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. Ive got to step up to the plate. Or, Ive 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 theres any fault to put on the system so far, its 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 its another federal mandate without any explanation of where its going. I think thats where the Forest Service has made some mistakes theyre 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 youre riding a motorcycle, or on a water-ski boat, or youre riding a bicycle, a horseback person, or youre just a hiker, or youre a windsurfer or a paraglider, you are going to have an impact somewhere, and we shouldnt have to ask someone else to pay our way. If everybody participates it doesnt 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 whats being done with that money right here and its not being wasted in the bureaucracy of government, I think people will gain confidence in the system.
Thats 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, theres one of us that wants to tread lightly and hardly leave a print and theres other people who want 300-horsepower fun. And weve all got a right to be out there. But if you think about it, whose taking care of that trail youre on? If you want to play, you have to pay.
If you think its outrageous, dont pay it. You dont 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 thats 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 peoples feet to the fire and start writing citations. I think they need to keep it friendly and prove to people that it works. Thats the way Id like to see it happen.
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