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Clouds of Commerce
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 23 May 2008

Advertisers have no manners, zero regard for privacy and absolutely no respect for the sanctity of unmolested public space. They'll hit potential customers anywhere they can and are always searching for new ways to do so. 

I can remember going to the ocean as a kid in the '50s and seeing banners towed behind airplanes as well as ads written in the sky by slow flying smoker-writers. Today machine emboss mile-long messages into the coastal sand while advertising entrepreneurs work out the details of casting brand logos upon the Moon.

While we wait for the arrival of the Moon Swoosh, you might be interesting to know that the invasion of the Flogos has already begun.

As the appended article asks:

[Imagine getting up in the morning, taking your cup of coffee and morning paper out to the porch or deck for a few minutes of peace, and, instead of starting the day under God’s pristine sky, you look up and see it’s filled with Mickey Mouses or little purple pills or Nike Swooshes or political ads. … The possibilities are as limitless as they are dismaying.]


QUESTION:

Should there be laws to protect at least some spaces from advertising, or should every inch of this planet (and beyond) be fair game to advertisers?

COMMENT:

Until recently, the US Forest Service did not permit advertising within our National Forests. Sadly, the agency caved to pressure from the ski industry.

Scott

Learn more at the Flogos homepage http://www.flogos.net

Last Updated ( Friday, 23 May 2008 )
 
Utah Bill - A pig with lipstick
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 17 April 2008

In yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune, Tom Wharton's appeared under the headline "Public-lands bill may look better, but it's still a pig." His column is about Utah's proposed "Washington County Growth & Conservation Act of 2008" — a wilderness bill cut from shoddy cloth — and what, until recently, would have been deemed "unusually shoddy cloth." Unfortunately, our standards have fallen so low there is little that is unusual about this particular pig. Wharton focuses his attention upon land sale provisions within this so-called "Wilderness" bill. He calls upon the conservation community and specifically upon 'national environmental groups' to oppose this bill. Wild Wilderness is with Wharton.

I'd like to add one thought not mentioned by Wharton. As a direct consequence of the Milton Friedmanesque 'Shock Doctrine' and the economic crisis now being inflicted upon the citizens of America by our elected leaders, we will soon be asked to sell off and/or privatize virtually every asset held in common, including our public lands. In that regard, America stands poised to become the next Pinochet's Chile.

Some will say, "nonsense, that will never happen." Others will say, "well perhaps just a little privatization would be okay, so long as the price is right and the money is well spent".

To both groups, I offer this thought:

At a fancy London dinner party, George Bernard Shaw is reputed to have asked Lady Astor, in front of others, if she would spend the night with him for a million pounds.

"Why yes Mr. Shaw, I suppose I would," she replied.

To which Shaw responded: "Well then, how about five pounds?"

"Mr. Shaw," the suddenly indignant Madame Astor retorted. "What do you think I am?"

"I've established that," Shaw replied. "What I am trying to establish now is the price."

With the era of mass, wholesale, privatization of America and its heritage laying before us, now is not the time for conservationists to be stepping onto this avalanche slope.  Or to use a different metaphor, now is not the time to be distracted with the temptation to pinch pawns -- not when we are threatened with almost imminent check-mate.

Scott 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 April 2008 )
 
Profitable? It's not Disneyland.
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 15 April 2008

I've posted below a column from the Idaho Statesman written by their outdoor writer, Pete Zimowsky. Zimo has been reporting upon the recreation fee issue for years and, by and large, he gets it. Don't you wish the outdoor writer with your local newspaper got it? Try to imagine what would be possible if newspapers all across the country were printing columns similar to the one which appears below.
Perhaps all that is required is for you and others who already get it to contact your newspaper's outdoor writer and help him or her understand why, as the headline of this reads: "The commercialization of public lands has to stop."

As for Zimo's remark "it's not Disneyland", let me remind everyone that while public lands are not yet Disneylands, the intended result of pay-to-play is, and has always been, "The Corporate Takeover of Nature and the Disneyfication of the Wild."

Scott

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 April 2008 )
 
Privatization Acceleration to cause whiplash
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 09 April 2008

Quoted from appended article from the New jersey press about proposed park privatization:

"Privatization doesn't usually help the parks.  It does, however, often result in higher fees and less service"

I would have put it more strongly than the Sierra Club spokesperson, whose words I've quoted.

Privatization of public parks is never in the public interest and, except for the fact that the public parks have been raising recreation fees so as to reduce to zero the price differential between public and private alternatives, privatization will always result in higher fees for access and use.

I would have also reminded my readers that for the next many years, if not decades, the anticipated consequence of the current financial meltdown will be the privatization of everything that is currently public and which might conceivably be profitably held or operated by the private sector.

Everything is at risk.

Price will be no object. The price of everything public will be slashed as much as is required to facilitate resource disposal.

Credit will be no object. Credit will be available to every would be privatizer willing to take public resources off the public's hands.

Users fees will be no object. The price of access will be adjusted upward until a sweet-spot is found such that the fewest visitors can be served at the highest possible rate of economic return. 

And finally, I'd like to state emphatically that the current state of affairs to which we have now arrived is NOT George Bush's doing.  'Sure', it was President Bush who broke the bank with his failed policies and failed presidency. And 'yes', it will be a long time before America can dig itself out of the hole into which Bush has deposited it.  But the pressure to reduce to private ownership and/or management, everything that was once public has been more than three decades in coming.

If public pushback does not begin pretty damned quickly and if that pushback is not more aggressive than is the push to privatize, then the rate of privatization that will be seen in the months and years ahead will likely give you whiplash.

Scott

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 April 2008 )
 
Compromise not option on proposed wilderness
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 02 April 2008

The headline given to the appended Op-Ed was "Compromise not option on proposed wilderness." The author is adamant in his position and states it in three words "No Wilderness, period." I am not sharing this for it's rant value. I am sharing it because, it is so incredibly uncommon to see "compromise" taken off the table.

The writer of this Op-Ed states:

[ We are told that even if they become wilderness, we will still be able to snowmobile and ride ATVs, mountain bikes, dirt bikes and generally enjoy our recreation essentially unchanged. Wanna bet? ]

Did someone really say that after these areas became Wilderness, snowmobiling, dirt biking etc. would remain accepted uses? Perhaps he's making part that up. Or, perhaps, those who are promoting this Wilderness Bill have really offered that compromise as a price they are willing to pay in order to get their bill passed.
I'm sharing this piece because it offers an uncommon perspective on the subject of compromise in relationship to Wilderness designation and, by extension,  Wilderness management.

I'd grown tired of hearing only the cry coming from my fellow conservationists saying we all must compromise, compromise and keep compromising until Wilderness-haters find it worth their while to abandon their principles and clinch the deal.

Scott 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 April 2008 )
 
Hybrids Skiers and the Redneck Environmentalist
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 01 April 2008
As a devout backcountry skier,  I find that as much as I have reason to take offense with snowmobiles and those who ride 'em, I find hybrid skiers do more harm. Whereas the presence of snowmobiles makes travel through the front country less enjoyable (if not downright unpleasant), the hybrids both contribute to that frontcountry problem and, more importantly, they push the backcountry beyond the reach of those of us who do not use snowmobile assist.  They also tend to be active supporters of snowmobilers when there are issues of user-conflict in need of resolution. For them, there is no conflict. They snowmobile with the snowmobilers, then share what once was genuine backcountry with themselves — or with the devout backcountry skier who having earned his turns and his solitude, finds that the traditional backcountry has become someone else's frontcountry playground.
 
Pasted below is an Op-Ed that appears in the current edition of High Country News. The author wants us to accept him as a not so bad guy who, after all, shares many views with environmentalists even if he loves Thrillcraft.
 
Hard as I tried, I could not find even a shred of commonality between his world outlook and my own. On the contrary, I find it easier to respect old fashioned motorhead rednecks than I to respect, or even take seriously, those who think believe they have a foot in each camp.  One of 'em is internally consistent.
 
Scott
 
PS... Click on the photo to explore the opposite point of view.



 
Thoughts on the Merced River Ruling
Written by Scott Silver   
Saturday, 29 March 2008

Yesterday I offered my congratulations to those dedicated, public-spirited activists who insisted that the National Park Service comply with environmental laws and manage Yosemite Valley and the Merced River corridor appropriately.

For almost a decade, Friends of Yosemite Valley (FoYV) and Mariposans for Environmentally Responsible Growth (MERG) have defended the public's interests against repeated assaults by the NPS. The courts have confirmed and reaffirmed the correctness of their position. With the decision handed down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, there can be no lingering doubt who was right and who was wrong.

The ramifications of this case are enormous. The Court in effect ruled that the "Wild and Scenic Rivers Act" of 1968 (WSRA) has teeth and that the English language meaning of the words of this act can not be ignored. The law can not be ignored by the NPS in relation to the Merced River. The law can not be ignored by other land management agencies in relation to other designated Wild and Scenic rivers.

Amongst other things the WSRA requires that the river corridor must be adequate protected, that the outstandingly remarkable values (ORVs) must be preserved, that a Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) be written and adhered to and that the kinds and amounts of public use that can be sustained without adversely impacting the resource be established, monitored and enforced.

As I said, the ramifications are enormous.

<CONTINUES>

 
Big Win for Yosemite Protection
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 28 March 2008

Congratulations are in order for everyone associated with yesterday's big win for Yosemite National Park.

Yesterday, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeal dismissed the National Park Service's appeal of a 2006 decision that had found the agency deficient in their plans to protect, and appropriately manage, the Wild and Scenic Merced River. Quoting from the appended article as it appeared in today's San Francisco Chronicle,

[The plaintiffs were led by a local organization called Friends of Yosemite Valley, which said the government's plans would lead to commercialization of the park and turn it into a playground mainly for wealthy lodgers, people driving recreational vehicles and visitors arriving in tour buses...

The federal agency "has failed to take the steps necessary to make sure the river is given as much attention as the concessionaires' profits," said Peter Frost, attorney for American Rivers, a conservation group that sided with the plaintiffs.]

Today's Park Service managers have come to see themselves as just another cog in the global tourism industry. They act as if charged with the task of facilitating ever-more commercialization, privatization and motorization of America's Crown Jewels.

The Park Service caters to the wants and whims of the travel industry, the recreation vehicle industry and commercial outfitters. They've done so for decades, and things have gone from bad to worse since Congress, in 1996, passed the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program  and, by so doing, gave the Park Service financial incentive to harm the lands entrusted to their care.

The Department of Interior threw at this case every high powered lawyer at their disposal. Even so, a small group of magnificent grassroots activists and environmental lawyers prevailed. Their win is our win. They won this case for Yosemite, for you, for me and for future generations.

The court's ruling is available HERE.
Scott

"Yosemite should be a nature center, not a profit."
-David Brower
(a staunch supporter of Friends of Yosemite Valley
and of their efforts to protect the park.) 
Last Updated ( Saturday, 29 March 2008 )
 
Letting the market drive privatization
Written by Scott Silver   
Monday, 24 March 2008

I have frequently likened the issues of road-tolling and recreation fees as well as the concepts of "congestion pricing" with recreation "differential pricing". I have claimed countless times that very purpose for the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program  was to commercialize, privatize and motorize our public lands.

What I have never stated is that the purpose of Road-Tolling is also to commercialize, privatize and motorize.  Perhaps I never stated that because it was so obvious. Then again, for a decade now, I've believed that the recreation fee issue was equally obvious. I've compared these issues largely to impress upon my readers the universality of the transformation that was occurring.

Pasted below is an Op-Ed recently published by two Washington Post staff writers. The headline under which this appeared read: "Letting the market drive transportation - Bush officials criticized for privatization."

Most people get the road-tolling issue and the appended article presents the road-tolling issue. The appended article also presents recreation fee issue, albeit without ever making reference to recreation . The reader simply needs to replace all references to "road-tolling" with a recreation equivalence. It's easy -- and I invite you to try it.

Here are a few quotes from this lengthy Op-Ed. Please, at least, read them and try substituting recreation equivalences. Discover how familiar this subject really is!
  

"They have a myopic view," said Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla., ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Pricing transportation to drive down traffic may make market sense, but it harms the public, he said. "This was a country based on some system of equality. People are paying their taxes and have representation. You can't exclude them from having a fair return."

"Everything they're doing is designed to drive things to privatization," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure highways and transit subcommittee. DeFazio said the nation long ago settled that roads are public goods. "They're just trying to undo 200 years of history and go back to the Boston Post Road."

"Tyler Duvall is a little pointy-headed neocon with grand ideas about the future of transportation, and they all involve tolling," DeFazio said. "He's bright, young, energetic -- just totally wrong, and has a bizarre, neocon view of transportation."

Last month, the Government Accountability Office warned that tolls on privatized roads are typically higher than if the roads remain under public control, because of the need to generate steady profits for private investors. The report said the federal government needs to better protect the public interest.

"This is all about making money," said Frank Busalacchi, the Wisconsin transportation secretary and a member of a congressionally chartered commission that last year studied transportation funding and supported raising the gas tax. "The financiers, bankers, people coming in -- the foreign dollars coming in and buying infrastructure in this country that American people [built]."

       Scott

 
Gaining Access Into Nature Program
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 21 March 2008

Black is White. War is Peace. Loss is GAIN — and the joke is on us.

Here is an excerpted quote from the appended article which recently appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican. The complete article is appended.

If you want to bicycle, hike or watch birds in the state-run wildlife areas after April 1, it's going to cost you. Non-hunting and non-fishing visitors will have to pay to play, view and enjoy 28 wildlife, wildfowl and camping areas managed by the Department of Game and Fish, according to department spokesman Marty Frentzel. The new permit is part of the department's Gaining Access Into Nature or GAIN program.

       
Folks should understand that virtually all non-consumptive nature-based activities are currently being commodified so that they can be sold. For example, watching birds and other animals has been branded as the value-added "Watchable Wildlife" product. It was, until recently, possible to watch birds without having to pay a fee. Now to gain access one must pay a "Gaining Access Into Nature" fee.

Is this a GAIN? Does anyone believe that GAIN will promote appreciation of, respect for, and an enhanced desire to protect nature? Or do new programs such as GAIN simply put nature onto the same playing field as Disneyland and other entertainment commodities?

GAIN may be a pain but more importantly, GAIN is a LOSS.

Scott

Last Updated ( Friday, 21 March 2008 )
 
The Beast has been Starved. Now for the consequences.
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 20 March 2008

In the late 90s, I authored an essay titled, Our Public Lands: Their Working Capital. Looking back upon it today, it is almost frightening how accurately it predicted the future NOT just of public lands, but of all public assets and the delivery of virtually all public goods and services.

Pasted here is a passage from that essay followed by a passage from one of two newspaper article published today in the Boston Globe. Both were written by the same reporter and both have been condensed by me so as to draw attention to the elements of national importance. In combination they provide an up-to-the-minute update on my years-old essay.

From: Our Public Lands: Their Working Capital

In the coming debate, you will hear all about the benefits of rec-fees and glowing proclamations explaining how federal agencies have been re-invented and are now more responsive to their customers. You will hear sad tales about diminished budgets and be told that user fees will be retained locally to improve local resources. While our land-managers may continue to pay lip service to the idea of biodiversity, conservation and natural resource protection, you must understand that these agencies are being transformed into profit-driven enterprises. Foremost upon their minds are thoughts of downsizing, spinning off unprofitable assets, brand management, customer satisfaction and all the problems associated with running a profitable business. To these former bureaucrats, what were once recognized as our public lands are now considered their "working capital."

From today's Boston Globe

"Depending on the community, it's definitely coming to a crisis point," said Thomas Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, whose members are juggling rising costs, many with flatlined funding. "If you're not a crisis community, you probably will be, in short order."

The point I'd like to leave you with is that if your community is not already in crisis, it almost certainly will be in short order. The financial crisis which is about to gut the American way of life and hobble all public and social programs, isn't an accident. It is the direct result of the ideology of "Starving the Beast."

Thirty years after this ideology was presented to the American people by President Reagan, the beast has been starved and the consequences are entirely predictable. They were predicted in my 1990s essay and in the writings of many others. 

Scott 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 March 2008 )
 
Wilderness, Faustian bargains and Plan Bs
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 20 March 2008

Bill Schneider of the New West online magazine has published TWO very important articles in as many days.

Yesterday, Bill shared an internal memo from within the ranks of the Montana Wilderness Association. That memo called upon MWA to return to its roots and distance itself from positions and policies said to be overly compromising and harmful to the very purposes for which the organization existed. It called upon MWA to break free from the PEW/ Campaign for America's Wilderness orbit and to refuse to "submit to Faustian bargains in an attempt to cut across the switchbacks on our way to new wilderness."

That piece can be read here.

 Today Bill followed up with further discussion of what he refers to as "a feud between green groups." Here are a few lines quoted from that piece, to give you an idea of what it is about:

 [First, if wilderness groups can’t find enough common ground to form a unified front in the battle for Wilderness, we should just give up and go to Plan B, to be explained later in this commentary. I still can’t imagine Congress passing a true Wilderness bill with a large percentage of wilderness advocates opposing it--or to be fine-line political, not supporting it.

 Second, I probably shouldn’t call it a green group feud. It no longer seems like green vs. green; it’s more like green vs. brown, with supporters of the quid pro quo approach being brown and supporters of the save-what-we-have-left approach staying green.
]

I'd like to thank Bill for giving exposure to this issue. I'd also like to suggest to Bill and others, that there are many "Plan Bs" and no one should feel confined to select between the current "Plan A" and those few alternatives offered in Bill's article available at this link.

I'd furthermore like to suggest that those who see themselves as "green", as Bill defined above, should consider aligning themselves with the efforts of "Voices for Public Lands".  VPL is a coalition, now consisting of some 45 member organizations united in support of a set of Principles for Public Lands. VPL is prepared to challenge overly compromising Plan As and to create and advocate for, better Plan Bs, Cs and Ds.

To learn more, click here.

Scott

 
The Lowdown on Managed Recreation
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Five days ago, as quoted from a press release from National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council:

[The top executive at one of the nation's leading off-highway vehicle recreation organizations told a Congressional panel today that active management of OHV use on federal lands is working and that the closure of public lands to the millions of Americans who enjoy motorized recreation would be "a step backward.]

The testimony is important and an excerpt is appended.

Five years ago, in a message shared with the conservation community but not with the general public, I made a prediction and issued a warning. Five days ago a top executive from the motorized recreation industry confirmed the accuracy of that prediction and warning.

Here is that prediction/warning. Appended is an excerpt from the press release. My hope is that the conservation community will consider the ramifications of my warning -- now that its accuracy has been confirmed.

Scott

October 30, 2003

My take is this.

Motorized recreation WILL be more aggressively managed because that is what the motorized recreation industry WANTS.

New opportunities for managed motorized recreation will be provided by land management agencies. Public/private partnerships between land managers and motorized recreation clubs will build, maintain and operate these new ORV parks, playgrounds and trail systems. The Tread Lightly message will dominate the landscape and "responsible recreation" will dominate every discussion about recreation management. No longer will there be any debate whether motorized recreation is appropriate -- the issue will be how best to deliver motorized recreation, i.e., how best to provide this service/product.

And it should go without saying that motorized recreation will be funded predominately through grants, partnerships, volunteerism, gas-tax rebates, green-sticker fees and recreation user fees, etc...

Motorized recreation will become a heavily managed commodity which will be made available in whatever quantity the market demands.

TRUE... the amount of cross-country travel will be reduced.
TRUE... motorized play areas will be designated.
TRUE... law enforcement will increase somewhat.
TRUE... a few "outlaws" will be strung up and made examples of...

And equally true, the debate about whether motorized recreation is appropriate or not will be over.

As I see it, "managed recreation" will mean that the land managers will sell recreational access. So long as the recreation occurs within acceptable parameters it will be permitted. The more money such recreation generates, the more such recreation will be provided and the more acres of public lands will be dedicated to such uses.

So as much as I personally like the concept of managed recreation, I expect that in the hands of those land managers who are now doing the bidding of the Bush Administration and the recreation industry, "managed recreation" is not going to achieve the results any of us are hoping for.

On the contrary, I think managed recreation will simply serve to further advance the recreation industry's efforts to commercialize, privatize and motorized recreational opportunities on America's public lands. And until we confront the of pay-to-play issue and remove the financial incentives for recreation mismanagement that user-fees create, we stand no chance whatsoever of stopping this agenda. 
 
Your comments needed on commercial outfitter policy
Written by Guest George Nickas   
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
The Forest Service has extended the comment period until March 20, 2008 to submit comments on the proposed outfitter-guide rules.  Please take this opportunity to protect Wilderness from increased commercialization and harm.  The alert below contains information that can help in preparing your comments.
 
Thank much,
George




Proposed Administration Policy is a Giveaway to Commercial Outfitters and Guides

Ten years ago Senator Larry Craig of Idaho introduced legislation that constituted an incredible giveaway to the commercial outfitting industry.  The 56-page "Outfitter Policy Act," written by industry lobbyists, would have granted private property rights for outfitter permits and lowered resource protection and outfitter performance standards, while making it virtually impossible for federal agencies to enforce even the weakened rules. The bill went nowhere, nor did similar bills introduced by Sen. Craig in subsequent Congresses, but the industry didn't give up.  Instead, it turned to the Administration and its toadies in the Forest Service to get what it wanted.  The result is a recently proposed rulemaking change by the Forest Service that will give the outfitters much of what they sought at the expense of Wilderness and self-guided visitors.

Your comments are needed to help stop this destructive giveaway and protect Wilderness from exploitation.  Now is the time to stand up and protect your right to Wilderness that remains largely free of commercial enterprise and that provides outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive and unconfined recreation.

Please ACT NOW! Your comments must be received by March 20, 2008.

The myriad and seemingly small changes spread over 32 pages of the propose rules will have the cumulative effect of significantly favoring the interests of commercial outfitters over resource protection and the publics' interest.  The suggestions below will restore key provisions of current rules and help to tip the scales back in favor of protecting Wilderness and other public lands.

<CONTINUES>
 
NY Times on Rec Fees
Written by Guest Kitty Benzar   
Monday, 10 March 2008

Don't miss this article that appeared on the front page of the New York Times on Friday, March 7 under the headline:

 Recreation Fees Rising in Wake of Fires' Costs

This is the most prominent national coverage of the issue of public lands access fees to date. You will note from the headline and the opening passages that the Forest Service is now shifting the blame for access fees to the cost of firefighting. Don't be fooled by this. In the Forest Service budgeting process, fire and recreation budgets are completely separate.

The fees began long before the extreme fires of recent years. Originally, the justification was backlogged maintenance needs. Then it became reduced appropriated budgets. Now it's firefighting.

Fees have nothing to do with fire. Fee revenue has not made a dent in backlogged maintenance needs. Fees have not prevented the Forest Service from closing and decommissioning thousands of recreation sites. Fees are an issue all to themselves. The public lands agencies have become addicted to fees for their own sake, and will use any excuse to continue them.

The NY Times story is helping gain the attention of officials in Washington who have not previously focused on the fee issue. This is a perfect time to contact your elected officials in the House and Senate and ask them to support S.2438, the Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act. You can find out contact information about your elected officials at www.Senate.gov and www.House.gov . Please call, fax, or email them today.

Thanks,
Kitty Benzar, President
Western Slope No-Fee Coalition

 
Lying With Language
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 06 March 2008

George Orwell once wrote - "Omission is the most powerful form of lie" and today the US Forest Service is guilty of that lie.

Those who read Orwell's Animal Farm know how the farm animals would scratch their head in wonder as what had been clear and unambiguous Commandments written upon the barn wall seemed to change in the night.  "No animal shall sleep in a bed" became "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets".  "No animal shall kill another animal" became "No animal shall kill another animal without reason" and, most famous of all,  "All animals are equal" became "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."


The law which grants the USFS authority to charge, collect and retain recreation fees says the following:

The Secretary may use not more than an average of 15 percent of total revenues collected under this Act for administration, overhead, and indirect costs related to the recreation fee program by that Secretary.

In the appended article from yesterday's Southern Illinosian and in countless similar references, the US Forest Service is now claiming that they may use no more than 15% of total revenues collected to cover the costs of fee collection.

The difference between what the law requires and the agency's new interpretation of the law, is as great as the difference between the original Commandments and those rewritten by the pigs in the dead of night.

I encourage you to read the appended article online at the link provided and to read the comments that your fellow barnyard animials have posted.

Scott 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 06 March 2008 )
 
Big Picture Recreation - What's the Future
Written by Scott Silver   
Monday, 03 March 2008

In less than 24 hours the Forest Service staffers most directly responsible for facilitating the privatization and commercialization of outdoor recreation will gather with their industry partners.  American Recreation Coalition President,  über-lobbyist Derrick Crandall, will deliver a talk titled:  "Big Picture Recreation - What's the Future." Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey, Crandall's junior recreation partner, will deliver the keynote.

For two fun-filled days, agency personnel and industry leaders will conspire behind closed doors and a good time will be had by all. The American Public will, as always, be left out if the process entirely.

Pasted below is about all you are likely to ever know  about the 2008 Partners in Outdoor Recreation Conference which begins tomorrow in San Diego.

Do you think it important that you knew more?
Do you wish you were represented??
Do you believe you deserve to have a vote and a voice???

In 1992, speaking at the 75th Anniversary of the National Park Service conference, conservation hero Michael Frome said:

 Let us go on from this conference to rescue everything that still remains wild and to recapture a lot more that has been lost. Let us not privatize the parks with the goodies of Disneyesque "partnerships" and the strings attached to them."
             
-Michael Frome

Imagine how different the world would be if America had followed Frome's sage advice. Let us now recapture that which has been stolen from us.

Scott

Last Updated ( Monday, 03 March 2008 )
 
Public Private Partherships - Stop and Think
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 27 February 2008

GOOGLE for the terms "public/private partnership forest-service" -- and you get 90,000 hits, the first of which takes you to an exceptionally important document on the Wild Wilderness website.  

What I provided is the agreement between the American Recreation Coalition --a lobby group which, since 1979, has strived to dominate and control access to outdoor recreation-- and the USDA Forest Service, the nation's second most important provider of recreational access. The document details the Public/Private Partnership (P3) which radically, and potentially forever, changed the very nature of outdoor recreation. It transformed how citizens are treated by land managers and it is responsible for undercutting the ability of the US Forest Service to manage recreation as a public resource.

The stated purpose of this P3 is expressed as follows:

[The purpose of this Agreement is to cooperatively implement the recreation user fee demonstration project, authorized by the fiscal year 1996 Interior Appropriations measure, in order to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities on Federal public lands.]

Today, as a result of this and similar partnerships between public agencies and special interest entities, citizens are treated as mere customers/consumers and land managers have become lackeys who take orders from, and pander to,  their "partners".  Today, managers manage partnerships and privatization contracts.
The Canadians got here before us. Canadians were early adapters who, when they realized their mistake, attempted to pull back.  Yet in spite of their efforts, they continue to slip toward the brink. Appended is an article published today in the Canadian press titled "Why are we revisiting P3s?"

Whenever you hear the words Public Private Partnership -  stop and think.

Knowing how frequently you will be hearing those words, I've made quite a demand upon you. Then again, this is EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT.

Scott

PS... The USFS is the second most important provider of outdoor recreation. CLICK HERE to see what the ARC is currently (RIGHT NOW) doing with the most important provider.
 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 February 2008 )
 
Those Utah Lefties
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 13 February 2008

When I think of Utah, Salt Lake City and the Editorial Board of the SL Tribune,  I don't think of a bunch of pinko lefties.  I think of them as bedrock conservatives.  So when I read the appended editorial against Utah's proposed  legislated mass privatization of public recreation facilities and saw their impassioned outcry against excessive free-market ideology gone exceedingly wrong, I smiled.

I figured that if THEY were starting to figure out what was going on and if THEY were opposed to it, then perhaps there was hope after all.  

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE understand that just about every word in this SL Tribune editorial can, and should, be said about the privatization of recreation on federally-managed public lands. The forces as play are, near enough, identical and the issues at stake are indistinguishable.

Don't take my word to that last statement. Go to these two links
and either read to, skim to, or jump to the very last line on those pages.

Scott

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 February 2008 )
 
Special Lures for the Great Outdoors
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Pasted below is a News Release issued today by the American Recreation Coalition. It speaks of those special lures now being used by the motorized recreation industry and their federal partners to attract additional customers and to hook 'em on powerboating, houseboating, recreation trailers, ATVs and all those other marvelous products, goods and services that make spending time (and money) in the Great Outdoors so valuable ---  or is that 'profitable'?

In sharing this News Release I run the risk that some people will actually buy into these cleverly targeted Public Relations efforts. I run the risk well-meaning people simply don't know the first thing about these anti-environmental, motorized wreckreation industry players and their motives and will thus accept this News Release at face value.

I run the risk of being called an "extremist" by my usual opponents and by those of my peers who are supporting the industry's  'More Kids in the Woods' campaign and by fellow conservationists who are piggy-backing upon the Nature Deficiency Disorder / Couch Potato Kids / Declining Visitation  mania with campaigns of their own -- campaigns that offer kids a different alternative than the motorized techno-gadgetry being hyped by the ARC. These campaigns do not so much compete with the ARC as amplify the effectiveness of the ARC's master campaign --- or so I suggest.

I am prepared to take risks in my ongoing efforts to convince my peers to start calling BS on the industry's anti-environmental efforts.

Either the conservation community joins with Wild Wilderness in speaking out, or the Great Outdoors will, as I have long warned,  be radically transformed to accommodate the commercialized, privatized and motorized special interest groups and corporation who sponsored this event and who pull the strings of the land management agencies.

Scott


 
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