Hiking License

10:25 a.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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How do you feal about a hiking license? I don`t mean permits, but a seasonal license like a fishing or a hunting license.

10:50 a.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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Why add to the burden of peoples already shrinking income by giving the government more money to misuse...

1:00 p.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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Some areas already require a "hiking license" for day hikes as well as more extended trips. That is, you have to get an annual permit for the area, which in some cases allows you to buy a day permit to get in (double taxation?). Many of the Open Space Districts and County Park systems around here have such a requirement. It's just semantics whether you call it a license or permit.

Before you start arguing about the difference between a permit and a license, at least two states where I have lived called them "fishing permits" and "hunting permits", not "licenses". Yes, they were for the full season and not just a day.

And, the professional sports teams in this area require you to buy a season "seat license" before you can buy a ticket for an individual game or for a series of games.

As steven says, it's just another way to extract money to be wasted by the various governments. In the case of the OSDs and county parks (and the sports stadia and arenas), we are already paying for these operations through our taxes (in some cases, it goes toward the interest payments on the bonds that were sold to build the stadia and arenas).

3:02 p.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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Ah, the Land of the Free....

Oh, what?

I'm sorry, I meant the Land of the Taxed, Regulated, Controlled, and Dictated.

4:01 p.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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The Grand Canyon started charging for their backcountry permits in the late 1900s. $10 per permit plus $5 a day. I stopped hiking there when my annual budget could'nt handle an extra $150 a month.

Sedona south of Flagstaff, charges $5 a person per hike, plus $5 per vehicle to park it at a trailhead or anywhere in the area out of town.

Some places like the Paria charges even $5 per dog and $5 for hikers.

I hope to never see the day when unless one has a license to be in the backcountry, you could get fined or worse for going for a walk in the wilds!

6:02 p.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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I would venture to say that when it comes to the Federal, State & local governments finding new ways to generate revenue....we haven't seen anything yet.

I certainly don't mind paying my fair share, and doing some volunteer work to benefit my area, but as already stated there is an awful lot of waste and mismanagement, just based on what I have had first hand experience with.

I currently pay 10.00 per day to fish in other states (NC & TN).

25.00 or so for my states (SC) annual fishing license.

Various permits and fees for the privilege of using certain parks.

I don't mind....but the money should be used wisely, I hope it is.

7:01 p.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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I know hunters have to pay extra to use gamelands. Hikers, campers, bird watchers, etc get to use at no charge where allowed around the Carolinas. Hardly seems fair when they are already paying for a license to support the relevant state agencies.

7:57 p.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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I am a contrarian on this. I don't mind paying fees for park use. I paid $20 to get into Yosemite for a week. That was for my car. It didn't matter that I was alone or had a car full of people.

What did I get for $20? Use of the roads, people working hard to clear the snow and ice, park police, rangers, a place to park my car for free, use of the backcountry for free and free run of the park for sightseeing, if I wanted to do that. I think that's a pretty good bargain.

At least when I pay my $20 at Yosemite, I know where it's going. My tax dollars get spent in a minute or less every time someone pulls the trigger on a rocket or some other big weapon or goes who knows where for something else I have no interest in.

7:59 p.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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..... Hikers, campers, bird watchers, etc get to use at no charge where allowed around the Carolinas. .....

Aside from the facts that (1) in many areas, there is a daily or annual fee for anyone entering the managed land area, and (2) for all federal, state, county, and city managed land areas residents already pay for the services and management of the area through taxes of one sort or another, there is an additional cost for the federal, state, and local agencies related to hunting and fishing.

In the case of fishing, there is the cost of the hatcheries and stocking of the lakes, rivers, and other water bodies. Here in California (and many other states) there is the cost of dealing with invasive species (both animals and plants). For reasons that are beyond me, there appears to be a group of "fishermen" (note I intentionally put that in quotes, since they don't fish the way I do, and the way I am sure trout does) who have been intentionally planting certain species in lakes and reservoirs that they consider "more sporting" to fish.

Similarly, in the case of hunting, there are enforcement and game management issues that are directly related to hunting and hunters. Again, a lot of that has to do with so-called "hunters" who seem to want to go out of their way to violate the rules - those I saw last weekend, for example, who shoot from their big pickemups (why is it necessary to paint the truck in camo?), and some I have seen in the same area walking along the roads and shooting into the woods from the road (for those unacquainted with the hunting regulations, both are illegal in most, if not all, states).

I am sure that it would remain necessary to go after poachers in any case. But a number of those I am referring to do buy their annual licenses, then use them in the other sense of "license".

I might note that the National Park Service is planning (without consultation with the organized user groups) to impose what amounts to an annual climbing license on anyone seeking to climb in certain National Parks. This "permit" is for a full season, which in some cases amounts to a full calendar year. Mt. Shasta has had an annual license for at least 25 years (that's National Forest land). You can get a short-term permit instead. Whether or not you have the annual license or the short-term permit, you have to get a wilderness permit in addition for each trip up the mountain (or circuit hike).

Bottom line is, what BDO suggests has existed for a long time already. And, like everything else the governments at all levels charge for or regulates the price of, the cost is increasing far far faster than the increase in the CPI.

11:38 p.m. on September 13, 2010 (EDT)
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I was referring to gamelands in the Carolinas. The majority of hunters and fishermen follow the regs and report anyone who doesn't. The gamelands around here require sign in/out regardless of what purpose visitors are there for. There are alot of folks out there who are not hunters and DNR is just as responsible for them. Hunters play a major role in game management and state agencies set special limits for those areas based on biologist reccomendations. Hunters are also important for management of predators and invasive species like coyotes and feral hogs which destroy habitat and constanly expand thier range. The hunters still have to pay extra to practice thier sport on gamelands. I have no problem with that and would not mind seeing license price increases. I would also not mind seeing some lesser yearly fee applied to everyone else.

11:21 p.m. on September 14, 2010 (EDT)
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I'm going to be a contrarian on this one too. I'd venture to say that in most cases (with parks anyway) when there's a fee, it's to offset the cost of the services provided (or required) to maintain said area. In a park the need for a fee is pretty clear. There's boatloads of trash, law enforcement, facilities maintenance, park vehicle upkeep, and any number of other expenses without which the parks would quickly deteriorate.

It's a little less clear in the backcountry, e.g. needing a paid permit to "go for a walk in the woods". But it could be argued that in areas where wilderness permits, there's heavy traffic, so there's some enforcement required to ensure people don't camp on the soft ground around lake edges, cut live trees for campfires, dump garbage, and minimize the other goofy things people do. All of this costs money ... so it could be argued this is best be borne by the people who use the service.

So, back to the OP's question ... a hiking license? Hmm, well it depends :). What'll the fee be used for, and is it really necessary, or is it merely an administrative fee just for the purpose of revenue enhancement?

11:44 p.m. on September 14, 2010 (EDT)
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I wonder if we will ever have to take a hiking test?

One of the questions could be: If you are traveling uphill, and encounter someone traveling towards you down hill, who should step off the trail to let the other pass.

A. You should stop and have an agreement with the person after carefully considering the options.

B. The one with the biggest hiking stick stays on the trail.

C. You should both move off the trail.

D. The person heading downhill.


In all seriousness though I don't mind paying fees that are necessary to the operation and maintenance of an area. But having to purchase an annual license to allow me to hike seems screwy, unless it would give me free access to areas similar to the yearly passes already offered by many parks. Would it be something required in each state you visited? Seems like a big hassle to me, I would rather just pay per use / visit if I already have to show up and sign in somewhere anyway.

7:10 a.m. on September 15, 2010 (EDT)
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I wonder if we will ever have to take a hiking test?

One of the questions could be:

Now there’s an idea how to restrict backcountry access, require all applicants prove they are able footed with an agility test, say perform the Soup Shuffle or Moon Walk.
Ed

7:39 a.m. on September 15, 2010 (EDT)
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Actually LA County Department of Parks and Recreation have one of the screwiest fees I have heard of. They have a reservation system to book tee times for the public golf courses. It is quite a rat race; the reservation phone lines are constantly busy, and the courses book up quickly. But for an annual fee, you can book your reservation during the VIP reservation booking period, which lasts one hour before the non-VIP reservation lines open.

Ed

7:41 a.m. on September 15, 2010 (EDT)
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And, the professional sports teams in this area require you to buy a season "seat license" before you can buy a ticket for an individual game or for a series of games.

So Bill, if the Raiders have season licences, what is next, the CHP insuring speeding licenses?
Ed

8:40 a.m. on September 15, 2010 (EDT)
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I live near the A.T. which has been my escape most of my life. I would gladly pay a yearly fee as a hiker if it would help to enforce some of the rules already in place, such as no hunting whithin a specific corridor of distance from the trail, no biking, no motorized vehicles, no horses etc. And the obvious benefit would be trail and shelter facilities upkeep. This kind of benefit may work elsewhere also.

3:46 p.m. on September 15, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't know how everyone is doing but we are having a depression here in Southern California. I don't see why anyone in their right mind would want a permit to walk on public propriety.

1:58 p.m. on September 17, 2010 (EDT)
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I`m thinking in terms of actually strapping a pack on ones back and going out with the intention of spending the night out. Perhaps an x-tra tax on camping and hiking items.

6:29 p.m. on September 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Well I agree it would be great to have more money spent on Parks & wilderness areas, and it would be good to see more effort made to educate and enforce rules. I think there is more than enough revenue for that already, it is simply misused & mismanaged by the government. I see no reason to reward the governments bad management by giving them more money. Bureaucracies are just very inefficient in my opinion.

I would support (and do donate) more money being provided by private groups and organizations where the money is raised expressly for that purpose, and not funneled through the federal government.

Another way to help out is to volunteer if you can, I believe you get the most bang for your buck this way. I mean, if you give the government a days worth of your income, it would have much less impact than if you lost a days pay volunteering to do trail work or clean up work.

Does that make sense?

I realize volunteers can't enforce park rules, and probably a list of other things as well.

I just don't think more taxes are the answer, where will it end?

3:06 p.m. on September 18, 2010 (EDT)
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I think a key question here is how much are (free) trails "good for everybody" vs. just good for those that use them. By good for everybody I mean that the good physical and mental health that those who choose to hike sort of spreads out and has positive effects for other people as well. Fewer couch potatoes, less of a load on the health/medical system, diversion from less healthy or more destructive or undesirable activities, that kind of a thing. To the extent that it is good for everybody, there is a rationale for using genral fund taxes for trail maintenance etc. If it's really just a selfish few that benefit, then user-pays makes sense.

Here in Norway, most towns of any size have a free xc ski trail network that is groomed regularly and at least partially lighted at night using taxpayer money. (Weekend parking in some areas, however, costs between 5 and 10 bucks -- this is the opposite of a typical xc ski center in the US, where the parking is free but you pay upwards of $15 ahead to use the trails...). People, including families with kids, are out skiing and training on many weeknights as well as the weekends, and I would venture that it helps keep a significant proportion of the population healthy and sane through the dark winter months. I don't see anyone complaining about spending taxes this way, although the letters to the editor are full of all kinds of grumbling about lots of other issues including, for examples, user-pays taxes on studded snow tires.

I don't know if you could make quite as strong a case for longer trails in more out of the way places, but certainly the basic philosophy that access to the outdoors is good for the society as a whole is, I think, well-grounded.

Nevertheless, I could see some justification for relatively inexpensive "hiker's licenses" for backcountry areas, especially if it involved some kind of LNT and safety training.

10:31 p.m. on September 18, 2010 (EDT)
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The governments around the world are all bankrupt. They didn't live within their means. I don't think giving them more taxes or permit fees is going to solve anything. It will just make camping more inaccessible to the poor.

2:01 a.m. on September 20, 2010 (EDT)
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I understand the concept of trying to find creative ways to help protect trails, etc. However, when my budget is trouble, I have to find ways to deal with my own money. I don't get to charge those around me fees to feed or clothe them.

Doesn't this become a flawed circular logic? We rob Peter to pay Paul fixes what exactly?

By charging fees, the process lends itself to the old saw of "those who have, do..."

10:30 a.m. on September 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes I truely believe the rich should do more to help the poor, and anyone who can afford todays modern gear to go backpacking can afford a 1or2 cents more on outdoor products purchases.

12:00 p.m. on September 21, 2010 (EDT)
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I would support any type of fund raising that is voluntary. I don't support any forced contributions. Fees, Taxes, Permits, permission of any type is the government showing us they no longer maintain the land for us, it shows us they own it.

Taxing gear is already in place. I pay taxes on them each time I make a purchase.

3:41 p.m. on September 21, 2010 (EDT)
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I would support any type of fund raising that is voluntary. I don't support any forced contributions. Fees, Taxes, Permits, permission of any type is the government showing us they no longer maintain the land for us, it shows us they own it.

Taxing gear is already in place. I pay taxes on them each time I make a purchase.

If only reality was so simple.

I assume by your comment, you support the Nature Conservancy, or other NGO habitat custodial organizations, but I digress.

Let us not forget much of our outdoors is accessed by roads that serve little purpose other than delivering us to the trailheads of our hikes. These roads are much more expensive to construct than the sundry suburban avenue, and are more costly to maintain as well. Trail permits sometimes offset a portion of access road expenses, but in no way would they cover the full cost of all services associated with maintaining trails and access roads of our society’s open spaces, regardless how efficient the government conducted these activities.

You can rest assured there are plenty of Orange County, California, constituents that never go out doors, who chafe at the notion our general taxes should and are being used to fund recreational access. Their anti tax mentality has them all riled up at the notion that taxes of any sort are levied, let alone being spent on services they do not avail themselves of. Do anticipate like minded voters will apply pressure to eliminate earmarks funding outdoor access, and other special interest group projects they deem as “wasteful or superfluous” expenditures.

It is problematic identifying, measuring, and assigning the value of indirect benefits such outdoor access generates, let alone communicating such a complex topic to a society with an attention span and intelligence barely up to the task of being indoctrinated by wing nut Kool Aide. Alas, someone has to pay for all of this.

Ed

4:08 p.m. on September 21, 2010 (EDT)
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You will be wrong to assume anything. You use CA as an example... lets see.

The state could go into receivership at any time. Once the state issues bonds and nobody buys them it's all over. The real problem is no government is running on tax money collected. They are borrowing using bonds. No matter what tax you impose on gear. No matter what permits are used to make public lands permission only. You still face a complete disaster at the top. It isn't getting better it is only getting worse.

Lets say you make a camping/hiking permit. The permit cost say $10.00 per night. You just put every unemployed person that gets caught sleeping without a permit in the legal system. They are now outlaws waiting to get caught. Any kids backpacking (we know they have few jobs) are now outlaws. This is on public propriety! Needless to say I am opposed to a permit.

Now lets say the state goes into receivership. Do you think licenses will go away? NO way are they going away. They could triple because of the foot in the door policy. Lets take a fishing license as an example. In CA they are creeping up in price each year. Why? Because of the cost related to the state supplying fish to the lakes. Do you think they will ever come down in price? No way are they going down in price.

Taxes, permits, fees are all ways to transfer ownership of a public resource to a private government asset.

5:04 p.m. on September 21, 2010 (EDT)
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You will be wrong to assume anything. You use CA as an example... lets see...

..Lets take a fishing license as an example. In CA they are creeping up in price each year. Why? Because of the cost related to the state supplying fish to the lakes. Do you think they will ever come down in price? No way are they going down in price.

Taxes, permits, fees are all ways to transfer ownership of a public resource to a private government asset.

Actually I was making no such assumptions, and was not intent on addressing the macro economic consequences of our government’s budgeting and revenue policies. Likewise I don’t intend to explain why the cost of running fish hatcheries has gone up, like the cost of everything else private or otherwise, but suffice it to say California fishing permits have stayed about the same price historically, if you consider accounting for Federal Reserve Board’s impact on inflation, and the additional responsibilities that have been added to the Department of Fish and Game's mission.

Obviously you are anti tax, and I did not intend to ague about the philosophy underpinning your stance. In any case how California or other governments have gotten themselves in such deep debt is also well outside the scope of this thread. Brad (in his favorite role as instigator) has asked about a specific fee assessment; perhaps he also invites comments addressing other methods we should go about funding back country access and maintenance of related facilities; perhaps he also invites us to ponder what are the levels of service we expect. But I doubt he intended to open the topic up to macro economics or world hunger. That said, I am curious about the term “private government asset.” What exactly is a private government asset?

In any case, the question still beckons: How should we pay for the cost of the facilities and infrastructure related to outdoor access and recreation? You do not want a license/permit/toll/tax/fee – call it whatever you like – and have written at considerable length supporting this stance. You allude what you are willing to accept but provide not even a general explanation how this would work in reality, supporting the activities involved in running a state park, such as Montana De Oro, or a national asset such as Sequoia National Park. So if we don’t use taxes or fees to fund outdoor access and facilities, what is your approach, and where does examples of your funding model exist?
Ed

9:24 p.m. on September 21, 2010 (EDT)
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If you search state parks and budget you will get a sting of stories about state parks closing. Do a little more research and you will find in CA they got 112 million dollars this year and 140 million dollars last year. That is a lot of bread. I know money isn't worth anything anymore. Try putting some in the bank and you will find there is near no interest on it.

The state parks are truly an amazing place and I am sure you wouldn't have any trouble getting woofers to show up and work for room and board. You could even setup a schedule so they could go from one park to another. If there was too much demand for one park you might require some work at a less popular park.

I don't have all the answers but cutting costs is the only answer you should arrive at that will make a difference. Give me the budget to a state park and I am sure I can find some waste.

2:58 p.m. on September 23, 2010 (EDT)
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I won't tackle bureaucratic waste, it has always been a feature of government; it doesn't matter whether ancient Roman, Chinese, or CA.

In NH the F&G department is supported from fishing and hunting license fees; yet the dept is responsible for anything that goes in the woods or inland waters, e.g., snowmobiles, ATVs, powerboats, and lost hikers. No general funds supplement the license income - things are stretched tight. I would be happy to see a general license for the birdwatchers, hikers, canoeists, and other non-motorized users of the outdoors. This license might only be a few dollars, but would help the F&G budget. OTOH, I would like to see a massive luxury-tax style license for the OHRVs, ATVs, snowmachines, jetskis, and other smokies. (But that is because I am a curmudgeon.)

5:45 a.m. on September 24, 2010 (EDT)
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..Give me the budget to a state park and I am sure I can find some waste.

We can talk ad nauseam about bureaucratic waste – or not. Still the question beckons: who pays for it and how do you collect the revenue required to maintain outdoor recreation assets? If not by permit then how?
Ed

12:05 p.m. on September 24, 2010 (EDT)
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You want to sweep the real problem off the table and try to find an answer that won't help the situation. Also you ignore all of what I say about how fees and licenses make the public land off limits. You don't even ponder the idea of woofers or a similar program.

I think you have your mind already made up. More wasteful government fees and a license to walk around on public property. I can see it now.

YOUR PAPERS PLEASE.

3:16 p.m. on September 24, 2010 (EDT)
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I guess if the government can't do the job efficiently we should privatize -- sell off all federal and state lands to the highest bidder and let them show us how to manage it efficiently. Or maybe just contract out the day to day operation. But then, should private interests be allowed to collect fees to cover the costs? Or should we give them some taxpayer money to manage our public lands for us? Or we could just stop managing public lands altogether -- let the roads and campgrounds and trails melt away and let The People do whatever they want with the resource -- hunt, fish, build, burn, whatever.

I admit that I am being sarcastic here. I don't buy the line that privatization is the answer to everything. I think, as whomeworry says, that public lands to need to managed to handle the pressures put on them by users, that management takes money, including paid people, and that money has to come from somewhere. I favor a "general funds" type solution, but as tax revenues have been cut or spread too thin (maybe due in part but probably not in whole to bureaucratic inefficiency) maybe they aren't enough....

Multiple choice question: Which you rather have?:

a. (Slightly) higher state or federal taxes

b. Hiking permits

c. Undermanaged public lands (with the possibility of signifiant degradation)

d. Some form of privatization of public lands

Have I missed anything?

3:37 p.m. on September 25, 2010 (EDT)
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I would gladly have both A & B if it meant more benefits for the masses. And yes, to me socialism is not a dirty word or a form of government to be feared. All forms of government have their merits if we could only eliminate corruption. It`s not the word socialism, or the socialized mode of governing that is to be feared, it`s corruption that causes all governments to go bad and the overexpenditures on wars that can`t possibly be won.

10:59 p.m. on September 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Socialism = the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

Communist = a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.

So the government mismanages its resources at the expense of the people and your all for giving them communist power. I think that is what the government is after. Comrade Orndorff your papers please.

I don't see any example of communist states doing very well in the world. If you want the country to go in the right direction we need to rewrite the declaration of independence and substitute Washington DC for King George and England.

Your attitude is bourgeoisie. “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.” Vladimir Lenin

3:27 a.m. on September 26, 2010 (EDT)
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DrReaper said:

You want to sweep the real problem off the table and try to find an answer that won't help the situation. Also you ignore all of what I say about how fees and licenses make the public land off limits. You don't even ponder the idea of woofers or a similar program.

I think you have your mind already made up. More wasteful government fees and a license to walk around on public property. I can see it now.

YOUR PAPERS PLEASE.

No, actually I was trying to avoid getting into a political discussion, for reasons that I mention, in part, responding to another of your posts (below). I asked a simple question. Access to the out doors is facilitated by roads, parking lots, and enhanced with signage, toilets, and other infrastructure, all of which costs money to build and maintain. Since you do not agree how all of this is currently funded, what is your funding solution? 

DrReaper also said:

Socialism = the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

Communist = a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.

So the government mismanages its resources at the expense of the people and your all for giving them communist power. I think that is what the government is after. Comrade Orndorff your papers please.

I don't see any example of communist states doing very well in the world. If you want the country to go in the right direction we need to rewrite the declaration of independence and substitute Washington DC for King George and England.

Your attitude is bourgeoisie. “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.” Vladimir Lenin

Ok, you want to speak about politics and economics? I would be interested to know where you dug up the definitions of Socialism and Communism, they vary considerably from those I have been exposed to.

Mind you, I am no fan of Socialism or Communism, yet I have learned Capitalism is not the end all of economic models. For instance collective economies better suit non-industrialized societies, where human and animal power gets most things done, such as most of Sub Sahara Africa, and much of the rest of the third world. That includes the barn raisings we used to have, here in the good old USA.

Yes taxation can kill an economy, but Capitalism can kill a society. Consider man’s evolving intelligence occurs simultaneously across disciplines. Capitalism arose around the time when Darwin and others were exploring the constructs of evolution, and its underlying truism, survival of the fittest. Any student of Capitalism can easily draw parallels between the arboreal jungle Darwin describes, and the financial jungle Adam Smith prowls. And herein lies the problem; survival of the fittest (business) has nothing to do with quality of life issues. In fact unregulated Capitalism historically considers people with almost total indifference, as implied by the terms “factors of production” and “human resources.” But I digress. Just as Darwinian Theory describes how species will compete to the margins of sustainability afforded by the ecology, so it is true of marketplace competition under Capitalism. One maker of broom sticks underbids the competition; who in turn counter bids utilizing a more efficient means of production and so on; meanwhile both accepting lower profit margins until they have bartered each other to the bare minimum necessary to keep fed and sheltered. Thus the quality of life under Capitalism becomes a race to the bottom. Sometimes the biding dips below even this threshold, as one or both parties resort to child labor, other illegal practices, or the factory owner simply closes shop and reopens in another land with a lax regulatory environment, deserting entire labor forces, such as what happened to America’s manufacturing capacity. When there is an abundance of cheap and un-exploited raw resources, the capitalistic economic model more or less works to the general good. But in a crowded world with diminishing resources, access to transportation, medicine, potable water and even food are growing progressively scarce. Capitalism does nothing to address the issue of dwindling critical, finite, resources, let alone how to compete internationally with societies that do not ascribe to Capitalism as we know it. Meanwhile wealth begets wealth (it always has under ANY economic model) so the rich may never go hungry, but the have-nots will end up with even less wealth to afford the basics of life. It is this issue that in part drives contemporary politics like healthcare reform. Clearly this trend is not sustainable.

The model of Capitalism we currently tout is dysfunctional. Many argue Capitalism’s ills are the result of regulation, but wasn’t it lack of regulation that caused the atrocities of the past (e.g. sweat shops, pollution, monopolistic exploitation, etc)? Hence it is moot to argue one way or another, regarding Keynesian theory. The question isn’t to regulate or not; rather it is how to regulate to preclude parties taking advantage of loopholes in the system, at the expense of others, with such regulation imparting as little inefficiency in the system as possible. And what is Capitalism once you introduce regulation? (Fascism perhaps, but that’s another topic altogether!) More significantly, what will be the impact on Capitalism when essential affordable resources like energy, metals, and fertilizer are no longer available in the amounts necessary to sustain a status quo, let alone growing population? Lastly, Capitalism assumes a pyramid distribution of workers and wealth, with the young and unskilled comprising the base, paying their dues as it were, while business owners, entrepreneurs, and share holders occupy the top tiers, enjoying wealth earned largely off the backs of employees. What will be the impact of future demographics on this pyramid, of an aging population in an economy lacking sufficient opportunities for upward mobility, of rewards not commensurate to justify entrepreneurial risk?

As for politics, I am not convinced Democracy is all that it is cracked up to be. To be governed intelligently requires intelligent leadership. This is a major liability in Democracy. Intelligent leaders are only possible when the population votes intelligently. The problem is the vote of any intelligent person can be cancelled out by the vote of an idiot, and it seems the number of idiots – or at least uninformed voters – far outnumber those who can be regarded as intelligent. The other enemy of Democracy is apathy. And if anything can cause apathy it is our contemporary political landscape, with the power sharing parties showing seemingly little interest in the needs of the masses, while a nascent third party most notable for its rage gains momentum. This landscape – indifferent leaders and rage-full masses - is similar to that of the Weimar Republic, and we all know what happened there. I dread to consider what this cocktail of impatience, ignorance, rage, and hard times, will give rise to, given our troubled times. The cynical side of me thinks a voter intelligence test may not be a bad idea after all. Perhaps this is what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they establish America as a republic, yet now it seems to be floundering. (Sorry Brad, I think the topic of this thread has been eclipsed.)
Ed 

6:01 a.m. on September 26, 2010 (EDT)
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Well, before this thread gets frozen for going too political, I'll just say that whomeworry has identified a lot of what I see as the problems and complexities of unconstrained capitalism (= corporatocracy). While some people may think the "law of the jungle" is inescapable, I prefer to think we make real social progress when we are able to channel our basic impulses based on some reasoned understanding of greater good both in the current generation and, more and more importantly these days, several generations into the future.

Unlike whomeworry, I am a fan of socialism, if that includes the kind of European-style social democracy I live in (Norway). I pay a big income tax, a 25% sales tax on pretty much everything, I pay expensive tolls every time I drive into the city or to the mountains, and there are fees for this and fees for that that consume a hefty percentage of my income. In return I get a functional public health system, adequate schools for my children (including the heavily-subsidized school of music and arts where my daughters get instruction at a very low cost to us; even the privately-run international school is 80% subsidized), the free xc skiing I noted above, and any of a number of other perks. And I have enough money left over to use my five weeks of vacation (during which I get 13% extra vacation pay) to get out into the beautiful mountains, visit family and friends in the US, or maybe go to Iceland or the Alps instead. Newsweek's most recent ranking (http://www.newsweek.com/2010/08/15/interactive-infographic-of-the-worlds-best-countries.html) once again gives Norway the highest quality of life in the world, and includes it along with Sweden, Switzerland and Finland as among the top 10 of the "World's best countries". Everybody gets paid a living wage, there is no real poverty, the parliamentary political system is reasonably responsive to the will of the people... It more or less works, warts and all. it's not paradise (Michael Moore's assertions in the DVD extras to Sicko aside), I and most other people here can find plenty to complain about, including, yes, a certain squelching of individualism. You can argue that it's only possible because of oil revenue, but that's not true of Sweden, Switzerland or Finland. I am increasingly discouraged and pessimistic as I see the US fall into polarized bickering over issues that should have been settled long ago, in lieu of tackling issues that really matter and making real social progress.

And I think this is very relevant to the original question, because the user-pays approach embodied in a hiking permit would be big step away from the "socialistic" spirit that brought us the national parks and forests in the first place, making the US a true world leader in natural resource conservation throughout most of the 20th century. What would Yosemite or Yellowstone look like now, and how much would it cost to gain entry (if even possible) now, if they had fallen into private/corporate hands? We have free or low-cost access to public lands -- and the trails on them -- only because of a long, illustrious history of using tax revenues to keep them open and reasonably well-managed.

4:31 p.m. on September 26, 2010 (EDT)
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So if a hiking license was required, it would have the potential to make hiking a revocable privilege, would it not?

7:25 p.m. on September 26, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't understand the move to make a post off limits because of political thought when almost all of the collective problems we face become political. It is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. How would any debate come to an answer if they were all cut off? The obvious answer is they would not. What are you afraid of anyway? You have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Please remember the United States government is loosing 3.5 billion dollars a day. The states are in debt, the feds are in debt. They have built a skyscraper to the moon built out of playing cards. The entire system is broken. They also expect us to pay all of their bills. I just don't see it happening when you take the enormous amount of debt they have going.

A hiking license will take away your right to visit your own public land. Loose a job and guess what all those taxes become very expensive.

1:08 a.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Trout and Reaper:
I think we are tripping on semantics. While I can’t speak for others, at least my use of the term "license" in this context is construed to describe a document the holder is used to demonstrate they have paid a fee, thus their fair share of the cost involved maintaining The Facilities. Consider it a sales receipt or analogous to a ski lift ticket. I did not see it as a revocable privilege per se, though I imagine if you got caught trashing The Facilities the administrators (e.g. NPS) in charge of maintaining these resource would have the prerogative to fine you and/or boot your butt out of the park. And is that unreasonable? 

10:48 a.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes it is. Totally unreasonable. The land is public land and hence should not be owned by the government. We all pay taxes to establish these places and we pay taxes to maintain them.

I would bet a box of doughnut's that the money get diverted to some other spending anyway.

I would bring up the CA fishing license scam but I have to go to work.

5:12 p.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Something here needs to be defined:

The United States of America is not a democracy. It is a Republic. Liberty is the founding axial purpose and intent of its origin, constitution, structure, and law. All of the Macro social, economic, and political problems we have are caused either by a lack of knowledge and application of that fact, or by malicious manipulation of the public and private sectors towards operation as a either a pure democracy or socialist state.

A free market, governed by law protecting the rights and freedom of its members, is the only economic system that self-corrects and inherently causes negative consequences for usury, stupidity, and corruption. Of course law is necessary to protect the lives, rights, and freedom of individuals.

And yes, there is a fundamental difference between a License and other forms of revenue generation. A state issued license or permit bears the weight of the law and can be revoked. It places power in the hands of individuals when it is not necessary. The mere lack of a license becomes illegal instead of negligence, misuse/abuse of the land, or actual criminal acts. If revenue is needed to provide a baseline of modest access to our natural public resources, then that must be generated in a manner that places the least amount of power in the hands of public servants and officials, and has the least impact on the liberty and livelihood the citizens.

6:57 p.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Lets look at how fishing licenses work in CA.

The constitution of California says

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 1 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

Section 25. The people shall have the right to fish upon and from
the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof, excepting
upon lands set aside for fish hatcheries, and no land owned by the
State shall ever be sold or transferred without reserving in the
people the absolute right to fish thereupon; and no law shall ever be
passed making it a crime for the people to enter upon the public
lands within this State for the purpose of fishing in any water
containing fish that have been planted therein by the State;
provided, that the legislature may by statute, provide for the season
when and the conditions under which the different species of fish
may be taken.

Of course the state has a fishing license. It seems to me they are the ones breaking the law in CA. It gets worse. I want to purchase a fishing license today. 9/27/2010 a year license cost $41.50 well it expires 12/31/2010 not 9/27/2011

A day fishing permit is $13.50 two days is $20.75

So we have a constitution that the law makers ignore. What is the law of the land the constitution or the civil code? If the law makers don't have to site constitutional agreement or prove a new law is in compliance with the constitution what are the limits to their power? I think there are none at that point.

It seems to me the government is by the dollar and for the dollar.

7:09 p.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes it is. Totally unreasonable. The land is public land and hence should not be owned by the government. We all pay taxes to establish these places and we pay taxes to maintain them.

I would bet a box of doughnut's that the money get diverted to some other spending anyway.

I would bring up the CA fishing license scam but I have to go to work.

Excuse me for being confused by your comments.

As I understand the current arrangement, government doesn’t own public lands, they are trustees thereof, and as such are responsible for maintaining the facilities. I would figure this include protecting them from abuse. So if I go camping, use trail signs to fuel my illegal fire, defile lake and stream, and leave all manner of trash around my camp, no one should have the authority to fine me, or otherwise hold me accountable for my conduct?

That nice little bridge at the start of my hike cost money to construct. Whether or not the funds come from a general account, or permit fees, they do have to come from somewhere. Isn’t that a reasonable assumption?

There may be mismanagement of funds and budgets under government management, but the origin of these funds and their originally intended use doesn’t negate the fact outdoor facilities cost money. Is it unreasonable for the government to collect funds to finance construction and maintenance of these facilities? More specifically, is it unreasonable to require users of said facilities to shoulder a greater portion of the cost of maintaining these facilities, by levying one time or seasonal access fees?

Can we agree for the sake of this topic to ignore the fact government lackeys my be inept or corrupt, and miss-manage funds? That is a different topic. Even if we divined a policy to eliminate governmental inefficiency and corruption, it still does nothing to address the core intent of this topic: How should we pay for our outdoor facilities?
Ed

7:19 p.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Something here needs to be defined:

..And yes, there is a fundamental difference between a License and other forms of revenue generation. A state issued license or permit bears the weight of the law and can be revoked. It places power in the hands of individuals when it is not necessary. The mere lack of a license becomes illegal instead of negligence, misuse/abuse of the land, or actual criminal acts. If revenue is needed to provide a baseline of modest access to our natural public resources, then that must be generated in a manner that places the least amount of power in the hands of public servants and officials, and has the least impact on the liberty and livelihood the citizens.

So as an angler there should be no consequence for me fishing a stocked lake, regardless I have not paid for a permit whose fees are justified as covering the cost of running a hatchery?

And if I use TNT or some other unauthorized means to fish, or take undersized fish, there should be no consequence, particularly revoking my (license) access to fish?

If these are your assertions, how do we effectively act as stewards of these resources, with no power to protect them from abuse or freeloading use without paying a fair share for use?
Ed

7:28 p.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Hey Ed,

The point I am making with the CA constitution is they did make it illegal to fish. Other civil conduct aside the constitution says they can't make it illegal. I am not a lawyer but I think they are supposed to amend the constitution not make up a civil code.

The government books are the argument. If they can't maintain the parks in CA for one hundred twenty million dollars a year how much do they need? They certainly didn't cost that much in years past. As you look back in time they got a lot more done with fewer resources. They didn't need fees to run a hatchery they used funds from the taxes they collected.

I think many people are looking at the lack of funds for the reason to raise more money through confiscation. The way is see it the government needs to do more with what they have. They should also stop spending money they cannot hope to repay. Interest on the debt is growing at a rapid rate and at some point it will become a massive burden. Wait that has already happened.

7:45 p.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Lets look at how fishing licenses work in CA.

The constitution of California says

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 1 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

Section 25. The people shall have the right to fish .. .. and no law shall ever be passed making it a crime for the people to enter upon the public lands within this State for the purpose of fishing.. ..provided, that the legislature may by statute, provide for the season when and the conditions under which the different species of fish may be taken.

Of course the state has a fishing license. It seems to me they are the ones breaking the law in CA. It gets worse. I want to purchase a fishing license today. 9/27/2010 a year license cost $41.50 well it expires 12/31/2010 not 9/27/2011

A day fishing permit is $13.50 two days is $20.75

So we have a constitution that the law makers ignore. What is the law of the land the constitution or the civil code? If the law makers don't have to site constitutional agreement or prove a new law is in compliance with the constitution what are the limits to their power? I think there are none at that point.

It seems to me the government is by the dollar and for the dollar.

My reading of the code you site indicates it addresses the right to physically pass through and upon terrain with the intent to fish. It does not address if we are protected from having to pay to fish. But if you wish to employ a liberal interpretation of this code, claiming it in fact does provides such protection, then an equally liberal reading would counter, that the imposition a license fee is one of those conditions legislature has the prerogative impose.

As for being charged a full price for an annual license purchased, I think it sucks too – I usually fish only a few days each year. In a more perfect world they could prorate the fee, but imagine the confusion with accounting for revenue, and the onus placed on merchants conducting those sales to administrate this dog and pony show. As it is, many stores don't bother selling these permits because of the hassle, considering the merchant makes only 50 cents per permit. Do note, however, it is an annual license, not a one year permit. Semantics, perhaps. But simplicity and the fact they run things on an annual budget probably has something to do with this pricing model.
Ed

7:54 p.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I think it says I have the right to fish. I expect the lawyers have figured out a way to charge me for my rights.

11:27 p.m. on September 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I also think your redacted version of my post leads people to the wrong conclusion. The way I posted the quote from the constitution leads me to a different conclusion.

7:25 a.m. on September 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Big Red, you rock! Thanks for the insight.

11:11 a.m. on September 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Unfortunately, I suspect that the "conditions" clause at the end of the paragraph paves the way for licensure.

11:27 a.m. on September 28, 2010 (EDT)
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The use of TNT or overharvesting of a stocked resource are, and should be, prohibited. That falls under the application of law that I mentioned. Those present direct harm. Merely fishing or possessing a fishing rod does not present direct harm. If there is a need to generate funds, it should not be done in a manner involving the threat of criminal charges for non compliance with generating those funds. The Law should intervene when direct harm is presented, nowhere else.

If a hiking license were in place, it would be a criminally chargeable offense to be on public land (and possibly private) without possession of that license. It would be another unnecessary means of regulating, controlling, and keeping tabs on each citizen. If the infringement of Liberty is not absolutely needed to protect others from injury to their rights, freedom, and person, then it should not exist.

There are already hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into our parks and wild places. If there is mismanagement of those funds, and rest assured there is gross mismanagement, then that should be addressed. If after fiscal waste is eliminated there is still need for funding of specific locations, for parking, etc, then specific use fees can be applied. But enacting enormous license requirements backed by the force of criminal law will only waste more funds while unnecessarily robbing everyone of more liberty.

"He who trades liberty for security deserves neither and will lose both." -Thomas Jefferson

"They who would trade liberty for security soon have none and deserve neither" - Benjamin Franklin

It is appalling that so many today would trade liberty not only for security, but for the idol of convenience.

10:44 a.m. on September 29, 2010 (EDT)
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I also think your redacted version of my post leads people to the wrong conclusion. The way I posted the quote from the constitution leads me to a different conclusion.

It was not my intention to parse your quote to suit my opinion, I was merely attempting to place only enough of Section 25 in my response so others can determine which post I am addressing. My take on Section 25 pertained to the full reading thereof. Like Yock, I believe it gives the legislature authority to levy taxes or fees to maintain hatcheries, and grants them the authorization to assess fines or other penalties to those who don’t obey the “conditions.”
Ed

11:12 a.m. on September 29, 2010 (EDT)
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..If a hiking license were in place, it would be a criminally chargeable offense to be on public land (and possibly private) without possession of that license. It would be another unnecessary means of regulating, controlling, and keeping tabs on each citizen. If the infringement of Liberty is not absolutely needed to protect others from injury to their rights, freedom, and person, then it should not exist...

.."He who trades liberty for security deserves neither and will lose both." -Thomas Jefferson

"They who would trade liberty for security soon have none and deserve neither" - Benjamin Franklin

It is appalling that so many today would trade liberty not only for security, but for the idol of convenience.

Unfortunately if there is no consequence for scofflaws, it will be only a matter of time before few if anyone voluntarily pays for a permit, or their taxes for that matter. This amounts to theft. Certainly you don't mean to state Jefferson and Frqnklin think liberty is subordiante to theft!

People often belly ache when they are taxed for something they don’t use. And most people do not use the backcountry trails. Those folks think outdoors enthusiasts should foot the NPS bill. In an effort to appease this sentiment, the permit fee system was devised. So my question to you is: given the fees collected from permits are necessary to maintain the parks, how do you propose collecting these fees? What is the appropriate manner to deal with and discourage scofflaws?

Even Franklin and Jefferson would back with the force of law a toll road operator’s right to collect from scofflaws. And so it is with public facilities that require a token when a person avails themselves of the resource.
Ed

12:05 p.m. on September 29, 2010 (EDT)
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... Consider it a sales receipt or analogous to a ski lift ticket. I did not see it as a revocable privilege per se, ....

Oh, but a ski lift ticket IS a revocable privilege. Just read the fine print on your lift ticket from any resort. They state in so many words that your ticket can be revoked ("clipped" in the Ski Patrol jargon) if you violate any of the resort's rules. Plus, the fine print also says you can be barred from ever getting a lift ticket (season as well as daily) at that resort. Same goes for XC ski trails.

And no refunds if the weather is not suitable for skiing or the resort operators decide to shut down during the day for some reason.

10:06 p.m. on September 29, 2010 (EDT)
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gonzan said:
So my question to you is: given the fees collected from permits are necessary to maintain the parks, how do you propose collecting these fees? What is the appropriate manner to deal with and discourage scofflaws?

I propose that the USFS erect an entrance station at each trailhead to an HLRA (Hiking License Required Area). These stations shall be manned from dawn til dusk, year round, by a FLEA (Forest License Enforcement Agent), and said agent shall collect the appropriate "license fee" from each entrant. Should someone evade the license fee by entering after operating hours, and be caught, they shall be convicted of a Class B felony (Class A would mean imprisonment for life, and that might be just a tad too harsh) (random citation follows) [.]http://www.vanwagnerwood.com/CM/Custom/felony.asp].

National Guard troops shall be employed to patrol all HLRA's on a 24x7 rotation. They shall be armed, and should a potential unlicensed scofflaw attempt to escape, they shall be shot on sight (and on site). Those who are not shot shall be hog tied and carried to the nearest USFS ranger station for booking by federal authorities. Alleged perpetrators may or may not be eligible for a trial by a jury of their peers depending on the mood of the local county judge on the day their case is presented.

The aforementioned FLEA shall also interrogate each person exiting from the designated HLRA, to validate said person's Hiking License. Shall an exiting person not possess the required license, and be able to display demonstrable proof of payment, they shall be immediately apprehended as described in preceding paragraphs, and shall be permanently banned from all "public lands".

7:32 a.m. on September 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I`d be o.k. with that, but instead of imprisonment put them to work improving the trails and facilities. Liberty, only leads to sedition. But true liberty can be found in compliance with whatever laws the country you live in has enacted.

9:18 a.m. on September 30, 2010 (EDT)
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How terrifyingly short is the memory of our society. How blind to the current condition of much of the rest of the world.

The potential seed of base motive lies in the heart of every person, and always will. The liberty of the members of a society is the only thing that keeps its potential tyrants in check. Without Liberty, Law becomes Tyranny. And every society has its tyrants, only most live in a sheep's cloak of diplomacy and "public good." Every dictator and tyrant in a semi-educated society begins their campaign for influence and control under the same banner. Lenin Did. Stalin Did. Adolf did. Pol Pot did.

The sentiments you advocate are the wet dream (and policy) of Kim Jong Il, Than Shwe, Mugabe, Nguema, Omar Al-Bashir, Pol Pot, ad infinitum. Abusive Power, Murder, and Genocide are their modus operandi.

Sedition and revolt against any such as those, and the gradual creeping of policy that leads to their influence, is not just correct, it is imperative.

12:22 p.m. on September 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Stating the conditions under which one can take fish is one thing. Passing a law that makes it a crime to take fish is another. If a person goes fishing under the law in the constitution. They would be breaking a law and criminal under that law. However the CA constitution says no law can make fishing criminal act. Not having a license is a criminal act isn't it?

It's typical of a tyrant to try to impose there will with the threat of force. The entire government works on this premise. Their answer to everything is more government.

12:39 p.m. on September 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Just so there isn't any inflated extrapolation: Of course Law and Government are necessary.

But the Law and Government of a society only have authority and sovereignty because its citizens lend a small part of their own inherent authority and sovereignty in order that a limited set of tasks can be more effectually accomplished. But the Law and Government must never eclipse, threaten, or subvert the liberty and sovereignty of the individual.

Liberty without any Law is Anarchy, which is unacceptable. But Law without Liberty is Tyranny. Where Government is no longer a servant of the citizen, and the citizen is a slave and ward to the state.

1:27 p.m. on September 30, 2010 (EDT)
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We all have to pay for parks one way or another. Having to pay to access a park is a huge turnoff for me though. It makes it feel more like you are paying to for admission to a nature oriented theme park rather than venturing into the wilderness. It's only a matter of time before you have to wear a wrist band and have you're hand stamped for readmission when you leave. Not to mention that a large part of the fees charged go towards collecting the fees.

I'd rather pay for my parks through taxes. Having to buy a permit before venturing into the woods takes too much away from the experience.

7:17 p.m. on September 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Here in California, there will be a measure on the ballot (Proposition 21) adding $18 to the annual car registration fee to be used for the State Parks. Here is part of the report from KGO (ABC TV news affiliate):

SACRAMENTO, CA (KGO) -- A new measure has been certified for the November ballot that would provide permanent funding for the state's parks. There could be a new, one-time fee, but get into the parks free all year.

Whether you want to learn about California's history or just hang out on one of its beaches, an extra $18 annual surcharge on your vehicle registration will get you unlimited access to most state parks, a good deal considering some entrance fees are $15 each.

If the measure is approved by voters, the state wouldn't have to fund the park system; parks can instead count on $500 million in dedicated DMV fees every year.

"The initiative would provide a stable source of funding, take the park system out of the budget battles every year, and give us some certainty that parks are going to be maintained," says Jim Metropulos from the Sierra Club.

Years of budget cuts have caused a backlog of more than a billion dollars in maintenance projects. At the California Railroad Museum, for instance, a roof leaking every time it rains is just one problem.

"You have to cut back on staffing. You have to cut back on projects, basic maintenance and repair issues that we have to do. I know that throughout this district, many of our parks are closed on Mondays," says Kathy Daigle from the California State Railroad Museum.

I have not read the full text of the measure, but apparently those cars for which the surcharge has been paid will get the free admission to the parks. So it will depend on where on your renewal cycle you are.

12:06 a.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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CA Prop 21 Cons

Pro 21 is a cynical plan to bring back the car tax. Politicians in Sacramento are already scheming to divert existing park funds to other wasteful programs so overall park funding doesn't increase but car taxes do.

Typical of politicians to try to raise money for one cause and then spend it on another. The proof is in the pudding but I expect things like this. It's how the status quo operates.

We paid for the parks in CA to the tune of 120 million dollars last year. That is an expensive tune.

7:02 a.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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CA Prop 21 Cons...

Reaper:
You appar to dislike permits as a way to generate revenue, and you are against taxation (here a vehicle tax) in general to generate revenue. Those trail signs, parking lots, trails and access roads aren’t free. How do you propose to pay for this stuff? I am pretty much neutral on what source to use for park funding, and furthemore believe our parks are subsidized partly by taxes paid by businesses and folks who never use them. Not sure if that is fair or reasonable, but that is not the point. I only ask how you would collect revenues for the parks.
Ed

7:06 a.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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I propose that the USFS erect an entrance station at each trailhead ..

You left out the bit about electrified fences and predator drone overflights.

7:14 a.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Just so there isn't any inflated extrapolation: Of course Law and Government are necessary.

But the Law and Government of a society only have authority and sovereignty because ...

Geez! I must be missing something here. We're talking about speeding tickets and fines for unauthorized use of public property. Reprimands to this effect have existed in EVERY society since prehistoric times. Certainly you can't be serious that democracy and liberty are so fragile that we can't impose fines and other punishment, commensurate to the crime, without jeopardizing the sentiments behind The Constitution and the existence of our fine nation.
Ed

8:42 a.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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No, I am giving a reminder that the placement of law must only be where it is absolutely necessary to protect citizens from injury to their liberty, rights, and body. Sometimes that means law that addresses environmental issues. But a hiking license is not necessary and it is injurious to the liberty of everyone. A hiking license would not address a single positive outcome that cannot be accomplished in ways that do not hand over more of our freedom. Our government and its officials have forgotten that it and their offices only exist to SERVE the public in a manner that infringes on our freedom as little as absolutely possible. It has become licentious in operation, making regulation, placing law, consolidating authority, and reducing our liberty wherever it will make things more convenient for the state. It is a self fueling problem; with each new infringement of liberty the next is easier to take, and percieved as "needed" when it is not.

A hiking license is about convenience for those who control our natural wild public places.

3:38 p.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Our government and its officials have forgotten that it and their offices only exist to SERVE the public in a manner that infringes on our freedom as little as absolutely possible. It has become licentious in operation, making regulation, placing law, consolidating authority, and reducing our liberty wherever it will make things more convenient for the state.

Sorry gonzan, couldn't resist pointing out an amusing malapropism.

I've come around to thinking that a hiking license is a bad way to fund park/forest operations. I too don't like to think that I could get a ticket for walking on a trail on public land. As I indicated earlier, I think supporting parks with general funds is the way to go, on the principle that they are good for the society as a whole. This does mean that there must be sufficient general fund taxes to support this along with all those other government functions. This tax cut madness can only result in running the public infrastructure of the country into the ground, leaving every person, group, town etc. to fend for themselves as best they can. At best it's just plain mean-spirited; at worst, well, maybe there's a third-world country at the end of that particular road.

6:40 p.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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You appar to dislike permits as a way to generate revenue, and you are against taxation (here a vehicle tax) in general to generate revenue. Those trail signs, parking lots, trails and access roads aren’t free. How do you propose to pay for this stuff?

They are not reoccurring costs. You do not have to replace a trail sign each year you making them out of the wrong materials.The same goes with parking lots. Like I said before I would like to see where the money is getting spent.

I am not opposed to paying taxes. I am opposed to wasting tax dollars.

Certainly you can't be serious that democracy and liberty are so fragile that we can't impose fines and other punishment, commensurate to the crime, without jeopardizing the sentiments behind The Constitution and the existence of our fine nation.

We do not have a license to hike right now for a reason. The public lands are PUBLIC! By creating a license to access them makes them propriety of the state IMHO. They are already largely government propriety because there are already permits in my area and parking fees. A license would just add to the expense. Mismanagement is a bad thing for everyone. I don't want to see the back country turned into a speed trap.

8:29 p.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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bheiser1 said:

I propose that the USFS erect an entrance station at each trailhead ..

You left out the bit about electrified fences and predator drone overflights.

True, true ... and I neglected to mention the UHMDS (Unlicensed Hiker Missile Defense System) which shall be positioned at strategic vantage points along each trail.

But those were supposed to be a surprise for the unsuspecting scofflaw :)

8:37 p.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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As I read this thread, it occurs to me that nobody has mentioned Wilderness Permits. One must request (and in some areas) pay for access to designated Wilderness Areas. I guess this comes down to semantics, but isn't charging a fee for access to a Wilderness Area net net the same effect as requiring a "license"?

Why is nobody here up in arms about being required to show up at a certain time in a certain place, request access (possibly to be denied if "quotas" have been met), and in some places, required to pay for, access to "public lands" with the "Wilderness Area" designation?

I'm not arguing for or against it .. just wonder why nobody has mentioned it yet in this thread.

8:48 p.m. on October 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Also, remember to apply for not only your Hiking License, ... but your Dog Hiking License....

Do I need a permit?

A permit is required for hiking in Coyote Buttes North and South. Coyote
Buttes North fees are $7.00 per person per day and per dog per day. Coyote
Buttes South fees are $5.00 per person per day. If you take your dog into Coyote
Buttes South, the fee is $5.00 per dog, per day.

http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/arolrsmain/paria/coyote_buttes/permits.html#q1

:)

(I have neither been to Coyote Buttes, nor heard of it before now, but ran across this while looking for Wilderness permit info to cite here :)

(I know, I know, semantics ... License .ne. Permit) :)

8:42 p.m. on October 2, 2010 (EDT)
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I have always loosely considered a license to be a yearly occurrence granting you the privilege to conduct a certain activity, and a permit to be temporary.

I have an annual fishing license for the state I live in, and often get a 3 day permit to fish out of state.

Some of the places I backpack in require a permit so the Rangers know who is in the area, how many, for how long, and where you plan to camp. The permit is not an application for permission to access the area per se, but a way to manage the amount of traffic, and a way to make users aware of the rules for that area.

Other areas require a trailhead registration, you just fill out a slip of paper and drop it in the box provided, there are no Rangers or other personnel present.

There are also fire permits, and off trail permits.

So maybe a license and a permit are technically the same, but even my state and local governments seem to draw a distinction.

Kinda like the difference between revoked & suspended. You would think that a suspension would be temporary or conditional, and a revocation to be more permanent.

1:33 a.m. on October 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Well frankly now I'm impressed. I had heard of trail permits, but dog permit and fire permit and off-trail permit! What is next, dog-poo/pee permit?

1:20 a.m. on November 17, 2010 (EST)
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You appar to dislike permits as a way to generate revenue, and you are against taxation (here a vehicle tax) in general to generate revenue. Those trail signs, parking lots, trails and access roads aren’t free. How do you propose to pay for this stuff?

They are not reoccurring costs. You do not have to replace a trail sign each year you making them out of the wrong materials.The same goes with parking lots. Like I said before I would like to see where the money is getting spent.

I am not opposed to paying taxes. I am opposed to wasting tax dollars.

Here you go... happy reading

 

http://home.nps.gov/applications/budgetweb/FY2010/sbtoc.htm

8:59 a.m. on November 17, 2010 (EST)
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Unfortunately, that report doesn't show what the funds are actually being spent on, as it only gives the total fund amounts provided for each park or management area. New funds request are listed as well, with a broad statement of use, but not detailed at all. It would certainly be interesting to know how 2.5 million dollars are being spent at the Chickamauga Military Park.

10:12 a.m. on November 17, 2010 (EST)
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I'm a bit up in the air about this, but I think I could go with a hiking permit or license as long as the funds were specifically earmarked for outdoor areas. And I say that just because of a few things. One, there has been a lot of revenue over the years from fishing and hiking permits that have helped out with outdoor lands. But fishing and hunting licenses are in decline, so that means so is that revenue. But having a license or permit suddenly becomes problematic. Every place we go to is funded by a different pot of money. You go to a national park, its funded by federal funds. Go to a state park, it's state funds. So the question is do you have a national license, a state license? Both? What do these funds go for? Do they go just for wilderness areas or do they pay for wilderness areas or do they also help pay for historic sites like Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth home in Atlanta, as an example. Or here in Tennessee, the birth place of Sam Houston?

There's a certain part of me that would be okay with paying fees as long as it goes toward funding the areas it is supposed to. But there's another part of me that says its very problematic when you see there is a decline right now in the amount of people going to these places and enjoying the outdoors. The National Park system was created for the enjoyment of all, and to counter the European type model where almost virtually everything is in private hands. And to tell someone in order to hike they need a license or permit defeats that purpose to an extent. It also creates a model where the person who says, "Hey, lets go for a hike this weekend" can't go and it may be the only time that year when the person gets outdoors.

So, I guess my answer to the question is, if there was a fee would I pay it? Yes, personally I would because hell the outdoors means enough to me that I'd dig in the wallet to go hiking, camping, backpacking. But on a wider level, I'd oppose it. It would just leave to many people out.

3:23 a.m. on November 18, 2010 (EST)
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Again, I have no problem paying a fee to use a park or buy a yearly pass. When is the last time you went to Disneyland?

http://disneyland.disney.go.com/tickets/

Compare that to the US parks senior pass-$10 lifetime pass that gets you, your car, all its passengers in or if the park charges a per person fee, you and 3 other people.

Regular pass is $80 per year with the same deal-carload or pass holder, plus 3 people, kids 16 and under free.

Some states have similar programs for state parks.

Even if you consider that your taxes pay for some of it, parks are a bargain. Parks, btw, use a tiny amount of your tax dollars. Most of it goes to defense spending and other things you have no control over whatsoever.

7:28 a.m. on November 18, 2010 (EST)
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Think of all the money that would be freed up if we waged peace instead of war for special interest. The diseases that could be cured, the lands that could be saved. Twenty thousand children will starve to death today and another twenty thousand will die from easily preventable conditions. Yea the money is tight but its because of all our over expenditures on funding wars that can never be won.

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