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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 1 - 7, 2002


Promises made, promises broken?

The federal government is playing the old bait and switch game with national forest user fees.

User fees were sold with the promise that the money would be used for improvements on the forests where they were collected. They were sold with the promise the fees would not lead to cutbacks in federal forest funding. They were sold with the promise that the fees would remain affordable.

Promises. Promises.

Now, the Bush administration is working with federal recreation managers to introduce a single national pass similar to the $50 annual pass currently sold by the National Park Service.

So much for affordability.

So much for spending the money in the forest where it was collected.

A federal pass will make those promises next to impossible to keep.

And, by the way, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area just got its budget appropriation from Washington D.C. It’s down 17 percent, or $300,000 below last year.

Don’t blame it all on the War on Terror. The SNRA budget took a 13 percent hit the previous year.

Are the reductions just an unfortunate coincidence¾unrelated to collections of user fees¾as government officials have claimed repeatedly? The claims ring hollow.

The user fees look like they will live up to every skeptic’s expectations. A $50 national fee will be expensive, unfair, and will improve nothing.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.