Surcharge for conservation

1:41 p.m. on November 15, 2012 (EST)
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Hunters and fishermen have always supported the Pittman-Robertson Act which places a surcharge on their hunting ang fishing equipment, the funds from which go to help wildlife conservation efforts.  Truely, if you love wildlife buying a duck stamp, hunting/fishing lisence or gear is the best thing you can do for wildlife, wether you hunt/fish or not.  The money raised this way outweighs every other conservation organization's fundraising put together.  This act, the idea of sportsmen, is never challenged and is universally supported by those who know of its existance. 

Would you as a hiker/climber support a similar surcharge on your gear?

Fifty cents or a couple bucks extra on the price of your next pack? Add three bucks to the price of climbing shoes?  Another dollar for a cam? 

I can't be the first person to think of this.  What do you think?

Is there already an effort somewhere to put this in place?

 

Jeff

6:41 a.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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Well.... it depends. It depends on how the money is actually used. Sadly, the vast majority collected this way now is not used for its intended purpose. It is just wasted away like every other penny the government gets.

IF and only IF the money went to a true conservation fund would I support it. But the way it sits now.... no way in hell.

8:08 a.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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I'm not to keen to that idea.  Bureaucrats always seem to have a way of getting their grubby hands into the soup and begin diverting it for other uses.  No thanks. 

11:06 a.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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Rob, Rambler, I share and appreciate your healthy distrust of government and their spending habits.

The P-R act money on the other hand seems to get used pretty well from my experience working with our local fish and game department here.  Your concerns would deffinately be a sticking point for most would-be supporters I am sure. 

1:10 p.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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I, too, distrust government and how it manage the money I send it...but I would be willing to give the NPS money if I could be sure that the funds were used to enhance my wilderness experience...

 

 

1:38 p.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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There are more direct ways to support protection of parks and wilderness. As a small sample of examples just in my local neck of the woods, the Yosemite Foundation conducts cleanup days, education projects, and other things within Yosemite National Park. The National Parks Foundation does similar things throughout the US National Parks System. The California State Parks Foundation does similar things for California State Parks, plus works on acquiring land for the State Parks (I spent a day on a service project recently in Portola Redwoods SP rebuilding split rail fences and picnic tables, for example). Sempervirens collects funding for expanding protection for the coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) and related giant sequoia (Sequoia gigantia, found in the Sierra Nevada) When my local Boy Scout Council needed funding about 25 years ago, they sold half of one of their camps in the Santa Cruz Mountains to Sempervirens, which is now part of a connecting section of the California State Parks system between Big Basin Redwoods and Butano State Parks. The California State Parks Foundation coordinated the efforts to keep the parks open when the state government threatened to shut down 70 of the parks (and helped uncover the $54M that the state parks agency had been concealing for a number of years).

There are also organizations dedicated to maintaining and improving the major thru-hike trails - PCT, AT, Muir Trail, Continental Divide Trail, as well as other major trail systems. Much of that is service projects where members of the associations get out to physically work on the trails and campsites along them, using funds donated.

I might also note that the Izaac Walton League of America (founded in 1922, and inspired originally by fishing fans of Izaac Walton, author of THE book on fishing) has played a major role in preserving soil, air, waters, and wildlife for many years.

These grass-roots organizations (and many more I didn't list) have done more than the governments, and have been responsible for pushing the governments at all levels to take action.

2:46 p.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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Sage,

Thanks for pointing out the role sportsmen play in conservation.  Taxes on things like hiking boots, binoculars, and even bird books have been proposed for 40 years to help generate funds for non-game species and land conservation.  They always meet with a lot of opposition.  All oudoor users need to be willing to pay their way to benefit wildlife and wildlands.

The US Govt does a fair job of using funds for conservation.  The social services and defense budgets on the other hand seem out of control.  I would gladly pay more to use the park system, Forest Service campsites, taxes on equipment, etc.  Some recreation sites are over-developed and should be left alone and not "improved."

3:00 p.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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Bill, those organizations do good work and I admit that I don't volunteer like I should but the P-R act generates $2oo mllion annually: http://www.fws.gov/hunting/whatdo.html.

Private groups do good but can't touch what a 10% surcharge could do. 

It doesn't sound like a poular idea here though. 

I hate taxes as much as the next guy but as much money as some folks spend on gear, 10% could do a lot and since it would be on gear it could be seen as voluntary.

Just an idea.

4:10 p.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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Perhaps 10% is too much, but some surcharge that went to support SAR would help everyone. Right now, the monies from hunting and fishing licenses in our state, that is intended to improve habitat and other conservation needs, gets drained by search and rescue activities. 

5:37 p.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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I absolutely support the concept of a user tax on hiking gear, but share the concerns about how to make sure it gets to the right place.

Right now, revenue from the National Parks here is being siphoned off into the government's general coffers, and I suspect any tax would ultimately wind up going the same way.

I've noticed, though, that Ducks Unlimited seems to do fairly good work in terms of wetlands conservation. Others include the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Nature Conservancy. At least with the reputable NGOs, you can be pretty sure the money is going where it's supposed to.

In a slightly different area, another point to consider is whether such a tax wouldn't make it that much more attractive to buy gear online from foreign suppliers (and avoid the 10% surcharge). That could cost North American retailers, many of whom are already operating on fairly tight margins, a few sales.

7:30 p.m. on November 16, 2012 (EST)
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I do duck and upland bird hunt. I have no problem paying my fees to do so to pursue a hobby and those monies support improving the habitat for the animals that live within them. I have always wondered why, in the interest of "fairness", that birdwatchers, wildlife photographers, etc., or just persons who enjoy the outdoors, aren't made to pay a fee in order to pursue their hobby and support improving the animals' habitat. Just as I, on occasion, reap the benefits the improved habitats provide, so do the non hunters, as they pursue their hobby. However, where does the taxation stop? Or does it? Ever? Probably not. How about instituting an outdoor use license for ALL who use public lands. Can you imagine the revenue that would generate?

12:26 p.m. on November 17, 2012 (EST)
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Peter,

My experience with the Nature Conservancy has been very disappointing.  Take a careful look at your local chapter and their politics.  I am a firm believer in the Rocky Mtn Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, and Trout Unlimited.  These groups have a well-defiend purpose to improve habitat for critters and generate a lot of volunteer labor.  There are benefits to other critters as well.

Don't overlook the revenue generated by ammunition sales.  The crazy people that fear Obama seem to have a penchant for stockpiling ammo.  It probably  generates more revenue than all of the activities that benefit non-game species put together.

2:40 p.m. on November 17, 2012 (EST)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

Bill, those organizations do good work and I admit that I don't volunteer like I should but the P-R act generates $2oo mllion annually: http://www.fws.gov/hunting/whatdo.html.

Private groups do good but can't touch what a 10% surcharge could do. 

 I'm not sure you (and most people) are aware of just how much the NGOs and individuals do. As an example, in this area, there is a newly started project to improve and extend a trail system with a budget of $10.8M, all privately funded. Recent purchases by Sempervirens to add to the redwoods conservation areas (in the form of additions to the state parks and to Sequoia Wilderness Area) are in the multimillions. It is true that the state parks additions are not open to the public right now, due to the State of California's mismanagement of state park funds, but at least they are added. Another NGO, the Access Fund, has been purchasing and adding protected climbing areas all over the US, again in the millions per year.

The Conservation Alliance, which is an industry association made up of outdoor equipment manufacturers and retailers, has a large and growing fund which has, among other things, financed the removal of dams (freeing up rivers for fish spawning). Among the articles that have been posted here are articles from companies, like Patagonia, that directly support wilderness conservation projects.

If you hadn't noticed, Trailspace has been a member of "1% for the Planet" since 2006. That link will take you to a list of organizations that support the wilderness through service projects, donations, and purchases of land.

What it comes down to is that hikers, backpackers, and climbers have long been putting time and money into the areas we use, without the coercion of a government tax that too often gets put into some "general fund" or otherwise get "sequestered" into some "bridge to nowhere". As has been noted elsewhere, we already pay taxes that are used in the National Parks and Monuments, as well as BLM.

A question that I have not seen answered is how much personal time do the hunters and fishermen put into cleanup of the woods and streams?  Many hikers, backpackers, and climbers put in personal labor in maintaining the trails and parks. There was an article within the last week about increasing numbers of hunters entering "public lands" in the upper MidWest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, etc) and building semi-permanent blinds that include heating, cook stoves, etc, despite prohibitions on such quasi-permanent structures. These are not the backpackable blinds and stands you can hang on a tree, but constructed of 2x4s and plywood sheets, with glass windows that swing open. It has been left to the state authorities to remove the structures at large cost. When my family went hunting when I was growing up, we went in with pack animals to a base camp, then hunted on foot. Same with the fish. Then again, that was how we got a lot of our meat (in addition to raising chickens, turkeys, and rabbits, plus the garden vegetables). No "trophies".

2:45 p.m. on November 17, 2012 (EST)
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Ive been hearing about a card you will be able to buy here in nh. It is going to help cover sar costs and trail maint I think. This is all hearsay but from several sources, the card will be around twenty dollars and if you have it you will not be charged for sar except in cases of gross negligence. Kinda like a cross between a duck stamp and an insurance policy. If this is truly going to happen and the money goes where it is supposed to it would be a great way for all states and the bigger parks to raise money and cover some costs. I know im gonna purchase one even if I dont need rescue it will give me peace of mind.

3:25 p.m. on November 17, 2012 (EST)
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I think that's a good idea. now if we can just be sure of what the money is used for, that would make it even better.

4:26 p.m. on November 17, 2012 (EST)
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Bill S. asked,"A question that I have not seen answered is how much personal time do the hunters and fishermen put into cleanup of the woods and streams?" I would say none at all.  Fisherman have their jug fishing rigs spread all over the lake and I have found some along the shoreline, due to fluctuating water levels, which, by the way, obviously have not been checked in several seasons.  Last time I fished, the fish were in the water, not on dry land.  Also, the number of duck hunter who leave their spent hulls lying on land or floating around is ridiculous.  God forbid a duck hunter has to stick his fingers in the water to grab a hull.  They'll grab their duck, unless they are fortunate to have a dog, but, they won't grab that shotgun shell.  Most duck hunting gloves have Goretex in them.  After a hunt I would pick up spent shells on the way back to my truck just because it was sickening to see them trashing up the water.  In between seasons, during scouting, I would bring a trash bag along because I would eventually find spent shells.  I have even found decoys floating aimlessly around not attached to their anchors.  Those became my decoys.

2:55 a.m. on November 18, 2012 (EST)
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I dont agree with that at all. There is a good percentage of hunters and fisherman who do clean up after themselves and others. I never go fishing that I dont bring out a bag of other peoples trash. Day hikers leave as much trash in the woods as anybody, I hike mt mndk regularly and it is covered in trash every weekend. I think hikers spend more time on trail maint than hunters for sure, but you dont use trails to hunt. All groups of people should be more careful about what they do in the woods, espescially what they leave behind.

9:25 a.m. on November 18, 2012 (EST)
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Personally, I carry out not only my own trash, but also anything that anyone else leaves behind on the trail. There seem to be yahoos in every group, from the 'jeans and sneakers' hikers to the beer-can tossing hunters, and an equal number of responsible people who pick up behind them.

In Jasper and Banff, the worst are the foreign tourists riding the Brewster tour buses. If one person tosses their empty water bottle beside the path, everybody else does the same. I've picked up dozens in a day on popular tourist trails like Johnson's Canyon.

Other companies, especially those catering to Japanese and European tourists, tell them to carry their garbage out, but Brewsters doesn't bother. They're owned by Viad, a large multi-national that also owns things like that glass-bottomed Grand Canyon project, and their only concern is making as much money as possible.

The Nature Conservancy has tackled a number of large-scale projects in Canada that other groups are too small to handle, such as buying/leasing tracts of land next to Waterton National Park to extend grizzly bear habitat. I also see them at local recreation areas hand-picking invasive species from the marshes. Each NGO focuses on a specific task.

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