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Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 04 September 2007

In May of this year I posted a blog entry titled: "Clayoquot's Ultra-Luxury Privatized Wilderness" and offered this comment:

Because the parks commercialization and privatization agenda is further advanced in Canada than it is here in the states, looking North provides a clear peek into the future that awaits our own National Parks and Wilderness areas. THIS is the direction things are headed. And while this future has already arrived in Canada, it may yet be avoidable here in the USA.

In August the LA Times ran a story on "Glamping"  ó which is precisely what I had written about in May.

I has prepared to let this article pass without comment ó until I ran across a version of it that began with these words:

Campers can take the wilderness out of the experience

Camping is not just for ordinary folks anymore. "Glamping - glamor camping -  is in vogue for families who want nature neatly packaged.

THIS is the direction things are headed ó and while this particular article is about glamping on private property, many outfitter/guides practice glamping within designated Wilderness. This is the trend being promoted by public lands administrators. And as everyone in the business knows, there's more money to be made in glamping than in camping.

Unfortunately, the future portended by these articles may no longer be avoidable.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 September 2007 )
Rec Fee Case Goes to Trial
Written by Guest Kitty Benzar   
Thursday, 30 August 2007

The trial of United States vs. Christine Wallace will be in Tucson on Tuesday September 4 before U.S. District Judge John Roll. Chris is charged by the Coronado National Forest with hiking on Mt Lemmon without paying their $5 access/use fee. 

The Government's Position: The Forest Service says that by declaring Mt Lemmon a High Impact Recreation Area (HIRA) they can charge anyone who does anything within the HIRA, including activities specifically prohibited by law from fees such as parking, accessing undeveloped backcountry, and primitive camping. They have charged Chris with a federal crime for parking her car at a location that has no amenities and going on a hike.

The Defendant's Position:
Chris says that the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act prohibits fees for parking and hiking into undeveloped backcountry, whether the parking and hiking occur within a HIRA or not. You can read about the case here.
Background: Chris filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that the fee she didn't pay is not authorized in the law. U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Pyle granted her motion and dismissed the charges. In an extremely well researched and well written decision, he said that the fee prohibitions in the FLREA apply within HIRAs. You can read about the decision here.

The Forest Service appealed Judge Pyle's decision. Since Mt Lemmon's fee program is very similar to other fee programs (Mt Evans, American Fork Canyon, Mirror Lake Highway, Sandia Byway, etc) they knew that to let it stand would kill some of their biggest cash cows. Their appeal was granted by U.S. District Judge John Roll. Judge Roll reinstated the charges and sent the case to trial. You can read more about the appeal here.
Next: After several date changes, the trial is now set for September 4 before Judge Roll. The Government is sending a big-gun out of town prosecutor. If Chris is found guilty the case will be  appealed to the 9th Circuit.
How to Help: Chris's attorney is serving pro bono but there are out-of-pocket expenses for her travel costs, as well as for filing fees, copying, mailing, etc. Donations can be made by credit card through the AZ No Fee website. You can mail checks to Chris Wallace Legal Defense Fund, 912A N. 4th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85705.
Kitty Benzar, President

Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 August 2007 )
Know Neoliberalism
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 29 August 2007

I have long used the issue of recreation user fees as a tool for exposing, and  fighting, the wider reaching threats of neoliberalism and also what I have been calling "neofeudalism".

Starting with the creation of the Wild Wilderness website a decade ago,  I have continuously warned that park and forest recreation budgets would, in the years to come, be slashed. I explained that this would be done  in order to create a crisis that would eventually be resolved by privatization and commercialization.

A decade ago I coined the phrase "The Corporate Takeover of Nature" and as much as I had hoped to prevent that from happening, what I was really speaking about was merely the name of a battleground.

The war is over the "Corporate Takeover of Everything", and from the perspective of Wild Wilderness, it is a war that is not merely being lost, it is being lost with little meaningful resistance being offered.

Pasted below is an article by George Monbiot published yesterday in The Guardian (London) which explains as well as any brief article can, the nature of the neoliberal threat to our public lands, our shared infrastructure, our democracy and our lives. It needs no further introduction ó and yet, for the sake of my peers in the conservation community, I wish to inoculate your thinking with one word. When you come upon it, I ask you to please momentarily pause and reflect. The word is "PEW."


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 August 2007 )
Only the name has changed
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Recreation Site Facility Master Planning is a 6 year old Forest Service program. Its purpose is to reduce the number of maintained recreation sites and to ensure that those sites which remain open will be the least costly to maintain and/or the most profitable to operate.

RS-FMP, as this program has been called since its inception, became EXTREMELY controversial when brought to the media's attention by Wild Wilderness and the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition. It became SO CONTROVERSIAL that outgoing Chief of the Forest Service Dale Bosworth, as one of his last items of business, temporarily halted the program. Bosworth assured the public that  RS-FMP  would undergo intensive internal review and that changes would be made as required.

This month, the Recreation Site Facility Master Planning program was terminated. RE-FMP was replaced with something called "Recreation Site Analysis" (RSA).

The first RSA has just been released.  This new report appears to be virtually IDENTICAL to older RS-FMP reports. About all that has changed is the program name and logo -- and, to be frank,  the logo has not changed much.

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER comparison. Note that the dollar sign has been removed from the word "Sustainability". Note also that what appears to be writing has been added to the information board.

The implied message is that the Forest Service will no longer keep the public in dark and will no longer focus narrowly upon making recreation into a financially $ustainable business.  I'd suggest that nothing of substance has changed.



A Contrarian View of ATVs
Written by Scott Silver   
Monday, 27 August 2007

For the longest while, pro-off-road vehicle interest groups have promoted the PR-message which says there is nothing inherently wrong with off-roading and whatever problems are associated with the activity can all be attributed to "the few bad apples" who fail to follow the rules and, by so doing, spoil it for everyone else. That's the "Tread Lightly" message and it has served the motorized recreation community well.

More recently, the conservation community began using a remarkably similar message. According to their newly adopted frame, "Everyone has a right to access our public lands, but no one has the right to abuse these lands or ruin the experience of others enjoying America's Great Outdoors."  That's really not very different from the Tread Lightly message, is it?

With there being so little difference in the way both sides of the motorized recreation issue frame their messaging, I found the appended article from Alberta Canada refreshing. It offers a stark, and presumably heart-felt, contrast to the carefully managed, professionally crafted, sterile messages that now dominates all discussion of this issue.


Last Updated ( Monday, 27 August 2007 )
Contrasting Wilderness Views
Written by Guest - George Nickas   
Saturday, 25 August 2007

Here are two articles about Wilderness that I thought created an interesting contrast.

This article about the Isle Royale Wilderness from the "Marquette Mining Journal" touts the inaccessibility of the Wilderness as a real plus.

This article from the "Columbian" titled "Wilderness that too few can enjoy" complains that the decision to not rebuild a section of the Stehekin Road makes the Stephan Mather Wilderness too inaccessible.

Some get it, some don't!

An added note (correction) about each article.  The Isle Royale Wilderness is about 130,000 acres, not 500,000 as the article states.   The Stehekin Road is a "cherrystem" in the Stephen Mather Wilderness, it is not in the Wilderness as stated in the article.


Only pretending to be asleep
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Federal land management agencies deny even the possibility that increased recreation fees have been discouraging visitation and use. When confronted with the fact of declining visitation and decreasing recreational use of America's public lands, land mangers and their private-sector partners have created a long list of self-serving explanations. Fees are not among them.

That being the case, I wonder how our Park Service and Forest Service managers would explain this short article from today's Kansas City Star.


"It is difficult to awaken the person who is only pretending to be asleep." - an old saying

--- begin quoted ---

Beaches waive fees to combat heat

Too hot? Try the beach.

In an effort to provide relief from the high temperatures and even higher heat indexes, the entrance fees to the beaches at Blue Springs and Longview lakes will be waived through Friday.

Also a reduced weekend price of $2 per adult and $1 per child will take effect for the remainder of the season. Normal admission prices are $5 for adults and $3 for children. 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 August 2007 )
Robert Funkhouser
Written by Scott Silver   
Sunday, 12 August 2007

It is with unbearable sadness that I must report that Western Slope No Fee Coalition President Robert Funkhouser died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack at his home, early in the morning of August 10. He was 50.

Rob was a tireless advocate of free access to public lands for everyone. He worked the phones, networked among diverse groups, met with elected officials and their staffs, spent endless hours in research, testified in Congress and before many State and County elected bodies, and authored dozens of articles, opinion columns, and policy papers, all toward the goal of rolling back, first Fee Demo, and later the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

He had some setbacks, but achieved many more successes. At the time of his death, he was extremely optimistic about legislation being drafted by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) that promises to roll back the worst fee abuses by the public lands agencies.

Rob was a close, personal, friend. He will be greatly missed.

Willingness to Pay for Clean Air in National Parks and Wilderness
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 10 August 2007
There is such a thing as the "Clean Air Act", but the Department of Interior does not respect that law. The Department of Interior has instead, under the direction of Libertarian ideologue Lynn Scarlett, come up with a new idea for providing clean air within National Parks and designated Wilderness areas.
Today, with increasing frequency, if you want to view the sunset , you need to pay.
How much more would you be willing to pay to have a clear view of the sun as it was setting over your favorite park or Wilderness? That is the subject of the appended announcement from today's Federal Register.

Last Updated ( Friday, 10 August 2007 )
Recreation Forum Dividends
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 09 August 2007

Earlier this year, the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and the National Forest Foundation (with support from the American Petroleum Institute, the US Forest Service, Tread Lightly and Yamaha) held a series of "Recreation Forums". The process was tightly controlled and designed to advance the ARC's wreckreation agenda.

As a follow-up, the ARC, in conjunction with the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), Americans for Responsible Recreation Access (ARRA) and other wise-use / motorized interest groups now seek to elaborate upon the gains resulting from those forums.

Pasted below is an article from the current edition of BlueRibbon Magazine. It explains what, specifically, these motorized recreation groups seek to achieve as a consequence of those Recreation Forums.

Please note the use of the "kids in the outdoors" messaging in this BRC article. The "Kids" message (in all it's permutations -- inner city, obese, diabetic, Richard Louv, nature-deficient, etc. -- is a winner and is now used in everything originating from the recreation industry, from motorized user groups and, of course, from their partners, the federal land management agencies. Unfortunately, it's also used by a few conservation groups.

Finally, I'd like to draw attention to the Forest Access Strategy (FAS) described below and state emphatically that this is NOT, as the article claims, new. Following the BRC article is a 10 year old ARC document that clearly set the stage for "managed recreation", "travel management planning", and FAS.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 August 2007 )
Same Stripes, Different Tune, More Dangerous
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 09 August 2007

This message is intended for the relatively small group of people who will both find it of interest and who will not require a lengthy explanation to appreciate the meaning of what this says.

The signatories you see below are representative of those who backed the Paul Hoffman National Parks policy rewrite. They are largely concessionaires and key special interest groups. They are in no way representative of the American public and they are certainly not "friends" of the national park system. They are those interests with the greatest desire and/or need to transform the way in which, and the purpose for which, our National Parks are managed.  The messaging they have used is pure fluff. It is, however, calculated to be effective and has already been exceedingly well received with the media and with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior and, presumably, with the Bush Administration. This non-threatening language may very well accomplish a large portion of what the Hoffman rewrite failed to accomplish. It has certainly changed the nature of the public debate ... even though the interests of the players has not altered one tiny bit.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 August 2007 )
Cash for cutting while cutting cash for recreation
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 09 August 2007

The first paragraph from the appended article from today's Oregonian tells an important story.

Here it is, in a nutshell.

Northwest national forests are hurriedly boosting federal logging to the highest levels in years with a new infusion of cash, even as they close campgrounds and other recreation sites because money for them is drying up.


Forest visitors wonder why there is so little money available for maintaining recreation facilities.

People wonder why they are having to pay ever-rising forest recreation fees while recreational opportunities on the forests diminish and disappear.

The Forest Service says the reason is because of Congressional budget cuts.

Read the appended article and, if you've not already done so,  you might question whether the Forest Service is telling the truth.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 August 2007 )
Marketing Western Beauty - A WARNING
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 08 August 2007

Appended is an article from today's Salt Lake Tribune published under the headline "Marketing Western beauty." It begins:

   [Western counties that rely on timber, coal mining and oil and gas drilling at the expense of natural beauty are trading short-term gain for an economy that could rely on hunting, fishing, tourism and attracting affluent residents from other parts of the country.]

 ... and it ends with this thought:

   [So, although selling beauty is a better long-term prospect than drilling for riches, rural residents could end up working in "the king's land," Knold said. Park City is a good example of where successful tourism morphed a played-out mining town into something far different but not unreservedly better.]

The article is about a new Sierra Club report titled "The New Economy of the West: From Clearcutting to Camping."

I'd like to further introduce this article with two contiguous paragraphs I wrote for publication several years ago -- and a decade old warning from High Country News:

   [The conservation interests of both Kerr and Foreman are rather narrowly focused upon the protection of trees from loggers and the protection of Western grasslands from cows. To them, recreation and tourism are seen as alternative uses for public lands, uses that can be promoted to advantage. They judge pay-to-play recreation and tourism to be less environmentally harmful that logging or  grazing.  They  appreciate that lands used for logging and grazing are, because of their degraded state, less valued for recreation and tourism. Thus, by using market based arguments, Kerr, Foreman and others believe that it is environmentally beneficial to encourage the replacement of harmful logging and grazing, with less harmful recreation. Allowing land managers to commodify recreational pursuits and to charge for access and use, provides incentives that would lead those mangers from offering below-cost logging and subsidized grazing, to offering recreation and tourism instead.

   During the Clinton/Gore years there was a general move away from logging, mining, drilling, grazing and other resource extraction uses of public lands. These trends were so deeply engrained in the common lore of the times that the authoritative newspaper of Western land uses, High Country News, produces a special edition on April 27, 1998 titled "The Old West is Going Under". Publisher Ed Marston began his front page article with these words "Think of this as a deathwatch issue, in which we hover around the bed of the extractive West, some of us administering CPR, some of us trying to yank the creature off life support so it can die a quicker death, and some of us worrying over what will come next." In the next few paragraphs, Marston introduces articles that appear later in the journal in which the presumed demise of logging, grazing and drilling are each, in turn, discussed. Marstons' ends with these words; "The final article Ö is about the recreation industry that is moving quickly to take over the forests, mountains and deserts that the loggers, ranchers and oil and gas guys are vacating. Indications are that this new extractive industry, which carries with it user fees and increased motorized activities, isn't going to be a huge improvement over the natural resource industries." At the time, it would have been appropriate to say that it appears that the pragmatic conservationists had indeed prevailed and that pay-to-play recreation and tourism would become the dominant new revenue-generating uses of America's public lands.

The article referenced above was given the headline, "The latest 1,000-pound gorilla". The warning it offered is as valid today as when it was published.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 August 2007 )
Heretical Thoughts
Written by Guest: Jim Stiles   
Saturday, 04 August 2007

[Jim Stiles publishes the Canyon Country Zephyr in Moab, Utah. What follows is part of his "Take It or Leave It" column as it appeared in the Zephyr's August - September 2007 edition.]

Iíve always considered myself a conservationist, but Iím not sure my reasons for conserving have been as lofty or high-minded as the likes of many affluent mainstream environmentalists. Iíve conserved out of necessity more than any politically-driven agenda. I donít conserve to be hip; I conserve because I canít afford to do otherwise. I have determined to live modestly and conservatively so I can still screw off and be lazy, as is my preference.

I live in a small house because itís easy to maintain. I can vacuum the cat hair in ten minutes. Itís economical to heat in the winter and easy to cool in the summer. I live alone and donít use much water because I have better things to do than worry about my lawn. I go to the laundromat once a month, whether I need to or not. I flush every third time on average, because I forget to flush the other two times. And no, I donít put the seat down, which has nothing to do with energy conservation but is an enlightening aside and a warning to any woman out there who wants to make toilet seat positioning an issue, political or otherwise.

Lately Iíve been having some thoughts on conservation, however, that most of you will find shocking, even heretical. Recently I scanned the headlines, searching for conservation stories and what I discovered was noteworthy. In almost every instance, proposed water and energy conservation measures were always linked to future population growth.


Last Updated ( Sunday, 05 August 2007 )
Chip 'em all, and be done with it
Written by Scott Silver   
Saturday, 04 August 2007

Appended is an newspaper article from New Jersey titled "Beach tags to give way to wireless wristbands." The article is not merely fascinating, it is extraordinarily predictive of issues that are about to impact YOU!  This obscure, local, article is damned important!!!

Ostensibly, the article is about using high-tech to ensure that everyone who sets foot upon the Jersey shore has paid his or her beach access fees and that no one is on the beach who shouldn't be there. It is technology gone haywire in the pursuit of private profits and the privatization of public access.

Most importantly, it is about the future of access to our parks, forests, lakes, rivers, beaches and other places where we, as citizens and taxpayers, formerly enjoyed free access to what once were OUR public lands. Whether high tech will be involved, remains an unknown. That access will be controlled and priced, is all but certain.

That's all I'm going to offer by way of introduction, but I'd like to also share with you the comments NJ readers have already posted in response to the appended article. 

Listen to the PEOPLE. Lord knows, the politicians and the land mangers aren't doing so.


Here are those reader comments:

   Only in New Jersey! Geez, you can't do anything for free in this state. Only elected officials would think this is a good idea. A vendor must've sold them on this technology.

   Technology is an awesome thing - but this is OVER THE TOP! Whatever happened to the beach being right up there with baseball and apple pie - one of American's favorite pastimes. We need to return to the day when the beaches were free and the cotton candy was spinning...wake up and speak up NJ - our voices are powerful!

   To this day, I don't understand why you have pay to get on the beaches in New Jersey. Growing up, there was more to do on the boardwalk, more of a kid friendly place and never do I recall having to pay. Next New Jersey will want you to pay for the air you breathe.

   SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Jersey dont give them any ideas!!

   Yes I remember as a kid going to the beach with my family. And yes it was free. ANd after a day on the sand going on the boardwalk, going on rides, playing the arcade games. I remember my dad spending a nickel and winning a bear bigger then I was.

   What was that song? Those were the days my friend.

   Nothings certain in life but death, taxes, and corruption in New Jersey

   Appalled, I'm sorry, didn't mean to throw out new ideas to put in their little heads. Dag nabbit, I feel a new bill coming on. Hurry, everyone get oxygen tanks ready. --
   We'll be getting microchipped before long ....

   GEEEEEEEEEEEEZ will you guys stop giving them ideas?? Or if you have to make suggestions, make them ones that would go in our favor! Like no one who makes under 100k per year has to pay no taxes on anything. --
   I don't like this at all, I don't even go to the beach anymore because I don't have the spare cash for it.

   Every morning now, I get up and read about this total global control grid and massive surveillance / police state. I'm tired of it. The person who said "we'll be getting chipped before long" was right. It's all planned. The iPods, the headphones, they're all getting all the young conditioned for it right now.

   When are people going to wake up and speak out against this stuff?! I am going crazy about it!! STOP THE NEW WORLD ORDER! 9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB!!

   How New Jersey residents ever gave into having to pay to get on their own beaches is insane. Have they never visited other states where you just... uhm... walk on the beach? I don't know. I used to sneak on between OG and Asbury, but now they have a sign up there basically saying not to. Those word deleted. I just want to put my feet in the water for 10 minutes. Jesus Christ. I have to pay 7 bucks to put my feet in the water? I don't swim, nor expose my skinny t-shirt tanned body to anyone in a public situation. I have to pay for lifeguards to save me from the maximum of 3 feet of water? As far as paying for the trash cleanup on the beach, I do that myself, voluntarily because I live here and it makes me sick!

The article follows...
Last Updated ( Saturday, 04 August 2007 )
Fee Leaves Some Cold
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 03 August 2007

Today my local newspaper ran a front page story; the headline read:

    Shelter's $5-a-night fee leaves some cold
Others contend that's a bargain

You've heard these arguments many times with reference of National Park and forest recreation fees.  Chances are slim of you having heard these argument with reference of homeless shelters. The similarity of the arguments used in both debates, is remarkable.

Pasted below is a much condensed version of today's article and a link where the original version can be read.


Last Updated ( Friday, 03 August 2007 )
Sandy Hook NP Investigation Authorized
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 03 August 2007

On March 19, 2002,  Wild Wilderness became actively engaged in trying to prevent the privatization and commercialization of Sandy Hook's Fort Hancock within the Gateway National Recreation Area of New Jersey ó and we are still fighting.

It was on March 19, 2002 that the American public got it's first inkling of what the National Park Service was cooking up and it was that same day that I distributed the warning which can be read at here.

My first message on this issue was titled "Privatization of Sandy Hook National Park" and it ended with these words:

"It is through these private-development schemes that George Bush and Gale Norton intend to "fix" the National Park System. Bush, Norton and NPS Director Fran Mainella will, unless actively opposed, parcel out our shared heritage bit by bit and make it available to developers and to other commercial private interests.   WHO WILL STOP THEM!!??"


Five years after asking "Who will stop them?" I may have a partial answer ó one good for Sandy Hook New Jersey, but totally inadequate when it comes to addressing the larger question of "Who will stop the now so much more widespread privatization and commercialization of the entire National Park system?"

In the appended article from today's press you will read that New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone "has been granted his request that the U.S. Department of Interior's inspector general investigate the lease agreement between the National Park Service and a private developer who is seeking to redevelop a portion of Sandy Hook's Fort Hancock." You will read that Pallone says "the entire process had been a debacle" ó and he speaks the truth.

I will just add that the U.S. Department of Interior is the most scandal plagued department within the Federal Government today. Its former Secretary, Gale Norton, is mercifully gone. Its former NPS Director, Fran Mainella, is mercifully gone as are so other disgraced DOI leaders ó some of whom are now convicted felons.

The Department of Interior is still rotten to the core and scandals such as the ongoing one at Sandy Hook will continue until the PEOPLE rise up and stop the bastards who are "Stealing the People's Treasure".

Also be sure to visit the Save Sandy Hook website and the website of the developer whose arrangements with the NPS are currently under investigation.


Last Updated ( Friday, 03 August 2007 )
Be careful what you wish for
Written by Guest: George Nickas   
Thursday, 02 August 2007

There's an old saying about "being careful what you wish for...."  When communities throughout the West decide that their economy is dependent on recreation their reaction won't be to preserve wild places, wildness or other "non-economic" values.  Instead, it will be on promoting policies and schemes to exploit wild lands to make the most recreation dollars.  it won't be pretty.  It will continue the ruination of wildness and other values most of us hold dear, and that future generations may never know.  The "new economy" (really the same old dance, just different partners) is gobbling up the "last best places" just as fast as--and probably more permanently than--any of the old economies.

One doesn't have to read a lot of conservation history to learn that our forebearers in this movement understood that wildlands are doomed if they're forced to "serve the economy."  As John Muir warned, "Nothing dollarable is safe."  There's a reason the Wilderness Act, for example, prohibits all commercial enterprise, even relatively benign ones.  The law made an exception for outfitters and guides ("commercial services") and Wilderness is increasingly suffering for that.  It slays me, then, that so many of our conservation colleagues want to promote public lands as economic engines rather than as sources of clean air, clean water, wildlife security, and inspiration for the human soul.  Why do these lands have to serve the economy, especially this economy, which is incredibly unsustainable?

I believe that recreation, especially quiet, muscle-powered contemplative recreation, is good for human beings.  Nothing better than a walk in the woods.  But it's not good for anything else.  We displace wildlife, trample soil, crush vegetation, all the while consuming massive amounts of hydrocarbons and other materials to make the "stuff" we use to recreate and to get "out there" in our cars.  Without a very strong measure of restraint we six billion humans--and counting--will consume it all, even while engaged in seemingly benign activities like going for a walk in the woods or wending our way down a slickrock canyon.  I'm sad to say that I see nothing about restraint in this news release from the Sierra Club (see appended).  I only see rah-rah cheers promoting the increasing unsustainable "wreckreation" juggernaut that will, sure as any modern-day economy that came before, destroy what's best about our public lands, while continuing our lifestyles' ravish consumption of planet Earth.

George Nickas
Executive Director
Wilderness Watch

Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 August 2007 )
Nature Deficit or Disney Surfeit
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 02 August 2007
The hyping of the recreation industry's Richard Louv (Brand) - Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) campaign has taken an interesting twist with Maine Governor John Baldacci recently announcing: "We don't have to fly to Disneyland. We have Disneyland all around us."

That statement is obviously false but it is a concept we hear with growing frequency. The recreation and tourism industry leaders who dictate public lands recreation policy and who have long been engaged in the 'Corporate Takeover of Nature and the Disneyfication of the Wild', find it beneficial to equate nature with artifice. Public land managers, following industry's lead, are amongst the worst offenders, continually equating the lands they manage with themeparks and other purely commercial forms of entertainment.

For years now we have been bombarded with a message which asks: "Isn't a day on public lands worth as much as a day at Disneyland?"  The comparison is false and the question does not deserve a response. One can not, and must not, equate nature with artifice. It is wrong to price nature using artifice as a comparative reference point and yet this has all but become the accepted norm.

For the mass market to which the recreation industry has pitched it's message,  the Disneyland comparison has raw nature coming up short. Nature needs to be improved upon, experiences need to be packaged and adventure needs to be made predictable if this Nature-Disneyland comparison is to hold true. In other words, Nature must be Disneyfied.

When reading the appended article about Balacci's new "Take It Outside" initiative, please remember that there is no such thing as "Nature Deficit Disorder". NDD is an idea put forth not by a psychologist or qualified medical professional, but by a newspaper reporter, Richard Louv. It was the recreation industry that successfully transformed the NDD idea and Mr. Louv himself into their self-serving public relations campaign.

Perhaps this quote from the appended article will help explain why this was so.

Acadia National Park Superintendent Sheridan Steele said the success of the initiative could be measured by monitoring park fees for children and sales of youth sporting equipment.



Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 August 2007 )
Why isn't the Great Outdoors Great ?
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 31 July 2007

A strange thing is happening.  A growing number of individuals and organizations linked to the travel-tourism industry are openly making the connection between declining participation in outdoor recreation and increased recreation fees charged for the use of the Great Outdoors. This may, or may not, be a good thing.

Have a look at this quote from the appended news release:

[ For months now we've been hearing about the decline in visitors and higher fees to USA public lands. Why isn't the great outdoors so great anymore?

    The Centers for Disease Control reports a 30 percent drop in youth participation in outdoor activities over the past 10 years. Since 1999 recreational visits to our national parks have been declining, with overnight stays down 16 percent, and tent backcountry camping down nearly 20 percent. Federal studies in many states show the first decline in 20 years to our national forests. ]  

The recreation industry is in a panic. Fewer visitors mean declining profits. It also means that THEIR efforts over the past many years have backfired.

A decade ago,  the recreation and travel tourism industries all but took control of America's public lands recreation policy with the passage of their Recreation Fee Demonstration Program. Fee-demo launched a pay-to-play management paradigm and with it, a radical transformation of the very nature of outdoor recreation. Fees were not implemented for revenue generation. The purpose of fee-demo was to bring the profit motive to outdoor recreation management so that experiences could be packaged, marketed and sold to paying customers. The expectation of the recreation industry was that their profits would rise as undeveloped recreation yielded to Disneyfied Wreckreation. They erred and we, the people,  have been paying the price ever since.

In the span of just one decade, these new policies have transformed millions upon millions of former forest visitors and public lands enthusiasts into people who actively AVOID traveling to, and dealing with, their public lands. In just 10 years, a "crisis" has been created --- a crisis that the RECREATION INDUSTRY is now dealing with.

In the months and years ahead the recreation industry will acknowledge to a growing degree the crisis that has manifest itself in the form of declining visitation to America's once-great outdoors. The recreation industry's solution will NOT, however, be a pleasing one. The recreation industry's solution will be to call upon their public-land management "partners" to bite even more deeply into the "Corporate Takeover of Nature" apple.

Unless those who have long appreciated their public lands rise up and actively oppose the recreation industry's efforts to dominate public policy, the transformation which has been in process for the past decade will almost certainly go from bad to worse.

Fees are NOT the issue.
Fees are, however, central to everything.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 31 July 2007 )
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