WILD WILDERNESS

OLD NAME: FEE DEMO IN THE NEWS

NEW NAME: RAT IN THE NEWS

There are some who would have you believe that the American public supports the recreation fee demonstration program. Pasted below are but a sampling of articles that prove otherwise.

IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT:
In late November of 2004, the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program (Fee-Demo) was replaced with a more aggressive, expanded, and generally worse program known as the "Recreation Access Tax" [ RAT ].   Fee-Demo is dead though, for now, the RAT lives on.

(NOTE: Links that are 'dead" at their original location
can generally be viewed at The WayBack Machine.)

 
List of Organizations Opposing Fee-Demo
Count as of 4/19/06 = 306

 

 

  • Is The National Park System Headed for Yard Sales?
    (Today the parks are being asked to raise fees to help cover costs (Denali National Park is considering a hike in climbing fees, many parks are hiking their entrance fees) and to reach out even more to private groups. Along that line, the Park Service has created a "senior level office of partnerships....to help parks establish partnerships to protect cultural and natural resources -- with friends groups, cooperating associations, corporations, local communities, the tourism industry and so on." So where is all this leading?)

  • Go west young person - but pay a fee
    ("As bad as the HIRA situation is, it is still only the tip of the iceberg," added Funkhouser. He noted that there are more than 3,000 former Fee Demo sites outside of HIRAs that are charging fees, even though the WSNFC's Survey Report showed that many of them are not compliant with the FLREA.)

  • Green Mountain fee increase nixed
    (Craig has been lobbied heavily by anti-fee groups including the Western Slope No Fee Coalition, which charges that the Forest Service has implemented illegal fees at numerous recreation sites without complying with the terms of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, the federal law that permanently authorized controversial public land recreation fees. According to the coalition, up to 75 percent of the fee sites are illegal.)

  • Backcountry Shakedown
    (On March 21, 2006 she'll be the first American to challenge the agency's latest revenue concoction in court. Losing might mean jail time. But a victory could spell the end of a multi-million-dollar scheme apparently forged from thin mountain air.)

  • Some say language hides park entrance fees
    (Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who held a hearing on the issue last week, said he thinks implementation of the fee program "may have gotten off on the wrong foot.")

  • Demand access to nation's wild places
    (I reject the premise that it comes down to a Hobson's choice of paying high user fees or facing restricted access. So should you. But the fact that you frame the question in those terms is further evidence that the government/recreation industry brainwashing is working. They want you to forget that you already gave at the office for your wilderness user fee - and a lot of other things you hold dear.)

  • Group Questions A.F. Canyon Fees
    (In a report on that survey released this week, the group identifies more than 300 sites where it says the agencies are violating the new law. The fee charged at the entrance to American Fork Canyon violates the new law's specific ban on entrance fees, the report said.)

  • St. Helens up for bids, as park fees jump by half
    (Ten bucks was tough to swallow. Fifteen is over the top. For many, the increasingly onerous fee - coupled with the doubling in the cost of gas to get there and back - relegates a fresh-air field day to the "Luxury Item" category.)

  • Senate to review public land fees
    (It's been nearly a year since Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, but the controversy over recreation fees on public lands shows no signs of simmering down.)

  • Can't see forest for fees?
    (Concessionaires often contract to collect the fees and run the facilities, and then pay the land-use agency a percentage. That upsets some users who not only believe that those lands should be free but also fear the "Disneyization" of federal lands, where corporate logos would adorn facilities.)

  • Fee raises hackles of park users
    ("If we allow the agencies to charge a fee or require a permit to enter these lands, then we have given ownership of the lands to the agencies and taken it away from the people.")

  • Playing and Paying
    (Motorized vehicles are an increasingly popular way for people to visit national forests. But recreational demands compete with calls to preserve the public lands, many of which require visitors to pay special fees.)

  • Guest Commentary: The truth on rec fees - Denver Post
    (If Secretary Norton and her counterparts at the Department of Agriculture are so sure that Americans are willing and anxious to pay fees to use our Forest Service and BLM lands, they should submit the idea to open public debate, congressional hearings and a recorded vote.)

  • Where do all the forest fees go?
    (The biggest item in this year's budget is $80,000 to pay employees to collect the fees; that amount is nearly 20 percent of the total collected.)

  • Coalition seeks end to RAT fee
    ("If you can get the RAT repealed, you will be a hero in Idaho and the rest of the country, too," coalition member Ken Fischman told Senator Larry Craig at at his meeting at North Idaho College in Coeur d'Alene.)

  • Activist challenges forest access fees
    (Silver said the agency created new fee sites where last year there were none, without consulting the public - a clear violation of the law.)

  • Forest Service boast is bogus, group says
    (A public-lands watchdog group says U.S. Forest Service claims it has dropped access fees at 480 sites it administered under a fee demonstration program are bogus.)

  • Herald Poll: The new entry fees
    (While the Forest Service points to overwhelmingly positive comments on the fee program, it is presenting a distorted picture. The comments come from people who are using the canyon.)

  • Fee foes keep fighting on
    ("The Forest Service has no intention of complying with the law. In fact, they are openly ignoring the new law. They're charging for sites that don't meet the requirement of the law.")

  • Forest Service nixes most rec fees but not in AF canyon (Important article!)
    ("The guidelines not only ignore the law, they flout the law," Silver said.)

  • Coalition seeking support
    (More than 50 people filled the community hall to lambaste the act, which replaces the existing Recreation Fee Demonstration Program. Critics argue RAT will lead to expanded and increased fees to access federally managed public lands.)

  • Eradicate the sneaky RAT on public lands
    (What do you call a law that was never introduced, never had hearings, never was voted on, but was passed anyway? Unfair? Undemocratic? That is the story behind the Recreation Enhancement Act, better known to its opponents as the Recreation Access Tax, or RAT.)

  • Editorial - Good riddance to onerous Forest Service fees, Idaho Mt. Express
    (The end of fees at trailheads without services is a good first step toward a return to fairness. The next step? Adequate federal funding for public lands agencies to ensure access for all Americans.)

  • Many Forest Service fees disappear
    (Interior and Forest Service officials acknowledged that the fees - instituted on a trial basis in 1996 and renewed every two years since - are unpopular.)

  • Now see the forest for no fees
    ("Here in Georgia, we've had very good acceptance of the fee system, but out West there was a lot of opposition to the whole idea of charging fees on public land.")

  • Los Padres reduces area requiring Adventure Pass
    (Coyne and other groups opposing the Adventure Pass have said they believe the Forest Service is too broadly interpreting the law, which allows them to charge a fee for heavily used areas and places with amenities such as toilets, picnic tables and trash cans.)

  • Forest Service eliminates charge for remote areas
    (...long-standing opposition led Congress last year to eliminate the fee in many locations, and to define more clearly where fees could be imposed.)

  • Forest Service tweaks fee program in Northern Region
    (some critics say... the Forest Service imposed fees at relatively primitive locations put some recreation seekers at risk of being priced out.)

  • More of ANF to be Open Without Fees
    ("It's about time they should get rid of it. People shouldn't have to pay for natural resources that are open to all the citizens of the U.S.")

  • Editorial - This land is yours again as trailhead fees fall away - Times News
    (For more than eight years, the notion of charging the public land user for a walk through the trees and on mountain trails bristled against our public lands legacy. Sure, many land users paid for their parking pass. But under a threat of a fine or other penalty, participation was less than voluntary.)

  • Feds reduce area covered by forest recreation fees
    (Remote and seldom-used areas, as of this week, no longer require visitors to display passes in their windshields.)

  • Adventure Pass scaled back at Los Padres but not going away
    (Ever since the Forest Service implemented the fees nine years ago, a range of groups, from the Sierra Club to off-road vehicle associations, have protested charges for recreational day use of public lands.)

  • Rule eased for forest pass
    (The Forest Service announced yesterday that the controversial Adventure Pass no longer will be required in 90 percent of Southern California national forests.)

  • 75% of Angeles now free for visitors
    (Angeles spokeswoman Sherry Rollman said..."We don't expect a huge reduction in fees. At most of our high-use areas, we will still be charging our recreation fees.")

  • Forest Service ends fees for recreational areas
    ("These sites may be returned to the fee program at some time in the future if public use results in a need to further develop them and add improvements," regional forester Harv Forsgren said.)

  • Forest Service ends some recreation fees
    (The move is not enough to satisfy critics of the fees, which are levied for recreation use of public lands. The Oregon Legislature last week unanimously approved a resolution urging Congress to repeal the fees.)

  • National forest fee sites are trimmed
    ("It's a totally fictitious interpretation of the law," Silver said, "declaring all of the popular places in the Deschutes to be 'high-impact' recreation areas and continuing the fees even though they meet none of the requirements of the actual legislation. We will fight this by every means necessary to force the Forest Service to comply with the law.")

  • Group says no to 'pay to play'
    (The Idaho No-RAT (Recreation Access Tax) Coalition, which includes backcountry horsemen and environmentalists, is circulating a petition calling for the law's repeal and trying to convince state legislators to pass a resolution opposing the act.)

  • Sawtooth abolishes trailhead fees
    ("We have scrutinized our existing recreation fee program on the forest and have determined that our trailhead parking pass program does not meet the intent of the new legislation or the agency's interim implementation guidelines," said Ruth Monahan, Sawtooth National Forest supervisor.)

  • Editorial - Jury still out on forest fees - Whittier Daily News
    (If more than half the recreation budget comes from fees, there's something wrong with the basic appropriations for the forest. Clearly Congress has found a herd of cash cows, us.)

  • Fee sites dropped on road to Lemmon
    (Another six sites on the Coronado and Prescott national forests also will lose their fees because the recreation areas don't have enough amenities to justify charging visitors.)

  • Day-use fees dropped for majority of forest
    ("Freeuse of these public lands was one of the few common experiences that everyone could enjoy.")

  • Cherokee eliminating nearly half its user fees
    (According to forest service Chief Dale Bosworth, the new federal act "raises the bar" for sites to qualify for charging fees.)

  • Feds halve the cost of Maroon Bells season pass
    (Moran said the lower pass fee will not have a negative impact. "We weren't selling that many $50 passes anyway...")

  • Some U.S. Forest Service rec. fees dropped
    (The fees that are being eliminated do not meet the criteria for fees set aside in recently legislation recently passed by Congress and signed by President Bush.)

  • Deschutes ends fees at 7 sites
    (The act also prohibits officials from charging entrance fees, which is why the entrance gate at the Newberry monument will no longer sell passes.)

  • Controversial new fee gives Tongass $500,000 more to spend
    (The legislation was heavily criticized from many quarters, including Western governors and the Alaska House of Representatives, which passed a resolution against it.)

  • Under funded forests
    ("Conservatives have succeeded in convincing the public that, because of the national debt, the public can no longer enjoy the free recreational use of public lands," said Stahl, thus the institutionalization of recreation or user fees. The notion that public lands are a public commons is now history, Stahl said, replaced by "pay to play"' or temporary user fees.)

  • States tell Congress to repeal federal recreation fee
    (The fees "bear no relationship to the actual costs of recreation such as hiking, picnicking, observing wildlife or scenic driving," the resolution says, and they contradict "the idea that public lands ... are places where everyone is granted access and is welcome." )

    hiker image

  • Paying to Play
    (Ultimately, if things go according to plan, it will be the outfitters, recreation organizations and entertainment companies like Disney, who will be tomorrow's providers of memorable outdoor experiences on what once were America's public lands.)

  • Forest use fees restored ***(see paired article, below)
    (In a swift about-face, forest officials announced Friday that they are reinstating all day-use fees in the Deschutes National Forest. Officials reversed Thursday's decision to suspend day-use fees in order to remain consistent with other national forests in Oregon and Washington, according to Mark Christiansen, recreation program manager with the Deschutes National Forest.)

  • Day-use fee for forests suspended ***(see paired article, above)
    (Central Oregonians can enjoy national forest land without a pass for the next 30 to 45 days, according to a release from forest officials. Deschutes National Forest officials have decided to suspend all day-use fees until a set of new legislative rules can be applied, and are urging users to wait before buying a Northwest Forest Pass.)

  • Closing the forest?
    (Some critics say budget cuts are not the real reason the agency is reexamining its recreational use. Starving the agency of cash forces it to keep only the most lucrative sites and run public lands like a commercial enterprise, they say.)

  • Budget cuts put squeeze on recreationists
    (The erosion of money comes despite temporary user fees imposed since 1996 and extended for another 10 years under a law approved last year. The fees - typically $5 for use of marked trails and restrooms or $10 for a campsite - are expected to bring in nearly $49 million to the Forest Service this year...)

  • FS recreation sites face closures
    (A letter from former Deputy Chief Tom Thompson last week directed recreation planners to put sites through a rating system by 2007 that will assess their costs, popularity and how closely they match what each forest designates its "niche" audience. Sites ranking low on the list may be closed...)

  • Op-Ed Making Public Lands a RAT-free Zone
    (The Montana Legislature just sent the federal government another stay-out-of-my-life memo by passing a resolution demanding the repeal of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.)

  • Colorado, Montana call for repeal of federal land fees
    (By overwhelming bipartisan majorities the state legislatures of Montana and Colorado last week called on the U.S. Congress to repeal a new federal lands fee law, and Oregon appears poised to join them in the coming weeks.)

  • Editorial - State refuse to surrender on recreation access fees - Times New, ID
    (The ongoing battle between over recreational access taxes moved to a new venue last week. This time, the opposition is coming from state government. Don't be surprised if it keeps growing.)

  • Op-Ed - Can't see the forest for the fees with access tax
    (For the last 100 years, our nation has held that free access to non-park public lands should, like public schools and libraries, be a right available to all Americans. Now this seemingly sacred right has been revoked. )

  • Editorial:The hidden costs of using public lands - Denver Post
    (A state park pass costs $55, a national park pass is $50, and the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management plan to charge access fees. The layers of fees could ultimately discourage people from getting outdoors and using their public lands.)

  • Western revolution
    (House Joint Resolution 13, sponsored by Rep. Paul Clark, D-Trout Creek, demands the repeal of the misnamed Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which in the more popular vernacular is known as the Recreation Access Tax, or RAT.)

  • BOCC wants user fee bill repealed
    (In a resolution inked Monday, the Montrose County Board of County Commissioners called on Congress to repeal the controversial legislation that authorized the collection of user fees...)

  • Top Forest Service official says user fees 'here to stay'
    ("People in the West are not going to sit still to have to pay to get onto public lands, at least national forests, in my opinion, and probably BLM lands," he said. "That's a battle that's not even worth attempting.")

  • Anger Over Plan to Extend Forest Fees 10 Years
    (Then the same Ohio Congressman, Ralph Regula, who attached the fee program originally did it again to the Omnibus appropriations bill. Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio has been protesting it ever since.)

  • County to ask Congress to nix fee demo
    (La Plata County commissioners unanimously agreed Monday to ask Congress to repeal a law that authorizes federal agencies to charge for the use of recreation facilities on public lands.)

  • ODNR holds hearing on fees
    (Opponents of proposed state park fees at a hearing Saturday were thicker than mosquitoes at a campout on a hot July evening. And the fees are about as popular.)

  • Pay the fee or pay the price
    ("There are going to be complaints anywhere you start collecting fees where they haven't been," Stephens said. "But we had a long warning period. And there is plenty of signage. There is no mistaking that visitors are supposed to pay a fee.")

  • Marketing the outdoors isn't what it used to be
    (Crandall doesn't believe that he is proposing to turn forestlands into amusement parks as some environmental activists fear now that the federal government is looking to charge more recreation fees.)

  • Six truths from the wild before packing it in
    (Washington needs reminding that This Land Is Our Land. If citizens' groups don't rise up, the federal government is going to push ahead with plans to make us pay more and more for access to land we already own. Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act that was signed into law last year, the Forest Service and a handful of other agencies have a 10-year authorization to bill us for stepping into all sorts of priceless landscapes that used to be free.)

  • Editorial: Free or fee? (Corcord Monitor)
    (Defenders of the user-fee system love to point out how cheap a campsite or a day at a state park is compared to its counterpart in the private sector. The difference, of course, is that the public owns and in many cases paid for the parks. Fee systems treat them as customers, not as citizen-owners. High fees discriminate against the poor and make it too costly for many people to use a park not for a whole day but just to watch a sunset or fish for an hour or two after work.)

  • Rec fees to remain
    (He said the fee experiments, across the board, were introduced in the 1980s to allow the Forest Service and other agencies to make up lost revenue. However, he said, this is part of a larger agenda to "starve the beast" until the public service is unfunded and completely depends on user fees.)

  • Editorial: Fiscal reform is key to preserving parks (Denver Post)
    (We're concerned that if the parks become an enterprise fund, they may no longer provide the non-commercial, affordable experience they now offer. Indeed, the strategic plan envisions building rental cabins, visitors' centers, gift shops and cafes, and for parks personnel to take over some services now provided by concessionaires. The risks are that the parks could grow too expensive for low-income families, and the facilities might compete with private businesses.)

  • Fees at Sabino Canyon, other popular spots, extended for decade
    ("It's a federal park, I pay taxes for it already and I'd rather not pay again," Karson said after handing over a five-spot...)

  • Federal rec fees expected to last
    (One free market economist predicts the fees will result in better decisions on spending on public lands. Instead of government officials in Washington deciding where recreation dollars are spent, the users will decide through their fee payments...)

  • Fun's not free on federal land
    ("In a pay-to-play world, the kind of experiences traditionally enjoyed on public lands cannot compete with the resort country clubs that some people would like to see," Silver said.)

  • Higher use fees make Yosemite less attractive to day-trippers
    (Since the fee to drive a vehicle into Yosemite National Park went up to $20, the number of visitors has been dropping.)

  • Rec fees are here to stay
    ("We anticipate that across the country, there will be some existing programs that will no longer meet the criteria and won't be continued...The new legislation is actually more restrictive.")

  • Forest program is now permanent
    (The Coconino National Forest is waiting for direction from the Forest Service about its Red Rock Pass program, spokesperson Connie Birkland said. The pass basically charges a fee for people to recreate anywhere in the scenic red rock country.)

  • Federal land use fees
    (A controversial law authorizing fees for use of federal lands was passed in late November as part of a $388 billion spending bill to cover all parts of the federal government except defense, homeland security, Social Security and Medicare.)

  • One pass consolidates access fees on federal lands
    (Barna said he will be part of a multi-agency committee that will over the next few months work out the details of the bill's implementation, including what fees to keep and what price to charge for the America the Beautiful pass.)

  • EDITORIAL: Smell a RAT, anyone? We do (Telluride, CO)
    (Get ready to write, phone and e-mail members of the incoming 109th Congress to repeal the RAT. It sure smells bad.)

  • Forest-fee foes lobby against Ohio congressman
    (The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition announced Saturday that it is calling on its members and supporting organizations to oppose the selection of Congressman Ralph Regula (R-OH) as Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee when the new Congress convenes in January.)

  • Op-Ed: Why we'll pay to play)
    (That industry would much prefer we were paying to watch a movie or buying a CD, rather than engaging in some wholesome outdoor activity that we didn't pay for.)

  • EDITORIAL: Pay them now -- and later (Twin Falls, ID)
    (Today, even those who support the concept of user-based fees are unhappy with the way Congress extended the program. And those who have been skeptical about those fees all along have reason to say, "We told you so.")

  • Budget-stricken national parks losing their allure for tourists
    (Lewis is part of the Arizona No Fee Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group that opposes park fees. He wants everyone to have the chance to experience the raw glory of the Sonoran Desert. If parks shape themselves into recreation sites to attract tourists, he fears the result will be a theme park, not a wilderness park.)

  • BlueRibbon Coalition Op-Ed SUPPORTING the RAT
    (Don't be fooled by vitriol and invective in the editorial pages. The anti-fee hostility to this program rejects the chance for locally based solutions to dwindling federal recreation budgets. If you have a Recreational Fee Program that isn't working well in your area, use the provisions in the new bill to fix it. If a Fee Program is proposed in your area, look carefully at how it's structured before you oppose it. When the public learns what amenities their fees will provide, it's likely to be thought of as a good recreational value.)

  • Political Economy Research Center Op-Ed SUPPORTING the RAT
    (And it's only fair that visitors should pay to play. The chief sponsor of the Fee Demonstration bill was from Ohio. His state has few acres of federal lands, and it is no surprise that his constituents might resent paying for my recreation in Bozeman.)

  • Representative Ralph Regula SUPPORTING the RAT
    (I believe a ten-year authorization will give our federal land managers the time they need to properly implement the recreation fee program in a way that benefits all the people who choose to recreate on our federal lands. Additionally, not all federal lands will charge a recreation fee. Only those who see it as a feasible and beneficial venture will participate in the program.)

  • Ohio's Regula raises ire in West over park fees
    ([Out West] Regula has a different reputation these days among some outdoorsy types. They accuse the Republican from Navarre of using a sneaky move last month to pass legislation that will force nature lovers to "pay through the nose" for the foreseeable future to visit federally owned recreation areas.)

  • EDITORIAL: Giveaways part of omnibus bill
    (Congress should be condemned, rather than cheered, for this irresponsible and dishonest way of conducting the people's business.)

  • Latest cash cow? Your own backyard
    (On this spot, overlooking all this scenery we once considered priceless, I propose we raise a monument to the 108th U.S. Congress. A great big cash register.)

  • In Our View: Paying to Play (Columbian)
    (...federal and state governments have price lists posted and their hands out (palms up) for visitors to our great outdoors. Charging user fees is, sadly, gaining acceptance...)

  • Editorial: The missing debate
    (Republican lawmakers were wrong to sneak into the $388 billion, 3,000-plus-page spending bill that Congress approved last month a last-minute provision locking the fees in place for the next decade.)

  • Op-Ed: Sneaky Fees Stalk Public Lands
    (After a decade of paying to play, people might forget that public lands belong to all of us; that they are a birthright to protect and not a commodity that's available mainly to those who can afford it.)

  • Op-Ed: Why Citizens Should Refuse to Pay User Fees
    (Tell ARC and the likes of Regula and Disney that public lands are not for sale. And say no to this un-American fee to use our own lands.)

  • Despite opposition, forest-fees 'RAT' passes
    (Despite a last-minute outpouring of letters and phone calls and a flood of negative editorials, an Ohio congressman with no public lands in his district has forced a measure through Congress to implement permanent access fees for recreation on all land managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.)

  • Recreation fee likely to pass
    (U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., has expressed concerns about the program. He wants to keep the fees onsite and does not want to reduce people's access to public lands.)

  • Recreation fees return to Vail Pass
    (If you want to experience what using parts of the White River National Forest in Eagle County could be like in the not-so-distant future, take a look at Vail Pass in the winter - and bring your wallet.)

  • EDITORIAL: Congress takes pass at double taxation (Pasadena Star)
    (The Adventure Pass program stinks. It is double taxation, an excuse by Congress and the Department of Agriculture for not fully funding the forests with existing tax dollars. It is a way to keep poor people out of the forest. It is part of the commercialization of our public lands. It gives pay-to-play new meaning.)

  • Op-Ed: Let's stop regressive Recreation Access Tax
    (If RAT becomes law, it will become the first new tax of President Bush's second term. And it will be an extraordinarily regressive tax that hits working families the hardest.)

  • Paying Twice to Play Less: Our Great American Freedom Lost (Feature Article)
    (Perhaps we should get back to basics and heed Teddy Roosevelt: "Some at least of the forest reserves should afford perpetual protection to the native flora and fauna ... and free camping ground for the ever-increasing numbers of men and women ... set apart forever for the use and benefit of our people as a whole and not sacrificed to the shortsighted greed of a few.")

  • DeFazio says he'll fight fee extension
    ("If the agencies measure success in dollars received, then one way to demonstrate failure will come when the public chooses not to spend their dollars at those recreation sites," he said.)

  • Fee demo foes hope to sway Congress
    ("It just kills me that he (Regula) is going to push this down our throats anyway," said Benzar. "...He has a lot of nerve sitting there in Ohio, taking the whole West and making it into a theme park you have to buy a ticket to.")

  • Congress extends recreation fees for at least a decade - Associated Press
    (Those who argue that a $5 hike costs less than a movie or book miss the point, Silver said."A movie is a private good that comes from a company that produces it," he said. "The forest is our birthright. To equate the two is a false equation.")
    Alternate souces for this article include: Salt Lake Tribune, Boston Globe, Newsday, Seattle-PI and several dozen more.

  • Congress moves to clinch forest fees for next decade
    (Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., on Friday asked House Speaker Dennis Hastert to permit a separate vote on the fees. He called them a "stealth double tax for hikers, hunters, picnickers or anyone wishing to spend a day at the beach or in the forest with their family.")

  • Forest fees could be permanent
    ("(Fee-demo) failed to generate decent revenue or win the hearts and minds of the public," he said. "I think that the democratic process was perverted (by) sticking unpopular legislation with must-pass bills.")

  • Op-Ed: Kill the RAT
    (Like a diseased rodent in a shipping container, a very nasty little RAT-the acronym for the new Recreation Access Tax-was slipped into the federal Omnibus Spending Bill as a rider last weekend and the consequences are not pretty, especially for those of us living in the West.)

  • Paying to play
    (...the public shouldn't have to pay to access public land. The program basically transfers ownership of public lands from taxpayers to the agencies that manage them...)

  • Recreation Fee Passes
    (Both of Montana's senators are unhappy with the new bill -- though they voted for the larger spending measure it piggybacked -- and plan to tackle the issue again in the future.)

  • Rider on House bill could make recreation fees permanent
    ("We are well aware the current fee program is not very popular with everyone," said [Methow Valley Ranger District ranger] Newcom. "We hope that people understand that the money to support our recreation facilities has to come from some place.")

  • Ron Judd: Seattle Times Columnist
    (Is anybody really surprised? This kind of under-the-table lawmaking - championed for years by the likes of our own former Sen. Slade Gorton - is the way government business gets done in modern America.)

  • Hidden land-use fee infuriates opponents
    ([Congressman Mark] Udall... opposed the program from the beginning and advocated better funding of the Department of the Interior, the department that manages public lands, rather than adding a fee on the taxes citizens already pay.)

  • House bill would allow permanent recreation fees
    (The measure also would encourage agencies to contract with private companies and other non-governmental entities to manage public lands and enforce fee collection. The companies would get to keep a portion of the fees they collected.)

  • Forest fees to be extended
    ("Representative Regula just wants to take the tax dollars spent on public land and spend them somewhere else," says Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.). "This is just an attempt to create a new source of revenue by taxing forest users.")

  • EDITORIAL: While you were sleeping
    (People on both sides of the aisle and people who are normally on opposite sides of the land-use debate (motorized vs non-motorized) have come out vehemently against the fee-demo program as it exists now.)

  • EDITORIAL: Unfair recreation fees now law - Denver Post
    (House Speak Dennis Hastert figuratively slapped the Senate, because he never let Thomas' bill see the light of day yet let Regula slip his rider into the budget bill.)

  • 'Pay to play' to become law of the land
    (But the fee demo program, as it became known, drew plenty of fire as it was extended and expanded year by year. The most scathing critic has long been Scott Silver, the Bend, Ore., activist and founder of the anti-fee group Wild Wilderness.)

  • Canyon entrance fees extended for 10 years
    ("We are furious," said Kitty Benzar, co-founder of the Western Slope No-fee Coalition, founded three years ago to fight efforts to make the fees permanent. "We are not going to take it lying down. We are not going to accept this.")

  • 'Pay to play' to become law of the land
    ("That's no way to legislate," said Lawrence Pacheco, spokesman for U.S. Congressman Mark Udall (D-Colo.). "To stick it in a midnight rider is dirty pool." Pacheco was referring to a backroom deal that led to inclusion of Regula's fee demo measure in the spending bill.)

  • Fee Demo Program: Ominous omnibus?
    ("It's unfortunate they do it in the middle of the night, with no debate and no hearings, in the Senate, when it hasn't even passed the House floor," he said. "Omnibus bills are known for sneaky dealing, but for an issue this close to the public's heart, this is not the way to gain support from the public.")

  • Legislation would restrict national forest fee
    ("I think there will be dramatic changes," said Scott Silver, executive director for Wild Wilderness, an Oregon-based conservation group. "I would say that you have to lose your Adventure Pass." Not so, say local forest officials.)

  • Some see bright side to forest pass rule
    ("The (Forest) Service can no longer keep us out of an entire forest to enjoy a sunset," Mary Ellen Barilotti, a lawyer in Santa Barbara County who has participated in Adventure Pass litigation, said in a Tuesday letter.)

  • Public land demo fees expanded, extended
    (Sen. Bingaman feels strongly that this type of thing should go through the Energy Committee, there should be hearings and debate, and that didn't happen.")

  • EDITORIAL: Ohio rides roughshod over the West - Idaho Mt. Express
    (Regula's move was lowdown and sneaky, unworthy of any U.S. Senator. Yet, it may be a preview of what is to come in President George W. Bush's second term. To fulfill promises of continuing income tax cuts in the face of a ballooning deficit, the administration and Republican Congress will have no choice but to push new fees on everything from forests to fruitcakes. While one hand gives, the other will take away.)

  • Adventure Pass extension met with howls of disappointment
    ( Mr. Regula, they said, agreed to give Mr. Stevens funding for a road through a remote part of Alaska in exchange for allowing the recreation fee bill to be attached as a rider. An aide to Mr. Stevens on Monday, however, denied the allegation.)

  • President expected to extend forest fee
    (Silver said he expects the issue to become more contentious.)

  • Fee Demo extended 10 years
    ("Now we need to shift gears and turn our attention to resisting any further involvement of the commercialization in the national forests...")

  • EDITORIAL: USFS Adventure Pass should go - Ventura Country Star
    (Some things in life shouldn't have a price tag. A walk in the woods is one of them.)

  • Congress breathes new life into fees for forest access
    (The recreation fee program was set to expire this year and was on the ropes due to congressional inaction. But approval for the program was granted through an obscure rider attached to a massive omnibus appropriations bill that was approved Monday.)

  • Forest Service Adventure Pass revised
    (A rider on a massive budget bill Congress passed Saturday contains new rules on when money can be collected for public use of national lands. In the Angeles National Forest, fees can still be collected at picnic areas and campgrounds but not in undeveloped areas.)

  • Recreation fee in West extended
    (Congress has been extending the fees for two-year periods. Previously, it was illegal for federal agencies to charge user fees except for national parks, developed campgrounds and mechanical boat launches.)

  • Public land demo fees expanded, extended
    ("This was a victory of pork over principle," said Robert Funkhouser, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition. "Changing public land policy in the middle of the night via a rider is despicable.")

  • Forest fees extended 10 years
    ("I am deeply disappointed that the Republican leadership snuck in a 10-year extension of the Adventure Pass program without any public debate or discussion of this controversial program," said Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara. "We already pay taxes to support these public lands and we shouldn't have to pay another to get access to our own lands.")

  • Red Rock fees pass with budget
    (U.S. Rep Ralph Regula, R-Ohio, attached legislation to the budget bill to make fee demonstration projects on public lands, such as the Red Rock Pass, permanent.)

  • Recreational area fees slipped into budget bill
    (It's not unusual for lawmakers to slip unrelated legislation into such bills. But Congressman DeFazio said the fee issue is distressing because it didn't go through the full hearings process in committees.)

  • Forest fees fly anew, bringing blasts in Bend
    ("But the war is anything but over," Silver wrote. "Never doubt that the public will trump the special interests who are responsible for creating and forcing this program upon an unwilling and resentful public.")

    Holiday Coal
    Soource: Idaho Mountain Express, Artist: Gavin McNeil

     


    "Fee-Demo" Era Ends
    "RAT" Era Begins

    The Recreation Fee Demonstration Program (Fee-Demo) effectively ended on November 21, 2004 when Congress authorized the "Recreation Access Tax" (RAT) as part of an Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

    Articles listed above, date from the RAT era.

    Articles listed below, were published in the Fee-demo Era.


     

  • Rec fee plan draws praise, fire
    ("The premise of a basic fee to access public lands is abhorrent," he said. "To back that up with misdemeanors and send people to jail just for walking into the woods is a travesty.")

  • Red Rock Pass on the rocks
    (..the congressman [Renzi] does not support the Red Rock Pass, citing concerns that local residents incur the fee as well as out-of-the-area visitors.)

  • Saguaro Park to levy new fee
    (Critics of the fees say they exclude the poor, and many opponents want the government to get more money from ranchers, miners and loggers before looking to hikers, bikers and birders.)

  • Editorial: Let forest fee expire
    ("The Adventure Pass may put a few more dollars in the government's till, but we are all poorer for it.")

  • Congress: Recreation fees permanent (not really!)
    ("The Senate has already approved a bill that would authorize permanent fees in national parks only, and the two bills could potentially be merged and passed in a lame-duck session...")

  • New fee-demo bill advances to full House
    ("A House panel's voice vote Wednesday to proceed with new trail and parks fee legislation was hailed by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who voted in support, and lambasted as a failure of democracy by Bend fee foe Scott Silver, founder of Wild Wilderness.")

  • Bill may extend forest, park fees
    (The committee's top Democrat, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, complained, however, that the fees are basically tax increases that "reach into the wallet of middle-class families who are already being pinched and squeezed at every opportunity by misguided economic policies." )

  • Forest fees program revived by key committee in House
    ("The U.S. Forest Service's ability to charge controversial fees on public lands such as the Maroon Bells is at the center of a battle in Congress.")

  • Montrose Commission eyes increased tourism
    ("On a motion by Commissioner Mike McCracken, the commissioners passed a resolution opposing any extension of the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program, House Resolution 3283 and or fees associated with the America the Beautiful Pass program.")

  • Nat’l Public Lands Day Raises Questions About Fate of Federal Parks
    ("Not long ago we understood that public lands were a public good, and encouraged people to use them," said Silver. "Now we’re looking at public lands as something that can be branded and packaged and sold. Before we were in the business of maintaining resources, now we’re looking at them as prepackaged experiences with a certain value and a certain cost.")

  • Campground Showdown
    ("The American public doesn't want it all to look like national parks." Orlando says private concessionaires taking over campgrounds and Fee Demo are both institutionalizing fees and industrial recreation on all public lands.)

  • Fee-Demo Unfair
    (When Congress authorized Fee Demo, they ran smack up against one of the most deeply held, even cherished, ideas to come out of the American experience--our shared ownership of, and access to, our public lands.)

  • Bill favors charging demonstration fees to access to federal land
    (If caught on public land without the pass, visitors could be charged with a class B misdemeanor offense, which could lead to jail time and a fine.)

  • Forest Service higher-ups hear call for more community input
    (Forest officials heard objections from commissioners to the fee demonstration program, which charges a fee to Maroon Bells visitors during certain hours of the day in the summer and fall. "The fee demo program, it just grabs us at the gut level..." )

  • Senate candidates split on fees, drilling
    (The candidates were also split on another important public land management issue - user fees for hikers, cyclists, off-road enthusiasts and other recreationalists. But this time it wasn't along party lines.)

  • County calls for abolition of federal fee-demo program
    (The commissioners also went on record opposing Ohio Congressman Ralph Regula's bill, HR 3283, which would implement permanent access fees on all public lands. Ouray County's resolution joins dozens of similar statements by elected bodies nationally, including 12 counties in Colorado and numerous jurisdictions in California, Arizona, and the Pacific Northwest)

  • County calls for abolition of federal fee-demo program
    (Ouray County commissioners have passed a resolution calling for the abolition of the federal Recreational Fee Demonstration Program, saying the program has negative effects on tourism, among other reasons.)

  • Op-Ed: Fees and Forests Don't Always Fit, writes Sen. Larry Craig
    (The next time you visit your local public library, drive an interstate highway through the West or attend a city council meeting, imagine how frustrated and upset you'd be if you were charged a fee for the privilege of doing so.)

  • Op-Ed: Public-land fees bark up wrong tree
    (The general public - the "users" - shouldn't be asked to pony up more cash when what's in the coffers is so grossly mismanaged. Let's plug the holes in the dike before we pour more water into the reservoir.)

  • That cigarette butt ought to cost you
    (Instead of demanding a fee to access public lands, how about charging trash tossers for the privilege of ruining them?)

  • End near for forest fee experiment
    (Frick said he also opposes the fee on grounds the Bush administration is using it as an excuse to underfund forest and wildlife programs.)

  • New Forest Pass
    (Government agents who sell passes can help the buyer make an informed decision. With annual passes selling for up to $85, a pass can either save or waste money.)

  • Whose Land is it Anyway
    (The really amazing thing about this rebellion is not just the amount of opposition to Fee-Demo on the Western Slope and indeed all over the West, but the diversity of individuals and groups opposing the program. Interests that are usually at each other's throats over land-use issues are working side-by-side.)

  • Loving Special Places to Death:To Privatize or Not
    (If the marketizers win, public land will be no more. In one form it is Disneyfied, privatized in part with major costs borne by the public at large. In another form, it can be privatized outright and sold off in a vain attempt to pay down the public debt to cover for past abuses of political power.)

  • To Fee or Not to Fee
    (Will the lure of recreation fees cause land managers to replace low-revenue pursuits like backpacking and hiking with big moneymakers like theme parks?)

  • Fees to use public land taking hike
    (Under measure HR 3283, introduced in Congress by Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio, a fee - variously projected at $85 to $100 per year - would be charged to set foot on any federal land, whether a short hike through the forest or a visit to a national park.)

  • This Land is My Land: Empty Promise
    (Recreation may be an important political tool for the agency, but efforts to make recreation bring home the big bucks have seemingly failed.)

  • Bill would make recreation fees permanent
    ("One of the main concerns is that the fee program has the potential to create perverse incentives" to develop more facilities, Frost said. "Do we really want to commercialize and/or privatize our national natural resources?")

  • U.S. Senate deals setback to fee demo program
    (The ability to charge a fee for use of public lands is the first step toward privatization, they claim.)

  • Red Rock Pass on the rocks
    (A local group advocating no fees for use of public lands celebrated the passage of a Senate bill that could put the Red Rock Pass on the rocks.)

  • Senate puts nail in fee demo coffin
    (The U.S. Forest Service's ability to charge special fees at 105 sites around the country, including the Maroon Bells, suffered a blow in the U.S. Senate Wednesday night.)

  • Fee free trails
    (What we have now is that just about every body of water in Central Oregon, whether it's moving water or lakes, requires a fee.)

  • Plan would cement public land user fees.
    (Robert Funkhouser... called the fee program a tax to fund fiscally irresponsible construction programs, specifically citing three visitors centers being built in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument)

  • Fee demo changes likely to confuse
    (This year's U.S. Forest Service (USFS) fee demo program offers a lot more options - and likely a lot more confusion.)

  • Editorial: Fight against fee-demo must be won in Congress
    (As opposition to the fee demo continues, Congress will have no choice but to closely examine the failures of the project. Land users have come this far. They need to keep pushing for this program to end.)

  • Escalante fee plan dropped
    (Plans to implement a user fee for Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument have been abandoned, largely in response to growing local opposition including a resolution opposing the fee by the nearby city of Escalante, Utah.)

  • EDITORIAL - For forest fee critics, a small victory
    (There should be no fee. In acquiring public lands since the country's founding, Congress morally and contractually obligated itself to properly preserve and maintain public property, and to guarantee public access at no cost to lands bought with public funds.)

  • Sen. Craig jabs user fees for public lands
    (Idaho's senior senator joked during a congressional committee hearing Wednesday that those in attendance would be charged a "hearing fee." But Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, told the committee members not to worry because services would be enhanced.)

  • EDITORIAL - End fees to access federal land
    (Federal lands belong to all of us; all of us benefit from their existence; and all of us should pay a little -- and we do, through our taxes -- for their upkeep.)

  • Smith avoids stand on rec fees
    ("For Gordon Smith and (Sen.) Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to do anything other than oppose fee demo is to go directly against the will of the state," said Silver, referring to a 2001 Oregon measure. That measure opposed the recreation fee demonstration program.)

  • Rec fees could become standard for parks
    ("The whole concept of charging access fees to public lands is appalling to most people in the West," Raney said. "As you are aware, there has been a huge backlash from the public ... the worst of which is that people simply quit going to public lands.")

  • Sawtooth cuts trail fee program in half
    (Diane Fassino, of Sun Valley, is another outspoken critic of the fee demo program which she believes is a ploy to motorize, commercialize and privatize America's public lands.)

  • Craig speaks against forest entry fees
    (Craig added that he is concerned that facilities were being built in order to attract fee payments. "I don't like this attitude that if we build it they will pay," Craig said.)

  • Sawtooth drops fee for 21 trailheads
    ("Upon reviewing each one of our 38 trailheads where recreationists are currently required to pay fees, we found that 21 were not in alignment with the definition of significant development as described in the national blueprint," Monahan said.)

  • D.C. hearings on fee demo bills set
    ("The No-Fee Coalition as well as individuals and organizations nationwide are surprised and disappointed that this bill would see the light of day. This is a new tax to access public lands.")

  • New criteria pare forest-use fee sites
    ("I fear this is a step toward making the program permanent while they mollify the population. Once it's permanent, there's nothing to stop the Forest Service from letting it creep back.")

  • You gotta' pay to play
    (...Whiskeytown announced a crackdown on visitors who don't display permits on their dashboards. The park said it lost a potential $200,000 in 2002 alone, with only half of the park's visitors buying permits.)

  • Fee demo program takes 'public' out of public lands
    (Besides commodifying nature, fee demo is fraught with issues of inequity, unaccountability, misrepresentation, disregard for the democratic process, and incentives to prioritize revenue generation over land stewardship and public service.)

  • Discounted sale of forest recreation parking passes extended to April 20
    ("Essentially, the visiting public may choose between a `standard' annual parking pass or a 'premium' annual parking pass based on their use of National Forest facilities in the Black Hills," Garcia said.)

  • Recreation Fees to be Eliminated at Many Parks
    ("I mainly go to areas where I know I don't have to pay and I just ride the half a mile to the trail head," said Mladenich.)

  • Recreation Fees to be Eliminated at Many Parks
    (There has been a trend going on for several years now with recreation fee demonstration program to turn recreation into an extractive industry no different from mining or grazing.)

  • Groups fighting Fee Demo at Grand Staircase-Escalante
    (Walz said she and Zeta, who live in Escalante, are talking to fee opponents in other towns. The area's congressman has been approached for support, and the city council of Escalante has approved a resolution calling for an end to Fee Demo.)

  • New recreation pass offers more coverage
    (It is spendy, its popularity is yet to be determined and it won't cure every headache, but the long-awaited Washington and Oregon Recreation Pass has entered the market. For $85, this annual pass will ...)

  • Deschutes Forest fees shifting to popular sites
    (Would these budget cuts even have been contemplated if the fee demo program hadn't been put in place, as the mechanism to allow them to happen? Instead of being supplemental, as they always said it would be, it's supplemental to a declining base.)

  • Forest fees shuffled
    (Some of those who swim, boat and picnic in the Deschutes National Forest soon will find they need to pay to use some of the more popular recreational areas that were previously free.)

  • Forest grumps
    (In coming months, Congress could vote to make some or all of these fee programs permanent or let them die, and there's plenty of skirmishing afoot in Washington right now.)

  • Recreation fee rebellion
    (The case reveals the level of indignation that some people have for federal fees on public lands. It also shows the lengths they'll go to challenge a program that Congress has extended repeatedly since creating what was supposed to be a two-year pilot project in 1996.)

  • Five share their tales of how they were ticketed
    (Here are the stories of five people - a Portland massage therapist, a Eugene college student, a Salem engineer and a pair of Bend teenagers - who got tickets.)

  • Recreation fee no walk in the park
    (It's unclear how many cases are winding up in federal courtrooms because the courts lack a clear tracking system. But the number of open Northwest cases on the federal Central Violations Bureau's list has swelled into the hundreds over the past couple of years.)

  • New rec pass is nearly universal
    (As if figuring out the Northwest Forest Pass, Golden Eagle Pass, Golden Age Passport, State Parks parking permit and state conservation decal were not difficult enough, seven state and federal agencies have created a new one: the Washington & Oregon Recreation Pass.)

  • Op-Ed: New parking pass just isn't the ticket
    (But they've entirely missed the point about most peoples' biggest fee beefs: The cost rankles, sure. But the hassle is what makes them write their members in Congress.)

  • Counties fight Forest Service fees
    (A number of Colorado counties are lobbying against a government program that charges fees for use of public lands. Jackson and Pitkin counties recently joined nine other counties - La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan, San Miguel, Gunnison, Saguache, Rio Grande, Hinsdale and Mineral - in opposing the program that runs through 2005.)

  • Wilderness and recreation hurt by Fee Demo
    (The Forest Service can't justify charging us to use our own undeveloped lands - its own surveys show this - so, if it is under pressure to raise money through fees, it will have a strong incentive to develop its lands with otherwise unnecessary facilities and activities that it can charge for. )

  • No fee advocates herald progress of bill
    (The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's recent unanimous vote in favor of the Recreational Fee Authority Act -- sponsored by Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo. -- is a first move toward removing the Red Rock Pass system.)

  • Editorial: Park fee plan is a bust
    (The U.S. Forest Service spent $1.6 million building an outhouse near the Maroon Bells, then whined it didn't have money for toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Now it charges citizens a fee just to look at the famous peaks. The paradox is just one example of why the federal recreation fee demonstration program is a bust.)

  • It's Yours, But You Have to Pay a Private Company to Access It
    (The extreme government practice of charging individual taxpayers for a walk through a forest, while paying millions of dollars to private corporations to log in those forests, is clearly ridiculous.)

  • Controversy grows over Forest Service fees
    ("People have a better attitude when they feel they have ownership in the land than when they have to pay an entrance fee," she continued. "All of a sudden it's someone else's job keep you on the trail, pick up your trash. It's more like visiting Disneyland than some place you own.")

  • Editorial: Fie on forest fees
    (The Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, paying to hike in the woods on public lands, was a bad idea when it began. It is still a bad idea, one that needs to be scrapped.)

  • Senate panel votes to trim user fee demo
    (In what activists are calling a "remarkable victory," opponents of the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program celebrated Wednesday what they believe is the beginning of the end of recreation fees on national forests and other public lands.)

  • Editorial: Fee demo - Vote ends a flawed plan, but issues remain
    (Fees could lead to unwanted "improvements" - more and fancier buildings, more pavement, more concession stands - that would alter largely undeveloped public lands, and, in turn, to more fees. A wholesale privatization of public lands could follow, with what were national treasures reduced to something akin to amusement parks.)

  • Editorial: Craig emerges to defend rights of public land users
    (The Recreation Fee Authority Act, or S.1107, sponsored by Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., could be the beginning of the end for the fee demonstration program in Idaho's Sawtooth National Forest and similar sites.)

  • Editorial: Some adventure: jail for hiker
    (We don't like the poorest among us being forced to pay or, worse, intimidated against heading out on what used to be one of the few free weekend outings for a family.)

  • Fees for public lands suffer blow in Senate
    (The ability of the U.S. Forest Service to charge a fee to visit places like the Maroon Bells and possibly expand the program to cover hiking on public lands was dealt a potentially lethal blow in the U.S. Senate yesterday.)

  • Senate committee cuts recreation fees
    ("For a totally grass-roots effort to prevail over the Secretary of the Interior is an accomplishment of incredible proportion. We went toe to toe with some power players, and this time the people won.")

  • Paying to play won't fly in Pitco
    (Intense lobbying by citizens helped convince the Pitkin County commissioners yesterday to join the fight against a federal government program that charges fees to visit national forests and other public lands.)

  • Hiker convicted of illegal recreation
    (A Pasadena man was convicted Thursday of hiking up Mount Baldy without buying a $5 Adventure Pass, making him just the second person convicted for the offense since the program began in 1997.)

  • Editorial - Time to make a stand against stiff forest fees
    (It's time Congress recognized the pay-for-play program on most of our national public lands is a failure -- and un-American to boot.)

  • Local public lands snared in Catch 22
    (The fee program, they believe, is the first step toward commercializing public lands - paving the way, literally, for private, capitalistic exploitation of public domain and the creation of concrete infrastructure in America's wilderness.)

  • Fee demo headed for showdown
    (It has met emphatic opposition from a wide range of public-lands users, who argue that fees represent double taxation, turn land managers into profiteers, and allow private industry to make money from public lands.)

  • 'Hiking fee' foes take up fight in valley
    ("People really hate this program," claimed Kitty Benzar, co-founder of the Western Slope No Fee Coalition and a resident of southwestern Colorado. "Everybody hates it except the agencies that use it.")

  • To Fee or Not to Fee
    (Recreation users are expressing growing resentment towards fees, improved sites developed for "industrial strength recreation," and an increasing presence of private, commercial enterprises on public lands.)

  • Tonto fees make unhappy campers
    (Tonto Forest is the only public-lands agency in the nation to hand off enforcement to a private company.)

  • A moment of truth for user fees
    (Critics oppose the push to make the fee program permanent. "If your kid can't keep a goldfish alive," says Kitty Benzar of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, "you don't buy them a pony.")

  • Changes may trim some fees for hikers
    (Opponents of the fee program, who criticize the "commercialization" of national forests, view the changes as a cynical ploy to make user fees seem more benign.)

  • Wreckreation: Paying to play on public lands
    (Federal land management agencies have gathered together with representatives of industry to introduce a brave-new-world scenario for our public lands, in which corporate interests are the stakeholders and citizens will be reduced to mere customers and consumers.")

  • Editorials - Keep trimming those trail fees (Oregonian)
    (The threat of jail time doesn't exactly inspire people to feel welcome on their public lands. Neither do hefty fees that are affordable only to high-income outdoor lovers - not to families, senior citizens or others struggling to pay the bills.)

  • Editorial - Charging to hike is wrong
    (If money is the root of all evil, then clearly something suspicious is going on in Washington, D.C.Fees to hike in national forests? That threat is preposterous.)

  • Editorial - This land is our land - or is it?
    (I guess it's just something to think about the next time you throw on the old Camelback for an afternoon jaunt up to American Lake. This land is your land, or at least that's what they told us in school. Something's seriously wrong when it's your land only if you can afford it.)

  • Editorial - Fee proposal is no compromise
    (Forest Service officials have an obligation to share their plans with the public. They also shouldn't be surprised if fee-demonstration opponents aren't satisfied when they finally do publicize their plans.)

  • Forests eliminate some fees for visits
    (The U.S. Forest Service will drop almost a third of the 1,200 recreation sites in Oregon and Washington from the list of locations that require a Northwest Forest Pass to visit.)

  • Controversial NW Forest Pass Dropped At 400 Spots
    (No more passes needed for a walk in the woods. The U.S. Forest Service says almost 400 recreation sites in Oregon and Washington will no longer require hikers and other visitors to purchase a Northwest Forest Pass.)

  • Northwest Forest Pass system could be set for overhaul
    (The downsizing is one of the most significant revisions in the 6-year-old recreation fee program, and comes as Congress is considering legislation to make the pay-to-park program permanent.)

  • Bill proposes fee to use public lands
    (Hikers, mountain bikers and others who recreate in the national forests could be charged up to $85 for an annual pass under legislation proposed by a U.S. congressman from Ohio.)

  • Feel like hiking? Got $85?
    (A U.S. congressman who created the controversial recreation fee demonstration program wants to take it a step further and charge at least $85 annually for hiking in national forests and visiting other public lands.)

  • Critics pan plan for land-use fee
    (Sean Conway, chief of staff for Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and a vocal critic of the fee demo program, said if Regula's proposal "somehow makes it out of the House, it's certain to die a quick death in the Senate.")

  • Legislation proposed to make fee demonstration program permanent
    (Still in the preliminary planning phase, officials do not have details on that pass. However, Biro said it would cost "somewhere around $85 for an annual pass, maybe more.")

  • New law proposes permanent user fees
    (The bill would also give the program more enforcement teeth by labeling failure to pay as a class B misdemeanor, punishable with a maximum $5,000 fine and 6 months in jail.)

  • Ouray volunteers patrol a former land of the fee
    (The fees have prompted protests and demonstrations at Yankee Boy and some of the 378 other fee-demo sites across the country and sparked some high-level political opposition.)

  • Opposition stalls plans to develop campground / charge fees
    (Opponents of recreation fees on public lands have formed a national lobbying coalition with the idea of getting the Forest Service to scale back plans - and keep access to the land free.)

  • Red Rock fees on the ropes?
    ("The more and more they charge, the less Congress is going to appropriate our tax dollars," Orlando said. "Congress will say, 'You're bringing in all of this money from fees, you don't need it from us.'")

  • Congress debates user-fee program
    (Doug Young, district policy director for public lands and natural resources for Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., told a group of citizens last week that the Forest Service wouldn't have these problems if Congress would fully fund the agency.)

  • McInnis backs off stance on rec fees
    (He also said the Forest Service is spending $15 million to $20 million each year to administer the program, which brings in only about $35 million annually.)

  • Congress rethinks recreation fees for public lands
    (The fee, which is charged at national forests and parks across the nation, is reviled by conservationists and other natural-resources groups who say it is outrageous that taxpayers must pay to hike, picnic or park in national forests.)

  • Congress may move to curb unpopular forest-use fees
    (The fee, known as the Adventure Pass in California, is reviled by conservationists and other natural-resources groups who say it is outrageous that taxpayers must pay to hike, picnic or park in national forests.)

  • McInnis questions future of Forest Service fee program
    (A Forest Service program that allows national forests to charge admission fees is targeted for reform or even elimination, Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., said.)

  • McInnis holds hearing on fee demo program
    ("At the same time, however, I have fundamental reservations about the Forest Service's implementation of the program to date." - said Congreeman McInnis)

  • Forest Recreation Fees - Critics give lawmakers an earful
    (Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., said the fee was adopted without a public hearing or much debate. She said it might discourage some low-income citizens from visiting their national forests.)

  • Citizens debate merits of fee demo areas
    (I'm concerned with the privatization of public agencies... They're pushed into developing sites for money.)

  • Fee-demo programs to take a hike out - or up
    (Increasingly, parks, national forests and other public lands are closing their doors and opening them to people willing to pay a fee.)

  • Campground plans appealed
    (The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition is appealing a Forest Service plan to spend $700,000 to convert the campground near the top of Molas Pass into a fancier, fee-based site.)

  • 'You play and pay': Recreation fees raise revenue, controversy
    (Reaction to the pilot program has been "overwhelmingly negative," said Mike Tracy, communication director for U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. "People have been frustrated by the whole project. They want it to go away.")

  • Adventure Pass is losing support
    (In a stunning victory for hikers, bikers and anglers, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., announced Tuesday that she is opposed to requiring the current Adventure Pass for recreation on national forests.)

  • Editorial - Vandalism sending the wrong message to forest officials
    (We have opposed in these pages the establishment of more regulations, fees and permit programs by the U.S. Forest Service at the portals to local wilderness areas...)

  • Editorial - Idaho politicians miss the point on fee demo
    (As we've said before, when a fee program compels its prospective customers -- in this case, you the taxpaying owner of public lands -- to pay a fee or else face a ticket, it can hardly be categorized as a popular program.)

  • House won't kill trail fees, but local foe still optimistic
    ("You talk to the people in my district," {U.S. Representative Greg} Walden said, and "the people want to be able to go out, take the family, drive out and go out for a walk in the woods. And they can't do that now if they don't go buy a permit.")

  • Forest Service using focus groups for plans
    ("Sink, a Bend resident and member of the Central Oregon Resource Advisory Council for the Forest Service. 'When they try to sell recreation, they turn it into Disneyland.'")

  • Stage Is Set for Corporate Control of Wild Lands
    ("The fees, critics charged, marked the beginning of corporate control of our public lands that have, until now, been part of our heritage, paid for by our tax dollars. Well, guess what? The critics were right.")

  • Fees are unfair, costly bureaucratic boondoggle
    ("Fees are undemocratic, discriminatory, exclusionary, and a regressive double tax. Left unchecked they will lead to privatization and commercialization on the national forests.")

  • Hailey, Ketchum shun Forest Service (fee-demo) banners
    ("The fees cause more harm than good," Simon said. "It's a $15 public-relations fiasco. It's not worth the income.")

  • Gorge fees give users of public lands something to honk about
    (The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition opposes not only the Gunnison Gorge's Fee Demo but also fees that could generate from the potential creation of a National Recreation Area within the Gunnison Gorge NCA, Benzar said.)

  • Editorial - Outdoor recreation relies on free public land usage
    (Federal agencies want taxpayers to abandon their sense of ownership in public lands by making access fees -- such as the fee demo in the Sawtooth Forest -- an accepted part of the outdoor experience.)

  • Editorial - Chop forest fee program
    (Congress should terminate the U.S. Forest Service's recreation fee demonstration program. A recent 40-page report from the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, should be used to drive the final nail into the program's coffin.)

  • Rhetoric about forest travel heating up
    ("Should this premise of selling recreation to paying customers ever become fully adopted, you can kiss wilderness goodbye...")

  • Fee demo program is 'no-brainer'
    (The program, called the national fee demonstration project, is under fire from critics who contend that American taxpayers get fleeced when they are charged to use public lands.)

  • Report favors abolishing fee demo
    (Opponents of recreational user fees in national forests say a newly released General Accounting Office report focusing largely on the U.S. Forest Service points to why the 7-year-old program should be abolished.)

  • Bill draws line between fees for parks, other federal lands
    ([Senator] Thomas wants to make permanent the National Park Service's recreation fee demonstration program -- which is set to expire in September 2004 -- but not for similar projects under the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service.)

  • Fees on rise for Oregon recreation passes
    (The cost of spending time on public land in Oregon can add up - to $155 a year for somebody who pays for all federal and state annual passes.)

  • GAO Faults Forest Service for Fee Demo
    (A new report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has found fault with the Forest Service‘s participation in the Congressional Fee Demo program.)

  • Forest Service, fee critics disagree on audit results
    (Critics of the "pay to play" program said the audit showed Forest Service accounting practices don't offer a clear picture of the program's overhead costs.)

  • True cost of forest program in dispute
    (A new report by the U.S. General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, reveals that the U.S. Forest Service has been dramatically underreporting the cost of collecting visitor fees.)

  • Outdoor recreation in Oregon far from free
    (Just how much people should pay for recreation has become a hot issue in Oregon.)

  • Forest Service fee program may be flawed
    ("It is time for Congress to terminate this ill-conceived fee program. Americans have already paid taxes to maintain what is theirs," Funkhouser said.)

  • GAO: forest fees flawed
    (The report by the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, focused on the Forest Service, because its fees have been the most controversial.)

  • Locals oppose Flaming Gorge fees
    ("I don't know how to say this ... but the fee demo program sucks and it has sucked since it began," said ...)

  • Forest Service may yank fee at Yankee
    (A volunteer program is proposed by the No-Fee Coalition and other stakeholders to protect the fragile alpine landscape without charging fees from visitors to the once-free public lands.)

  • Pima supervisors Board opposes forest user fees
    (The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to oppose a federal program charging $5-per-day fees to visit Mount Lemmon, Sabino Canyon and Madera Canyon.)

  • This Land Is Our Land
    ("It's also one of the most economically deplorable programs in terms of its efficiency," he says, citing a U.S. Forest Service study showing that federal agencies can spend more than half of their fee demo proceeds on simply administering the program.)

  • Additional fees at parks an extra tax on citizens
    (Bush's critics say he only cares about cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans. He could prove them wrong by asking Congress to terminate the fee-demonstration program once and for all.")

  • Editorial: Voice in the Forest
    (The Recreational Fee Demonstration Program was useful and perhaps necessary on a temporary basis, but after seven years it is time, as Elias says in his resolution, for Congress "to restore land-management funding for the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service ... to provide for those agencies' full needs without the charging of fees.")

  • County may ask Congress to do away with fees to visit public lands
    (Federal fees for access to some public lands should be done away with, the Pima County Board of Supervisors said yesterday.)

  • County supervisors take stand against Mt. Lemmon user fees
    (The public - especially low-income residents - should have free access to Mount Lemmon and Madera and Sabino canyons, a Pima County supervisor asserted yesterday.)

  • Op-Ed: Fee Demo is step toward privatizing public lands
    (As citizens, we have not been fully informed about the long-term ramifications of Fee Demo either by our government or by the agencies participating in the program.)

  • Park pass to include fee-demo areas
    (The fee demonstration program has had strong opposition in La Plata County.)

  • Bush: Make Red Rock fee permanent
    (The Bush plan is a "losing deal" for national parks and doesn't replace adequate funding from Congress, said Randall Rasmussen, acting regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association.)

  • Recreation Fees ... in Bush's Budget
    ("President Bush's proposed federal budget would make permanent a controversial recreation fee on public lands. The program has sparked varied reaction from outdoors enthusiasts. Some hate it, some accept it grudgingly and others support it.")

  • Fee Demonstration charges dropped
    ("They (the USFS) know that pushing these cases will only increase public opposition to an already highly unpopular program.")

  • Editorial: Bush takes a liking to fees
    (Bush and Congress need to drop the entire fee demo program and fund national forests outright. The land still belongs to those who already pay for it.)

  • Editorial: Denver Post 2/2/03
    (The Forest Service can't plead poverty and press to expand its idiotic recreation-fee demonstration program.)

  • State joins other agencies charging recreation fees for users
    (As long-time environmental writer Michael Frome notes, recreation fees on public lands turn a simple walk in nature into a commercial transaction.)

  • Fee-for-hiking fight intensifies in state
    (Some U.S. Attorney's offices have concluded that it's too much trouble and money expended to collect a $30 fine.)

  • Polly Cullen wanted to be heard
    (Sedona resident Polly Cullen would have preferred to argue her case and lost than been silent and won.)

  • No show, no charge
    ("The fact that Cochren has been transferred and did not show today, clearly demonstrates that the Forest Service does not want to pursue these cases because they know they are in the wrong,")

  • San Juan fees
    ("People seem to be hungry for a way to express their opposition to this program," she said.)

  • Big FWP fee hikes symptom of a bigger woe
    (... we're increasingly skeptical about a phenomenon known as the unbundling of government services -- of making everything pay for itself.)

  • Op-Ed: GOUGING (San Francisco Chronicle)
    (After 60 years of backpacking, it has come to this for me: The U.S. Forest Service considers me a customer and the wilderness into which I hike a commodity to be sold.)

  • Parks in peril: State parks belong to the people, the land
    (Give the parks back to the land, the wildlife and the people who love them as they are.)

  • 'Civil disobedience': Trail-fee foe takes principled stand in court
    (It wasn't the fine, but the philosophy Tyler Winterholler was challenging.)

  • Forest Service signs, fees offer only confusion
    ("I had maybe $8 on me at the time," he said. "I didn't want to break the law. On my limited income ... $30 is a lot of money.")

  • Fee Demonstration Program Fees' dangerous potential
    (It is naive to think that once this fee demo program, championed by commercial interests, becomes law, that it could be repealed by any amount of public outcry.)

  • Forest fiasco?
    (Nearly two-thirds said they believed that the program is unfair to low-income persons, and nearly 85 percent said people should be able to recreate on a national forest even if they cannot afford the fee.)

  • Op-Ed - Under the radar
    (If this seems like the action of an agency out of control, that's because it is. Much like the Forest Service's controversial "Fee Demo" program on federal lands, our own Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has seen the "pot of gold" at the end of the recreation rainbow.)

  • Op-Ed - Of mice and me, or how I paid a fee and built a better mousetrap
    (...we'll continue to pay the corporation because our public lands are being swallowed whole by a bureaucracy that feeds on campers as if they were just another industry, no different than lumber, mining, grazing or oil.)

  • Council asks Congress to stop fee demonstration program
    ("It is therefore imperative that Sedona join the growing list of states, counties and cities that oppose any re-authorization of fee demo and that we call on Congress to increase funding for our public lands..")

  • Payette day-use fees discontinued over thefts
    (Day-use fees in the Payette recreation area are being discontinued because someone is stealing the $3 fees from the tubes in which they are deposited.)

  • Michael Frome Op-Ed - Fee demo on our public lands is a rip-off
    (The fee demo program has proven so distasteful that even three of its original Republican supporters in the Senate, Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Wayne Allard of Colorado and Larry Craig of Idaho, have given up on it.)

  • PRO FEE Op-Ed - You pay your money, you get your recreation
    (Most low-income families lack the luxury of free time or the financial means to get to the front gate of a national park. But if we are worried about their access, one alternative is to send them a free pass based on the previous year's tax return or coupons for a percentage reduction in their fee.)

  • Editorial - Get Rid of Fees
    (It's been six long years and still they are ignoring growing opposition to the program. The very people who stand to gain from those fees have become skeptical of the program.)

  • Canyon fee helps buy toilets, tables
    (Even if Congress votes to keep the user fee program in place, there's also a concern that other budget monies may be cut because the user fees are providing a lot of money.)

  • Payette day-use fees discontinued over thefts
    (Day-use fees in the Payette recreation area are being discontinued because someone is stealing the $3 fees from the tubes in which they are deposited.)

  • Congress unlikely to act on forest pass by end of year
    (But these anti-fee groups say they are up against corporate lobbyists of recreation-related companies who want to profit off the land and view the fees as their ticket to do so.)

  • From forest to courtroom: Suit challenges Adventure Pass
    (The class-action suit was brought by Santa Ynez public-interest lawyer Mary Ellen Barilotti. It seeks to end the Forest Service's Adventure Pass Recreational Fee Demonstration Program.)

  • Op-Ed : Time to scrap forest fee demo program
    (Momentum is building to terminate the grossly undemocratic U.S. Forest fee demo program.)

  • Park users can't see the forest for the fees
    (An annual pass will set you back 50 bucks. That's the new annual price of watching a sunset at Dash Point, walking the dog at Shine Tidelands or doing just about anything else in a once-magnificent park system...)

  • Editorial - Even forest employees dislike trailhead passes
    (If Forest Service leaders won't heed the public outcry to stop these fees, perhaps they should start listening to their own colleagues.)

  • Editorial - Nothing fair about these fees
    (Disguising this added tax as a user fee doesn't make it any more palatable.)

  • Forest Service's authority to impose program challenged
    (The U.S. Forest Service is the target of a class-action lawsuit that seeks to overturn fees charged to visitors in Southern California's four national forests.)

  • Forest Lovers File Suit Over Adventure Pass Fee
    (Six forest lovers filed a federal lawsuit claiming the $5-a-day Adventure Pass needed to visit national forests is unconstitutional because it charges people a fee to use something they have an inherent right to.)

  • Adventure Pass foes sue in federal court
    ("Our contention is that they didn't have the authority to criminalize the conduct in four national forests," she said. Appropriation bills deal with funding, not criminal law, Barilotti said.)

  • Fewer tourists make trek to Yosemite
    (Casual visitors from valley cities often opt to go to other lakes and parks, where they don't have to pay such a large fee, said Dan Carter of Oakhurst, executive director of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau.)

  • Many Forest Service Workers don't like idea of new fees
    (Fewer than half of Forest Service employees in the Northwest support the imposition of visitor fees in national forests, according to a survey of agency employees.)

  • Many Forest Service workers oppose fees, survey reports
    ( A survey of U.S. Forest Service employees found that many do not support the so-called "pay to play" fee system on some public land in the Northwest.)

  • Forest fee setup splits employees of agency
    (More than 60 percent worry that the system of charging $5 a day or $30 a year to use certain areas of national forests is unfair to low-income people.)

  • Park Wars
    (The fee fight belongs to the much larger battle over whether the values of the marketplace will dominate those of democracy. Its outcome will help determine how Americans use their public lands and waterways.)

  • Forest Service Eyes Trail Fees for Firefighting
    (This summer, money from some of these trailhead fees could be redirected into wildland firefighting efforts.)

  • Many Parks Cancel No-Fee Admission on Founders Day
    ("Individual parks will make an individual call on fees," said Silver, whose group says recreation fees have driven families from public land facilities.)

  • Little charges add up to frustrated campers
    (You know what this is called? It's called charging what the traffic will bear. You know what it engenders? It engenders resentment.)

  • Senator Allard writes: Fee-demo program is widely opposed
    ("With such opposition, from such a wide range of Colorado citizens and elected officials, it is clear the fee-demo program is not working and should not be continued on a permanent basis. - Sen. Wayne Allard")

  • Lawmakers critical of Hells Canyon user fee plan
    ("The three Idaho delegation members wrote a letter to Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth asking him to reconsider. They said the move would be premature considering a national debate over forest user fees in other areas.")

  • Fee demo under fire
    ("Colorado U.S. Senator Wayne Allard and state representatives Diana DeGette and Bob Schaffer recently joined Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell in opposing making the fee demo program permanent.")

  • Toilet Paper Could Flush Pay-to-Play
    ("Hansen, architect of the nation's five-year experiment with the "pay-to-play" idea, has backed off on plans to make the program permanent and to expand it to all public lands before he leaves office at the end of the year.")

  • Craig comes out against recreation fee program
    ("Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, has reversed his stand and joined fellow GOP Sen. Mike Crapo in opposing continuation of the recreation fee program in the nation's national forests.")

  • Will Craig work to end fee?
    ("Perhaps unwittingly, Sen. Craig reveals the central scandal of the fee: the Forest Service is so wretchedly under funded that it even has been compelled to divert the $5 three-day and $15 annual fees to such basic emergencies as fighting forest fires.")

  • Recreationists Find Fewer Freebies In The Land Of The Fees
    ("When public lands are managed to ensure satisfactory financial returns, we will have turned recreation into just another extractive industry, no different than mining, logging, or grazing.")

  • More government reliance on user fees
    ("When it comes to the outdoors, there's an undercurrent of opposition to the pay-as-you-go mentality. The federal Recreation Fee Demonstration Program and its Northwest Forest Pass have emerged as top targets.")

LINKS TO OLDER ARTICLES