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Thread: WMNF Parking Fee Increase Proposal Jan 30,2017 Comment Deadline

  1. #16
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    It's no surprise to me, although I am surprised it took them this long to raise the fee. In discussions about the pass before it's inception, my comment was, yeah 25 bucks may seem ok, but it will cost more down the road. I'm kind of ambivalent about it now. I've bought 2 or 3, some years my pass is way over do. I'm just not seeing much difference since it's inception, besides more rangers to patrol the area. I will say this, if some of the money goes to fighting forest fires, that would make me feel better. I've seen homes destroyed by wildfires and I would be glad to help with those efforts, even if it's in other states.

  2. #17
    Senior Member Remix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    Remix,

    WRT the overall funding of national parks and forests, the links below provide interesting reading from both sides of the political spectrum:

    Here’s Where Our National Park Funding Comes From -- Outside Mag

    We need new ways to fund our national parks -- The Hill

    Americans Value National Parks, but Funding Is Lacking -- US News

    National parks face severe funding crunch -- Washington Post

    cb

    I read through the cited articles and saw many opinions, generally reflecting that the amount requested by the agency was more than the amount granted to the agency. Thus there is an opinion that the agency is underfunded. I did not see any source propose efficiency improvements, or question how the existing funding is allocated.

    On the other hand, anyone can find economic data that shows that real wages for most Americans stopped growing in the 2000's, and that health care costs have skyrocketed.

    Lets not go into the fog any further.

    Here is a concrete example: California state parks have (or are) being underfunded. There is no room for opinion. The reason is that the facilities were closed, some with no planned re-opening. See http://www.reopenmitchellcaverns.org/

    The same thing happened when parks were closed for government shutdowns--it was obvious that there was no money.

    So, with regard to the 60% parking pass increase:
    Anything in the WMNF on the verge of being closed?
    Are there any facilities which have to be closed due to infrastructure problems?
    Are there any critical services which must be cut due to funding problems?
    Is USDA going to stop paying New Hampshire towns Payments-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes?

    Again, if something is going to be shut down or something needs critical funding, perhaps I missed it. By all means, make it known. Or, in light of a 60% increase in fees, what goods or services are going to be improved as a result of the increase?


    With regard to fire fighting, I cannot imagine that any agency would allow a fire to continue to burn because there is a lack of funding. Typically equipment is shifted nation-wide, private contractors are hired, and emergency appropriations balance the books.

    As an aside, I believe that all Canadian park entry fees (not usage fees like campgrounds or backcountry permits) are being waived this year.
    Last edited by Remix; 01-07-2017 at 06:22 PM.

  3. #18
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    The USDA has not been paying full PILT payments to towns for many years. They work up a value based on a formula and then hand the towns some lesser percentage as they were not supplied the funding to fund the full amount.

    There was no talk about not funding the forest fires, the issue is that they funded them by cutting the approved budgets of all the forests. Unfortunately with gridlock in congress I expect any emergency appropriations are delayed and in the end I doubt the funds are routed back the forests they were raided from. Unlike the National Parks that have lobbying organization ( National Parks Conservation Association) that serves to funnel private money to the parks around the budgeting process, there is no equivalent organization for the NFs. With the big push for transfer of federal lands to the states (and ultimately to private control) I expect the BLM and FS lands will get the majority of the impact over the National Parks.

    Critical services will get funded, what goes are the non critical services. An example was that the FS had gotten funding to install radio repeaters on Carrigan and Cabot two years ago, they were pushed through the permitting process as they were required for safety, they didn't get installed. I do not know if the funding raid delayed this project but this might be good example, the repeaters were to cover weak/non existent radio reception in parts of the WMNF, they have lived without them for years but at some point the lack of this coverage could become critical if someone gets in trouble in those areas. I expect lack of funding is also in the background on decisions not to repair infrastructure like the bridge in the Pemi a few years ago, the bridge in the Wild River area this year and the Thoreau Falls trail bridge whose fate is delayed at this point. Sure they advertise it under the guise removal of non conforming structures from wilderness areas but I expect the budget is in the background. Dry River Trail was supposed to be reconstructed, the FS managed to run out of money to rebuild it s(while they built the road to nowhere to service the pit toilet at the east side campground) the solution was to but in some temporary relocations around the damaged sections after a couple of years and inform the public that they are lucky to even get that.

    By the way the state of Maine is doubling the cost for annual camp ground passes.

    Given the shift in Washington I expect the federal lands in general are in for rough four years.

  4. #19
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    So, with regard to the 60% parking pass increase: Anything in the WMNF on the verge of being closed?

    Why do we have to fall off the cliff before we recognize a problem?

    It's called maintaining infrastructure and, while many are loathe to do it, it's inevitable (and costly).

    I for one am happy to pony up a few addl bucks before the bridge collapses, the trail gets covered with blow downs or lean too turns to dust.

    BTW - Who funded and financed the rebuild the Dry River trail after the flood damage?

    cb
    It's a long way to the top
    ... if you want to rock & roll

  5. #20
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    The Dry River Trail rebuild along with several other storm related rebuilds like the East Side truck road; the rebuilds in the Waterville valley area, and the Lincoln Woods washout were lumped into a special FS line item associated with Irene. Unfortunately the projects that were done tended to be overkill and way over budget. One decision by the WMNF supervisor was to use only non powered tools and methods to do repairs in a wilderness area. Built into the wilderness act is the option for the local supervisor to use power tools and equipment in response to an emergency, with the "stroke of a pen" the work could have been done quicker and cheaper but the supervisor decided to be politically correct and elect not to take that option. Unfortunately by the time they got around to the Dry River they had run out of money to do anything except hang some flagging in the woods.

    One of the classic budget scams is to shift employee costs from underfunded operating accounts to special funding accounts, I expect that was used which means the capital account for storm repairs got drained quicker. Remember, the various administrators in the FS tend to move frequently, their only goal is to delay the inevitable and hope they are gone before the results of the short term decisions catch up with the long term.

    Anyone who has walked the East Side truck "road to nowhere" will probably agree that they went way overboard for a dead end road whose entire purpose appears to be to provide truck access to pump out the pit toilet at a campground.

  6. #21
    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Remix View Post
    As an aside, I believe that all Canadian park entry fees (not usage fees like campgrounds or backcountry permits) are being waived this year.
    NOTE: This applies to Canadian national parks. Provincial parks (of which there are quite a few) are still charging fees this year.

  7. #22
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Anyone who has walked the East Side truck "road to nowhere" will probably agree that they went way overboard for a dead end road whose entire purpose appears to be to provide truck access to pump out the pit toilet at a campground.
    I've been meaning to do that, never been on it. I've been curious about that new tentsite. Do happen to know if it gets a lot of use? For me, it seems to be in a weird place, given that the bridge is now gone. I know the old site was always busy and I loved that place.

  8. #23
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    The claim was that this campsite replaced the Franconia Falls campsite and that folks would walk across the river to go to the falls. It quite a large campground with somewhat dispersed sites. If someone is looking for an easy hike in it cant be beat. I expect someone with a garden cart could easily haul a keg up there (or at least a few coolers). The first part of the road is state of art, far nicer that many of the FS roads you normally drive, it then gets a bit more primitive but the bridges they put in place are quite impressive.

  9. #24
    Senior Member chomp's Avatar
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    Don't forget this:

    (f) Standard amenity recreation fee
    Except as limited by subsection (d), the Secretary may charge a standard amenity recreation fee for Federal recreational lands and waters under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, or the Forest Service, but only at the following:
    (1) A National Conservation Area.
    (2) A National Volcanic Monument.
    (3) A destination visitor or interpretive center that provides a broad range of interpretive services, programs, and media.
    (4) An area—
    (A) that provides significant opportunities for outdoor recreation;
    (B) that has substantial Federal investments;
    (C) where fees can be efficiently collected; and
    (D) that contains all of the following amenities:
    (i) Designated developed parking.
    (ii) A permanent toilet facility.
    (iii) A permanent trash receptacle.
    (iv) Interpretive sign, exhibit, or kiosk.
    (v) Picnic tables.
    (vi) Security services.

  10. #25
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    One of the "tricks" used by WMNF is to post a sign at a lot with no amenities, like 19 mile brook, that is part of another parking area (Great Gulf) and that the amenities are available down the road. This is also done along the Kanc at Downes Brook trail parking. There is fee tube but the amenities are down the road at Champney Falls. I think the 19 mile brook fee tube is scheduled to be removed as part of this fee increase.

  11. #26
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    One of the "tricks" used by WMNF is to post a sign at a lot with no amenities, like 19 mile brook, that is part of another parking area (Great Gulf) and that the amenities are available down the road. This is also done along the Kanc at Downes Brook trail parking. There is fee tube but the amenities are down the road at Champney Falls. I think the 19 mile brook fee tube is scheduled to be removed as part of this fee increase.
    If there was a bear-resistant trashcan and toilets at every popular trailhead, I would happily pay a fee increase. I just worry that we pay more and get less, with our fees subsidizing fire suppression efforts out was. Buy fire insurance or don't live in a high-risk fire zone. Ditto for floodplains.
    | 59.4% W48: 19/48
    Trail Adopter of the Guinea Pond Trail (Pemi District)

  12. #27
    Senior Member Remix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    So, with regard to the 60% parking pass increase: Anything in the WMNF on the verge of being closed?

    Why do we have to fall off the cliff before we recognize a problem?

    It's called maintaining infrastructure and, while many are loathe to do it, it's inevitable (and costly).

    I for one am happy to pony up a few addl bucks before the bridge collapses, the trail gets covered with blow downs or lean too turns to dust.

    BTW - Who funded and financed the rebuild the Dry River trail after the flood damage?

    cb
    It's not clear there is a problem, but of course people can disagree.

  13. #28
    Senior Member Remix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chomp View Post
    Don't forget this:

    (f) Standard amenity recreation fee
    Except as limited by subsection (d), the Secretary may charge a standard amenity recreation fee for Federal recreational lands and waters under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, or the Forest Service, but only at the following:
    (1) A National Conservation Area.
    (2) A National Volcanic Monument.
    (3) A destination visitor or interpretive center that provides a broad range of interpretive services, programs, and media.
    (4) An areaŚ
    (A) that provides significant opportunities for outdoor recreation;
    (B) that has substantial Federal investments;
    (C) where fees can be efficiently collected; and
    (D) that contains all of the following amenities:
    (i) Designated developed parking.
    (ii) A permanent toilet facility.
    (iii) A permanent trash receptacle.
    (iv) Interpretive sign, exhibit, or kiosk.
    (v) Picnic tables.
    (vi) Security services.

    The following is an excerpt from the fee increase web page that I cited:

    In 2004, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act which allows the Forest Service to retain funds collected at certain recreation sites and use these funds locally to operate and maintain and improve these sites. Before the Forest Service received the authority to retain funds locally, all fees collected by the Forest Service went to the national treasury. Fees are used to maintain day-use sites including trash pickup, septic pumping, painting, and cleaning, and to address the backlog of deferred maintenance, conduct patrols and maintain highly used trails, shelters, and campsites, and to assist visitors with information and education services such as Leave No Trace and hikeSafe.


    What specifically is the 60% increase funding?

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