Issue of: May 13, 1998  


The Pros of buying a user fee pass

Bob Rosso gives a thumbs-up to purchasing a forest user pass.

The funding is not there for recreational uses anymore like it used to be. John and Jane Doe citizen in Anywhere, USA, should not be asked to pay for my trail hike. I’ve got to step up to the plate. Or, I’ve got to volunteer to go out there and do some trail work.

Last year was the first year of the user pass, and I would say, if anything, it was confusing because people heard about it, but were unaware of what it was or what it was doing.

If there’s any fault to put on the system so far, it’s been keeping the communication end of it up to speed. The program was sort of thrown on everybody with very little information so, understandably, people get upset. It looks like it’s another federal mandate without any explanation of where it’s going. I think that’s where the Forest Service has made some mistakes they’re trying to catch up to.

You could go on forever about what our tax money is used for. When it comes to personal recreation everyone of us has a different agenda. If you’re riding a motorcycle, or on a water-ski boat, or you’re riding a bicycle, a horseback person, or you’re just a hiker, or you’re a windsurfer or a paraglider, you are going to have an impact somewhere, and we shouldn’t have to ask someone else to pay our way. If everybody participates it doesn’t have to be a lot of money.

Nobody wants to just give money to the government and see it disappear into the wind.-- Bob Rosso

I need to know that every penny of my $5, which, when you think about is a ridiculously small amount of money, is going to be used locally to work on the trails, to enhance the trailheads, perhaps a restroom.

As we see documentation of what’s being done with that money right here and it’s not being wasted in the bureaucracy of government, I think people will gain confidence in the system.

That’s the accountability the Forest Service needs to be held to. How much money did you take in? Where did you spend it last year? Where are you planning to spend it this year? What do you have in mind for down the road? I think once we understand that, we might be a little more interested. Nobody wants to just give money to the government and see it disappear into the wind.

On the trails, there’s one of us that wants to tread lightly and hardly leave a print and there’s other people who want 300-horsepower fun. And we’ve all got a right to be out there. But if you think about it, whose taking care of that trail you’re on? If you want to play, you have to pay.

If you think it’s outrageous, don’t pay it. You don’t have to pay it. You can sneak around out there if you want to cheat on it. If you want to cheat, you can probably find a way to cheat. If that’s the way you like to go through life, fine, you do it.

My hope and what my recommendation to the Forest Service has been is that their enforcement policy remain primarily informative and positive, and not become just nasty issuing of tickets.

I don't know that you have to hold people’s feet to the fire and start writing citations. I think they need to keep it friendly and prove to people that it works. That’s the way I’d like to see it happen.


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