For the week of May 25, 1999  thru June 1, 1999  

Forest Service enforcing new fee-demo program

First citations issued


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

m26fee.jpg (14240 bytes)As snow in the Wood River Valley and Stanley Basin rapidly recedes, trailheads that provide access to the Ketchum Ranger District and Sawtooth National Recreation Area backcountry are becoming accessible, and the newly revised user fee program is in effect and being enforced.

This year, as part of the Sawtooth National Forest’s newly revised fee program, vehicles parked at specified trailheads require a pass. Crews will be out in the next few weeks putting up signs at the 38 identified trailheads to eliminate confusion as to where the passes are required.

Already, Greenhorn Gulch, Adams Gulch, Pioneer Cabin and Hyndman Creek are accessible, and the trailhead user fee program is enforced in those sites.

As more trailheads open, parking passes will be required at those locations as well.

Passes became mandatory at open trailheads on May 14.

On Monday morning at Adams Gulch, just north of Ketchum, two out of 14 cars parked there displayed passes. Fee demonstration ranger Mary Ritz was busy issuing notices of non-compliance to the vehicles in violation.

Fourteen days after a notice of non-compliance is issued, if the owner of the cited vehicle has not bought a user-pass, a letter will be sent. Following a 10-day waiting period, if compliance is still not made, a $50 fine will be issued.

"We’d really like to get the word out to folks that they need to have a trailhead parking pass displayed on their vehicles if they’re parked at one of the identified trailheads," Ketchum Ranger District head ranger Kurt Nelson said.

"The money from the passes goes to maintain the trailheads and trails, and we think that is something most people can support. We’ve made this program about as user-friendly and easy to comply with as we could, so we hope most people will cooperate," Nelson continued.

Ketchum Ranger District projects that will be funded with parking pass revenues include a new trailhead at the Baker Creek trail, completion of the Oregon Gulch trailhead and additional work for trail maintenance crews.

On the SNRA, a new trailhead for the Elk meadows trail and three additional trail maintenance workers are being arranged for this summer. Additional projects are currently in the planning stages.

SNRA backcountry ranger Ed Cannady said the best way for people to "vote" against the fee- program is to contact congressmen or voice opinions on the Forest Service’s comment cards, not to boycott the program.

"Not buying a pass is being a cheapskate," he said. "Voting no is contacting your congressman."

Passes may be purchased at any local Forest Service office or several local vendors. They are $5 for a three-day pass or $15 for an annual pass.

All the money gleaned from user passes will stay in the Sawtooth National Forest and go to the construction and maintenance of trails and trailheads that the people who purchase passes use, Cannady said.

Passes must be displayed in all vehicles parked at affected trailheads. Lists of vendors and trailheads are available through the SNRA visitor center and at the Ketchum Ranger district office.

 

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