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Ken Salazar, Not Berry, Gets Interior Position
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The response to Wild Wilderness' recent alert by folks such as yourself, was epic. I give a sincere "thank you" to everyone who contacted the Obama Transition Team. Not only were your concerns about John Berry's heard, so were your thoughts regarding rec-fees and your warnings about the black-hat American Recreation Coalition.  A week ago, those topics were not on the President Elect's radar screen and today they are. That's a major accomplishment --- one that will pay dividends for years to come.

With regard to the nomination of Ken Salazar to lead the Interior Department, that appears to have been a middle of the road choice. There were candidates whose values aligned more closely with those of Wild Wilderness. There were candidates whose appointment would have been far more frustrating. For the first time since the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program was introduced in 1996, the incoming Interior Secretary is someone on record as opposing  recreation fees. Senator Ken Salazar was a co-sponsor of the Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act of 2007, S2438 -- a bill that did not pass in 2008 and which will almost certainly be reintroduced in the next session.
With Salazar's confirmation, I hope and trust that the Department of Interior will cease issuing politically-motivated, ideologically-grounded reports claiming the public simply adores the rec-fee program and that it has been such as unqualified success.
Likewise, I hope and trust that the incoming head of Interior will cooperate with the President and Congress to repeal the fee program and to actively reverse course and distance the land management agencies from the numerous pro-privatization, pro-commercialization and pro-motorization recreation policies implemented by the Bush Administration at the behest of the ARC. It truly is time for a change!
Once again, I thank everyone for their support and look forward to the possibility of making positive headway in the years to come.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 December 2008 )
Stop John Berry's Interior Secretary Nomination
Written by Scott Silver   
Saturday, 13 December 2008


Appended is a brief message received from a trusted associate. It deals with the appointment of John Berry to the position of Interior Secretary. It further confirms what other sources have been suggesting, that being:

John Berry appears to be incoming President's top pick for the Interior Secretary position


The Obama Transition Team could give Berry the nod as soon as Monday...

.... and what a disaster that would be!!!

John Berry has, my sources say blown past the environmental community's favored candidate, Raul Grijalva.

John Berry is almost certainly the candidate favored by the ANTI-environmental American Recreation Coalition -- the lobby group that worked with Interior's Paul Hoffman in an effort  to weaken National Park policies and to open the parks to increased motorized recreation.

John Berry was recently appointed to the ARC's Outdoor Resources Review Group. Having Berry appointed Interior Secretary would be a phenomenal coup for the ARC.

John Berry was the Department of Interior's Recreation Fee Demonstration point-person. In that capacity Berry worked closely with the ARC's President, Derrick Crandall. Crandall was a chief proponent of this immensely unpopular and contentions program.  Click to read Congressional testimony by both Berry and Crandall.

John Berry is the ONLY candidate now in the running who would be receptive to the pressures exerted by the American Recreation Coalition -- and those pressures promote the privatization, commercialization and motorization of recreational opportunities in the National Parks and other public lands.

ARC, I might add, was a highly visible and staunch supporter of the nominations of Interior Secretaries  James Watt, Donald Hodel and Gale Norton. No one who loves the great outdoors should accept as Interior Secretary any nominee favored by the ARC.

Barack Obama was elected because he promised to bring change.  John Berry's appointment would ensure continuity of the ARC's dominance over recreation policies. Is this the "change" Mr. Obama promised us?  I hope not!!!

Pasted immediately below is the most current information I have in my possession.  Below that you is contact information for the Obama Transition team, should you wish to weight in. Time is of the essence so please do not delay.


Last Updated ( Saturday, 13 December 2008 )
Issues Threatening Recreation Industry's Growth
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
When it comes to outdoor recreation policy, the American Recreation Coalition is almost certainly the most influential lobbyist in America. When the ARC put's its "Top Ten Challenges to Recreation" onto paper, I take careful note. I hope you will too. 
As you browse ARC's list (below), several of their points will likely be glaringly offensive. Some may seem benign and a few may even strike you as positive.
Those who are influenced by the ARC, (i.e., lands managers, politicians, the media, certain recreation groups and a handful of conservation groups) will treat this list as if it had the authority of the Ten Commandments.
I hope you will treat it for what it is. It is a listing of the "issues that are threatening the recreation industry's growth" -- it is that, and nothing more.
It should not become the basis for national outdoor recreation policy, though it almost certainly will.
Things are seldom as they seem;
skim milk masquerades as cream.

            -W.S. Gilbert
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 August 2008 )
Public Lands Fees - Summer 2008 Update
Written by Guest: Kitty Benzar   
Wednesday, 27 August 2008

FROM: Western Slope No-Fee Coalition

This year's Congressional Summer Recess is a good time to pause and take stock of where things stand in the movement to free our public lands from access fees. Here's an update of recent developments and ongoing efforts.

S.2438 The Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act

The Fee Repeal Act was introduced into the U.S. Senate in December, 2007, 4 months to the day following the unexpected death of Robert Funkhouser, our co-founder and first President. Without Robert's ceaseless efforts the bill would never have happened, and it is heartbreaking that he was not there to celebrate.
The celebration was brief, however, because now comes the hard work of getting the bill passed. It has four powerful sponsors: Max Baucus (MT), Mike Crapo (ID), Jon Tester (MT), and Ken Salazar (CO), but it has to get through the committee process before it can move to the floor for a vote. 
It has been assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and is expected to be heard in the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. We are pushing for a hearing in September, because after that it's hard to be noticed above all the election-year noise. The bill must get a majority vote in the full Committee to move forward.
You can read more about the bill and its effects, and link to a non-partisan national legislative watch website where you can cast your vote in favor of the bill HERE.
What You Can Do: Contact the leadership of the Committee and Subcommittee, and urge them to schedule S.2438 for a hearing as soon as possible: Committee Chair: Jeff Bingaman (NM) 202-224-5521, Committee Ranking Member: Pete Domenici (NM) 202-224-6621, Subcommittee Chair: Ron Wyden (OR) 202-224-5244, Subcommittee Ranking Member: John Barrasso (WY) 202-224-6441.
Contact your own Senators and ask them to co-sponsor S.2438. If your Senator is on the Committee, your call carries extra weight. View a list of Committee Members HERE.
Contact information at www.senate.gov.

House Hearing on Fee Implementation

On June 18, the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands held an important hearing on the implementation of the current fee law, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, or RAT for short. (Recreation Access Tax).
Chairman Raul Grijalva (AZ) opened the hearing with a moving opening statement about Congress's commitment to free public access to public lands, and his statement was backed with a slide show of fee areas across the country.
Witnesses for the Forest Service (Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey) and Department of Interior (Deputy Secretary of Interior Lynn Scarlett) then testified, claiming that the fees are popular and are working great.
They received an intense grilling from the Subcommittee members, and their responses were evasive at best and downright misleading at worst. It was pretty clear that they are completely out of touch with the intense anger and opposition that most Americans feel when they are charged money for access to lands that they already own and pay to maintain with their hard-earned taxes.
The second panel of witnesses kicked off with Idaho State Representative George Eskridge, who sponsored Idaho's unanimous state resolution calling for repeal of the RAT. He was followed by Western Slope No-Fee Coalition President Kitty Benzar, National Recreation and Park Association's Richard Dolesh, Bill Wade, who heads the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and Peter Wiechers, a teacher and kayaker from California.
A completely different picture emerged from this panel, one that shows people being priced out of their own public lands, local economies trying to cope with declining visitation, working families (and their kids) staying home because they can't afford to visit the great outdoors, and agencies unable or unwilling to account for millions of dollars in fee revenue, much of it being charged under legally questionable circumstances.
The anti-fee witnesses carried the day, and there are strong indications that a Repeal Bill will be introduced in the House as a companion to S.2438 in the Senate. We will let you know the moment that happens.
You can view archived video of the hearing and read Rep. Grijalva's opening statement and the written statements of the witnesses HERE.
What You Can Do: Contact the Subcommittee Leadership and thank them for holding the hearing. Urge them to introduce legislation to repeal the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Subcommittee Chair: Raul Grijalva (AZ) 202-225-2435, Subcommittee Ranking Member: Rob Bishop (UT) 202-225-0453.
Contact  your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to introduce legislation to repeal the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. If your Representative sits on the House Natural Resources Committee, your call carries extra weight. View a list of Committee Members HERE.
Contact information at www.house.gov.

The RecRACs Keep (Steam)Rolling Along

Beginning in 2007, the Forest Service and BLM Recreation Resource Advisory Committees have been coming on line and beginning their work.
Known as RecRACS, they are mandated by the fee law and are supposed to act as representatives of the public, recommending for or against new fee areas and fee increases.
Each RecRAC consists of a spectrum of users, including recreationists, local and tribal governments, guides and outfitters, and environmental groups. In some areas new committees were established, in others existing BLM advisory groups are being used. A few states (AK, NE, WY) have opted out of the RecRAC process, at the request of their Governors. You can see an interactive map at the Forest Service's RecRAC website.
The RecRAC members are selected and appointed by the agencies themselves, and the members all represent groups that are beholden to the Forest Service and BLM for their particular activity or area of interest. They are selected because they are likely to do the agencies' bidding.
The results are about what you would expect: a virtual assembly-line of fee approvals.
To date, the RecRACs have approved at least 494 Fee Increases and 218 New Fee Sites (see our Box Score of Fee Proposals).
They have questioned only 35 fee proposals, of which 19 were denied or tabled, and 16 withdrawn by the agencies - to be reworked and brought back another day.
That's 747 fee proposals in just over one year, of which 712, or 95%, have been approved. If you think that's because they were reasonable proposals, supported by the general public and in conformity with the law, well think again.
The general public didn't even know about most of these new and increased fees until they were a done deal, even though public support is required by law.  
Here are just a few of the problems.
  • Meetings have ALL been held on weekdays, during the day.
  • Meetings have been held by teleconference, and email meetings are authorized.
  • Many of the meetings have never been publicly announced at all.
  • Meeting dates and times have been changed at the last minute.
  • Agendas have not been made available in advance.
  • Agenda items have been added at the last minute without public notice.
  • RecRACs have been asked - and have agreed - to "pre-approve" fee increases up to a certain percentage.
  • Comments sent in about fee proposals by the public have been withheld from, or misrepresented to, the RecRAC members by agency spokespersons.
  • Minutes of meetings have not been posted for months, or not posted at all.
“Should we close our national parks?”
Written by Guest: Michael Frome   
Friday, 01 August 2008

 “Should we close our national parks?” 

The late Bernard DeVoto asked this question in a powerful essay published in 1953. I don’t believe that he really meant to lock the gate and throw the keys away, but rather to awaken the public to the critical, serious issues the parks faced at that time in history.
I feel the same question should be asked today. If anything, the issues are more critical now than in DeVoto’s day, half a century ago.
Consider that in 1992 the University of Arizona Press published my book, Regreening the National Parks, and now I am working on a new updated edition. Virtually all my research and continued study show that our treasured national parks have suffered from political interference and profiteering power, and are being reduced to commercialized popcorn playgrounds.
I hope that I can help to reverse this course and restore the esteem our national parks deserve. Toward that end I invite and welcome your input on how you see the parks, with their pluses and minuses, and your suggestions on how to best protect and manage them in the public interest. But first, this evidence:
Olympic National Park, Washington. After seven years in the making, the park has released its final General Management Plan (GMP), covering 900 pages in two volumes, and meant to guide park management for the next 20 years. A critique in the newsletter of Olympic Park Associates, the citizen group of the region, notes: “It takes some positive steps toward ecosystem protection. But despite the urging of conservationists, it tends to be overly focused on motorized use and presents a timid approach to preserving the wilderness integrity of this world-class park.”
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has before it a brief filed by a citizen coalition challenging the park’s Colorado River Management Plan as heavily weighted in favor of motorized tour boats and helicopter exchanges. The lawsuit contends those uses in the river corridor fail to preserve wilderness values, and fail to protect the Grand Canyon’s natural soundscape in violation of the NPS 1916 Organic Act. It challenges commercialization of the river in favor of concession craft while severely limiting self-guided river runners.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina-Tennessee. Conservation organizations early in July conducted a press conference in Knoxville to protest the Bush administration proposed change in EPA regulations that would result in worsening air pollution. The rule change would alter power-plant emission-reporting requirements in a way that would lead to serious underestimates of pollution increases in the park. It would make it easier for new coal-fired power plants to gain approval, and six such plants have been proposed within a 200-mile radius of the park. Great Smokies already is the most heavily polluted national park.
Yellowstone National Park, Montana-Idaho-Wyoming. “From mid-December to mid-March Yellowstone bans automobiles from most of the park, but it welcomes snowmobiles on 189 miles of snow-covered roads. One of these machines can emit as many hydrocarbons as 250 cars – and there are about 80,000 snowmobiles in the park each season. Park employees complain of headaches, nausea and throat irritation from the pollution, and fresh air has to be pumped into park entrance booths. The Bluewater Network, leader of the national campaign to keep snowmobiles out of the park, calculates that in addition to fouling the air, two-stroke snowmobile engines dump 180,000 to 210,000 gallons of unburned gasoline and motor oil on Yellowstone’s ecosystem each season.” – Ted Williams, Forest Magazine, Summer 2008.


Laverty Era Audit
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 15 July 2008

In April 2007, I titled a post "Laverty the Disaster" and concluded it with this warning:

I believe the President's selection of Lyle Laverty for the #3 position within the Department of Interior represents just about the worst possible choice. "Disaster" does not begin to describe what we can expect if he is confirmed.

Pasted below is an article from today's Rocky Mountain News about a newly completed audit of Colorado Parks as it had operated under Laverty's leadership.

Here's the bottom line of that audit.

 "There is a pervasive, long-standing culture of abuse, waste and loss," said Jennifer Harmon, a legislative auditor. "It needs a complete turnaround."

Today the Department of Interior needs a complete turnaround and a fresh start. The same thing can be said about the Legislature, the Judiciary the Executive Office, the National Park Service, the US Forest Service and a lot more. The appended article suggests: ".... it's like the inmates are in control." I'd suggest that many of those now in control should rightly be inmates.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 July 2008 )
What's one fee-free day going to accomplish?
Written by Scott Silver   
Monday, 14 July 2008

The hypocrisy-laden, cynical gesture by Florida's State Park system described below requires no more of an introduction that this.


--- begin quoted ---

Florida waives park admissions fees on Sunday

July 11, 2008

MIAMI --  Florida's state parks are offering free admission on Sunday to celebrate "Recreation and Parks Month."

State officials hope this will encourage parents to peel their children away from televisions and computers, and expose them to the great outdoors.

Florida State Parks director Mike Bullock says children benefit from playing and developing a healthy relationship with nature.

The Sunshine State has 161 state parks.

Last Updated ( Monday, 14 July 2008 )
Is Wilderness really a "dead idea"?
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 10 July 2008

On an environmental listserv someone today wrote:

Sustainability (and wilderness, for that matter) are dead ideas. Say goodbye to them. All ecosystems, in 100 years, are moving ~100 - 150 miles north or an equivalent up ...

To which I'd like to respond.
I agree that the ecology of designated Wilderness areas is subject to change (perhaps radical change), but strongly disagree with the claim that wilderness is "a dead idea." 
With regard to "sustainability", that politically motivated frame was invented in the 70s as an ecological analogue of the "New Deal." It was a compromise intended to sustain capitalism during a period of intense environmental attack and to avoid taking meaningful actions on such growth-unfriendly issues as population control and over consumption. The hope was that by working within the system (as contrasted to opposing it or trying to modify it), the conservation community could take the hard edge off unlimited growth and spare the planet the worst of its impacts.
Contrary to anyone's assessment that the concept of sustainability is dead, I suggest that few who possess power or influence will be kissing that idea farewell anytime soon. The decades old concepts of sustainable growth and sustainable development are about to blossom and the result will be unnecessarily extreme and disastrous overshoots on numerous fronts.   


Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 July 2008 )
We're Fattening Our Kids for Money
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 09 July 2008

Following the PR-frame created by the recreation/tourism industry, public land managers are aggressively promoting  "the Great Outdoors" as being a vital weapon in the "War on Childhood Obesity." The theory (or should I say, "the spin") is that with proper marketing and  private investment, nature can be remade into something sufficiently enticing to lure children from their couches and game consoles. Of course, it won't any longer be "nature" but, as the recreation/tourism industry never stops saying, children don't really like or appreciate nature . As the industry has been saying for nearly three decades,  "the Great Outdoors" must be transformed into something relevant to today's youth. In reality, and as I have said for a more than a decade,  the recreation/tourism is using children in their effort takeover control of outdoor recreation on the public lands.

Curiously enough, the recreation/tourism  lobbied  hard to erect the recreation fee barrier between children and nature. Without the ability to charge and retain fees for recreation on federally managed public lands, the industry could never hope to profit from the transformation of nature into a venue for the consumption of wreckreational products, goods and service.

The result, of course, has been the growing disconnect between children and nature and perhaps even some proportion of the childhood obesity epidemic. I would be giving  too much credibility to the recreation/tourism industry's spin if I were to suggest that there is more that a minor correlation between childhood obesity and the National Parks and forests. There are many factors involved and a much greater contributor to this problem is pay-to-play as applied to school sports!

In the USA, the response to this crisis has been to erect higher economic barriers. The governmental response has been to make public lands and public schools LESS public. The consequence has been that fewer children are getting exercise in natural, urban, and school settings.

Fortunately there are parts of the world where such idiocy is being questioned. Pasted below is an article from Canada in which the correct connections are drawn.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 July 2008 )
Le's Privatize California's State Parks
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 01 July 2008

 "[There are] ways to trim a bloated, deficit-ridden state government budget. One would be to make many agencies and commissions self-supporting through user fees; another would be to eliminate useless agencies and commissions altogether", or so says the Libertarian Party of California in a recent article condensed below.

In 1981, the Libertarian James P. Beckwith Jr., writing for the Cato Institute, laid out a series of privatization protocols in a publication titled "Parks, Property Rights, and the Possibilities of the Private Law." He suggested that outright sale of parks was too radical a concept for the short term. He proposed instead an orderly progression that would eventually (in perhaps two or three decades) get to the desired endpoint. Here's a passage from his introduction to that seminal paper:

The organizing principle of this paper is one of ascending radicalism: from reform through volunteerism and privatization of services to the outright abolition of public ownership and the transfer of the parks to private parties.

Today we find that the ground work has been done. The privatization tools and techniques laid out by Beckwith are commonplace and widely accepted. Today the second in command of the Department of Interior is a Libertarian with the stature of Beckwith himself.

Articles such as the one which follows, appear in publications each week. I've condensed this one to narrow the focus specifically to the privatization of parks. Appreciate, however, that what is at stake is the privatization of everything and understand that what was, during the Reagan Era, looked upon as being too radical to be considered, is being considered (and acted upon) daily. Most of all, understand that user-fees are a step (a crucial step) on the path leading to sale/disposal.


Learn more:

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 July 2008 )
Solidarity or Bust
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 01 July 2008

What follows is a comment letter sent to the Supervisor of the Shawnee National Forest.

Hurston A. Nicholas, Forest Supervisor
Shawnee National Forest
RE: Shawnee Recreation Fee Comments

Dear Mr. Nicholas,
I can't recall having been to the Shawnee NF and the way things are going, it's possible I may never get there.  That said, I'd like to keep the option open and have interest in the forest under your supervision.
There was a time when I avidly explored our public lands. I did so with the hope and expectation that I'd be pleasantly surprised with what I'd discover.
Between 1991 and 1994, I slept more than 500 nights with my back upon the ground at National Parks and upon other public lands from coast to other (and most points in between). My then infant son, grew up in a tent. He did not suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder and did not need the FS's More Kids in the Woods marketing promotion.
Shortly after the imposition of the Recreation Fee Demonstration program I became, in effect, a homebody and my son (now in college) has almost no interaction with nature or with the lands upon which he grew up.
Once the FS got into the swing of charging fees, raising fees and treating outdoor recreation as if it was a commodity to be marketed and sold to paying customers, my expectation of a visit to the National Forest inverted. No longer did I set out into the woods with the expectation of experiencing some unknown delight.
In the new pay-to-play world my expectation was that of fear -- fear that I'd be disappointed. My fear was that I'd chance upon some wonderful place and would be prevented from getting out of my vehicle because I would not pay the fees. I would not pay those fees on moral principles, because I know the extremist Libertarian ideology that went into the fee program and because the organization for which I have served as Executive Director since 1991 is staunchly opposed to the commercialization, privatization and motorization of public lands -- three threats all directly related to pay-to-play.
The approaching Rec-Fee endgame
Written by Scott Silver   
Monday, 30 June 2008

Daily progress is being made in the ongoing fight to end pay-to-play on the national forests and today I have good news to share. That said, I almost chose not to distribute the appended article because, in addition to reporting the news, it is larded with Forest Service misdirection. It concerns me that as Congress moves toward repeal of the Forest Service's fee-charging authority, the agency will likely respond with outright lies and deliberate deceptions.  Sorting fact from fantasy will become evermore difficult and your help will be vital in the task of grounding the issue to bedrock realities.

Eight years ago I wrote an essay titled, What would Thoreau say?  I'm providing a passage here and encourage you to read the entire, 650 word, piece.  It presents truths to which land management agencies have no honest rebuttal.

[As the cost of recreation rises toward its free-market potential, private sector investors will be encouraged to develop, through private/ public partnerships with federal agencies, an ever-wider array of commercialized recreation products. We, the customers, will be given the opportunity to purchase or to forgo these products in accordance with our willingness and/or our ability to pay. These newly created commodities will encompass not only those nature-based recreational activities that we have traditionally enjoyed on public lands. They will also include entirely new, and far more profitable, forms of 'eco-tainment', 'edu-tainment' and 'wreckre-tainment'. The result will be the Corporate Takeover of Nature and the Disneyfication of the wild.]

Regardless of anything the Forest Service says to the contrary this is, what Thoreau would call, "the hard bottom of rocks."


"Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe...till we come to the hard bottom of rocks in place, which we can call reality."
      -Henry David Thoreau 
Last Updated ( Monday, 30 June 2008 )
Two Takes on Badlands Wilderness
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 20 June 2008

I know the 'Badlands' east of Bend well. Our Senator, Ron Wyden, is currently working to designate this area as 'Wilderness' and our town is heavily festooned with bright yellow lawn signs that loudly proclaim  - "Protect Badlands Wilderness".
Wild Wilderness chose not to take any position until we could read the language of the bill. Now that it's been introduced and having read it, it's my opinion that this bill is much improved compared to the Badlands legislation introduced two years ago. That said, I am not yet displaying a yellow sign in my front yard.
A decade ago, I wouldn't have hesitated to support just about any new Wilderness proposal. Today one can't ignore the fact that just because an area is designated as Wilderness doesn't ensure that the wildness of the place will be preserved. If one wants to get a clearer sense of how an area will likely be managed once designated, it's important to read the bill with care and to pay close attention to the associated buzz.
Appended are two items of buzz. The first  is a quote from Senator Wyden. The second is a online reader's comment to an article that appeared in our alternative media. I don't know the author, but knowing what I do about the Forest Service, the BLM, our local politicians, visitor's bureau and land managers, I appreciate the points he makes.


Do you own a boat?
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Do own a boat? Several boats, perhaps? How about a toy boat?

My wife, son and I own a motorized dingy.  We pay a registration fee for this boat, though there are years when it never sees the water. We're OK with that. We purchased this boat knowing it would need to be registered.

We also own three kayaks, an inflatable canoe and a small raft like the one picture here. These boats were cheap to purchase and none of them requires payment of a registration fee. That may soon change and I have a real problem with that!

Imagine having to pay an annual registration fee on that inflatable you purchased for the kids or on the old canoe you keep behind the garage in case friends come visiting.

Appended is an article about efforts to require the registration of non-motorized boats in Idaho, one of several states now considering similar fees.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 June 2008 )
Newberry Entrance Station - Legal or Not?
Written by Scott Silver   
Monday, 16 June 2008

The US Forest Service lost the authority to charge entrance fees in late 2004 when the recreation fee demonstration program was repealed and previous fee authority was replaced with the newly passed, and more restrictive,  Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement (FLREA).

Whereas under the authority of fee-demo, the Forest Service had almost unrestricted ability to charge fees of all kinds, here's what the language of the FLREA to says on this topic.

(2) PROHIBITED SITES.--The Secretary shall not charge an entrance fee for Federal recreational lands and waters managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, or the Forest Service.

So, now knowing that the USFS may not charge an entrance fee, have a look at this one minute-long video taken at a USFS entrance fee station on the Deschutes National Forest.


The USFS is breaking the law. If challenged they would claim that what you saw in the video is not an "Entrance Station." They would claim that this is a convenience station and that they are making it easy for visitors who want to purchase recreation passes, to do so.

If a federal judge (or perhaps a Senator or Congressman)  were to watch this video, do you suppose the USFS could get away with such a bogus claim??


Last Updated ( Monday, 16 June 2008 )
One Truth or Two
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Those who believe in the US Forest Service and have faith in them -- are will likely see one thing in the appended News Release.

Those who do not believe in the Forest Service, those who have lost all faith in that agency, and those who are familiar with the American Recreation Coalition as a black-hat, anti-environmental lobby group shamelessly exploiting the issue of "kids in nature" as a vehicle with which to further commercialize, privatize and motorize our National Forests, will likely to see something entirely different.

Is there a right and a wrong interpretation for the appended News Release?


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 June 2008 )
ACTION ALERT: Congressional Hearing Scheduled
Written by Kitty Benzar - Western Slope No Fee Coalition   
Thursday, 05 June 2008

Fee Alert!

A congressional hearing has been scheduled in Washington DC for Wednesday June 18th at 10am EDT, on public lands access fees.

Your comments are needed and may be emailed directly to the House's National Parks, Forests and Public Lands subcommittee for inclusion as testimony in the official record of the hearing.

Below you will find background information, some points to include in your comments, the format required, and the email address to send them to. There is also a sample letter to fax to Subcommittee members requesting their attendance at the hearing.

You can also watch the hearing live on your computer, on June 18th! Information about the live webcast will be posted at the Subcommittee website.



Industry and Government launch "Get Outdoors Day" Partnership
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 03 June 2008

The American Recreation Coalition and the Forest Service have partnered up yet again. As part of ARC's upcoming Great Outdoors Lobby Week, on June 14th in Washington DC they will launch "National Get Outdoors Day". Many will see only the mask.

So let me be plain about this.  Public lands recreation policy was captured by the ARC in the early 90s and the USFS dances to the industry's drum beat.   The ARC is anathema to the cause of Wild Wilderness and our respect for the USFS is at a nadir. This new public-private campaign puts a smiley-faced mask in front of ARC's ugly face. I'm asking people to look behind the mask.

National Get Outdoors Day is the latest PR campaign of an unholy public-private alliance. The mission of the campaign has little to do with its stated purpose.

During Great Outdoors Week, ARC's wreckreation lobbyists will push their commercialization, privatization, motorization agenda. They will bestow honors upon federal employees who have served them unusually well. This year's recipient of their highest honor will be Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

Now with that introduction, please browse the list of organizations that have lined up in support National Get Outdoors Day (see below). On it you will find several of ARC's closest allies such as National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, Americans for Responsible Recreational Access, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, ReserveAmerica, National Ski Areas Association and Tread Lightly. You will also find the names of all of this nation's federal public land management agencies.

You will also find on this same list the names of organizations not normally associated with anti-environmental causes.  Have some these organizations made a mistake? Or are some of us possibly mistaken in our own estimation of some of these groups??


PS... I encourage people to go to the official National Get Outdoors Day website   and to click upon the link at the bottom of the page — the link which says "Brought to you by..."

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 June 2008 )
Mt Lemmon/Mt Evans Class Action Suits
Written by Kitty Benzar, Western Slope No Fee Coalition   
Tuesday, 03 June 2008

Dear Public Lands Supporter:

The two class action lawsuits filed on May 5 against the Forest Service in Arizona and Colorado are starting to draw media attention. Pasted below is one of the best, from the Tucson Weekly.

These are groundbreaking cases that seek to show the Forest Service has far exceeded its legal authority in the way it has implemented the fee programs at Mt Evans and Mt Lemmon. There are many more fee programs that are similar, and these cases will have an impact nationwide.

Thanks to those who have made donations to WSNFC earmarked for this effort, and please keep them coming. Donation info at our website.

Kitty Benzar, President
Western Slope No Fee Coalition

Can you see the similarities?
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 23 May 2008


Forest Fees were in 1997 an isolated example of the neoliberal privatization agenda at work. Few of the people with whom I then communicated even knew there was such a thing as a 'privatization agenda' or that the intended outcome was what one might reasonably call, "the Corporate Takeover of Everything". Many doubted the very existence of such an agenda. And while a decade ago the privatization agenda was already (albeit only conceptually) broad-based and far-reaching, examples of its implementation were comparatively few and far between.

Starting a decade ago, I focused attention upon what I called "The Corporate Takeover of Nature" while  trying to raise general awareness for the larger issue of which recreation user fees and the associated Disneyfication of outdoor recreation were merely a small component.

Today examples abound. The tools and techniques that were pioneered and perfected with the Forest Fees/privatization experiment are being employed cookie-cutter fashion. Today the agenda can be observed everywhere and the takeover of everything is proceeding at warp speed and largely unchecked.

Appended is an Op-Ed from the Chicago Tribune which explores "solutions" to the growing problems associated with air travel. I share it in an effort to present an nearly perfect translation of Forest Privatization tools into Travel Privatization tools.

Those familiar with the privatization of outdoor recreation will see the incredible similarities -- similarities that extend right down to the fine details of technique. Those unfamiliar with the issue are invited to visit the website of the organization that claims to have invented the very word "privatization. The address is www.privatization.org --- and YES, these folks also lay claim to Forest Fees.

I'd just add that in the appended article, the $15 bag fee is of little importance. Focus your attention upon that fee and you'll miss the story completely. The guts of this article are found in what are presented as "long term" answers.


Last Updated ( Friday, 23 May 2008 )
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