require permits for that trailhead, so they refused to issue one. Getting that straightened out was a major cluster! Fortunately, more and more agencies are switching to Recreation.gov. Recreation.gov is far from perfect, but it’s more consistent, and it usually works pretty well.

Some people reserve permits, don’t use them, and then never cancel their reservations. Yes, this is a problem. Yes, a financial incentive to cancel unused permits might help. Nothing short of banning all reservations will eliminate the problem. Maybe they could adjust the quotas to reflect the fact that some people don’t use their permits, and maybe they have already done this. They aren’t going to ban reservations, so this issue should have no bearing on the petition.

Most popular trails have quotas in the summer. There are no quotas in the winter. Last summer, I needed a permit for an unpopular non-quota trail in Humboldt-Toiyabe NF during quota season. They close their self-issue station during quota season, and there was no way to reserve my permit online. It took several weeks of emails and phone tag to get my permit, and they charged me fifteen bucks for what should have been a free self-issue permit. I think we can all agree that permits for a trail with no quota should be as easy to obtain as possible. That means at least online and walk-up. Self-issue after hours would be nice, but that might not work, because some people would try to write self-issue permits for quota trails.

Reservations are a necessity. My friend, Gary, lives in Atlanta. My friend, Sabrina, lives in England. They both love to hike and climb in the Sierra. Planning a trip to the Sierra requires, you guessed it, planning. It involves plane tickets, a rental car, probably hotel and/or campground reservations, and wilderness permits. Many wilderness permits and campground reservations are available six months in advance. Six months is fine with me, but I wouldn’t mind something shorter.

In the early days of the quota system, holding back 40% of the permits for walk-up may have made sense. We didn’t all have internet access at home and a smart phone in our pocket or purse. It took much longer to reserve and obtain a permit before we had recreation.gov. In those days, the only viable choices were advance reservations and walk-up.

However, walk-up permits have serious problems. If you want a permit for a quota trail, you have to be standing in line at the permit station at 11:00 AM the day before your entry date. If you’re not a local, that means you have to miss an entire day of work, just to get your permit. If you don’t get your permit, you are screwed! Now that we can reserve permits online, there is no excuse for not allowing everyone to book ALL permits online. Everyone on this thread obviously has internet access and knows how to use it. If you can’t figure out recreation.gov, or if you just prefer to talk to a ranger in person, go ahead and do the walk-up.

The COVID-19 pandemic required some big changes. We quit doing anything, including issuing permits, in person. They made the old “40% walk-up” permits available online two weeks in advance. This was a big improvement over the old system. We didn’t have to pack our stuff and drive several hours, only to find out that somebody beat us to our coveted trailhead. We could know for sure, before packing our gear and driving for several hours, that we had our permits. This is a reasonable compromise for those that can’t or don’t want to plan six months in advance. BTW, two weeks wasn’t my idea, and I think one week is also reasonable.

If, after actually reading this, you still think we should go back to the exclusionary 40% walk-up only system, I have this suggestion: Ask the NFL to reserve a big block of Superbowl tickets for people who drive to the stadium on Superbowl Sunday and want to buy a ticket.

On Whitney Zone, Maverick02 posted, "I don't have much trust in the online system, especially if all the people who were unable to reserve permits the first time, will all be now in the biding (sic) for the same so-called walk-ins."

Maverick02’s intentions are clear. He wants to exclude people who apply for permits six months in advance from applying for the 40% he wants to reserve for walk-up only. This petition is a bad idea. Please don’t support it.

The following user would like to thank bobpickering for this post
Romain

User Avatar
sierraman

 
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:40 am
Thanked: 26 times in 22 posts

Re: Petition To Change Back To Pre-Covid Walk-in Permit Syst

by sierraman » Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:49 am

I also will not be signing the petition.
When I began my backpacking carrier as a teenager in 1967 there were no permits.
The biggest problem then was large church, school and boy scout groups, sometimes 100 strong, who could overwhelm whatever lake or meadow they camped at.
When the permit system was implemented, around 1970, large groups were thankfully prohibited.
Prior to the permit system there were registers located at most trailheads. You signed in and out. Those registers were tremendously informative and had up to the minute information on trail conditions and who was camping where.
Since then the wilderness permit system has gone through more variations than I can recollect.
Over the past 50 years I have obtained permits in every way imaginable. But what I have always disliked is having to drive many miles out of my way to pick up a piece of paper. Years ago they would send you a permit in the mail and you were good to go. I support an internet based self permitting system and look forward to avoiding inconvenient travel to out of the way ranger stations in order to make my backpacking trip federally approved.

User Avatar
David Senesac

 
Posts: 290
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2004 3:51 pm
Thanked: 25 times in 12 posts

Re: Petition To Change Back To Pre-Covid Walk-in Permit Syst

by David Senesac » Sat Feb 27, 2021 5:41 pm

Disagree with Bob's well posed assessment that reads more like 8-5 m-f working people always arriving late on busy ranger station Friday or Saturday mornings. Who are really for this permit? A whole lot of younger people that are just mobbing the thru trails. Even the last few years midweek, people have been able to receive walk up permits for ANY trailheads the day before. A whole lot of we hardcore enthusiasts. Now those will go to people pounding buttons on special Internet apps like those used to secure popular music concert tickets the second the 2 week period starts. Many of which will only use a few permits they receive then not bother to ever cancel since there is no incentive. Note unlike this thread provides a picture of, on other boards the majority of Sierra Nevada backpackers are in favor of signing the petition. I've been backpacking 5 decades with over 200 backpacking trips so have seen it all.

Strongly support any genuine backpackers signing the petition as is. Although it is less than ideal overall, it is a pragmatic balanced compromise that would remove the worst issue that those non-backpackers that changed the pre-pandemic process apparently had few inputs from more experienced backpackers in making. Instead they just considered what some influential new generation thru hiking enthusiasts wanted, carving up ever more quota permit territory from our older backpacker world. And then used weak pandemic reasons for arguments. Two weeks destroys short term planning important for climbers, hikers, photographers, backpackers, kayakers, peak-baggers, fishermen, avoiding foul stormy weather, windy weather, smoky skies, etc etc and is susceptible to highly manipulated Internet abuse.


Return to California

 


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests