Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Protest forest recreation fees


It's March and we all anticipate summer recreation activities on our national forests. Remember the contentious days of "fee demo" from approximately 2000 thru 2004 when the Sawtooth National Forest imposed trailhead hiking fees on the Ketchum District and SNRA? If you think inappropriate hiking fees have "gone away" on other forests you would be dead wrong. The Forest Service has illegally designated 93 "High Impact Recreation Areas" nationwide!

On the bogus 160,000-acre Sedona, Ariz., High Impact Recreation Area, predictable anger and angst recently erupted at a public meeting. The existing federal fee legislation unequivocally stipulates that you cannot charge for simply parking and taking a hike. Yet, the Red Rock Pass did exactly that. Last fall, the Flagstaff magistrate judge threw out a violation notice (ticket) for a senior citizen hiker who successfully challenged it in court. Now the Coconino National Forest is in denial, backpedaling and obfuscating.

Public comment is open through March 21. I urge southern Idaho recreationists to comment, strongly opposing the Red Rock Pass and illegal Arizona High Impact Recreation Area. For quality information and facts, please go to www.westernslopenofee.org. Then send a succinct note to comments-southwestern-coconino-redrock@fs.fed.us.

This is a golden opportunity to weigh in. Your help is critically important.

The emerging Coconino National Forest situation will be instrumental and important in the protracted legal battle against oppressive and illegal backcountry "fees." You can help stop the insidious commercialization and privatization of your national forest recreation resource by chiming in. I guarantee you that if the American public doesn't take concerted action, it is extremely probable you will see the insidious recreation fees reappear on your own backyard Sawtooth Forest.

The annual appropriated budget for the Forest Service is $5.6 billion. The erroneous Forest Service contention that it "can't manage outdoor recreation without fees" is ludicrous.

Kindly contact me for further specifics at ScottyPhi@cox.net.

Scott Phillips

Hailey




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