What do Hikers/Backpackers FINANCIALLY contribute to maintain wilderness?

9:56 a.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm a hunter, fisherman, gun builder, etc and I know that because of my purchase of "tax stamps" for hunting and my purchases of guns/gun parts/fishing equipment/hunting equipment, etc that I am supporting the maintenance of wilderness habitat because there is an 11% excise tax on hunting/fishing/gun related items that is a dedicated tax going to support the lands. "Tax stamps" like duck hunting stamps, big game stamps, upland bird stamps, which are required taxes if you hunt, are also dedicated taxes for habitat preservation, game management, wilderness maintenance, etc.

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But the above sign got me to wondering, if we, as hikers/backpackers actually contribute to maintain the lands we use? Sure, in some areas we pay a pittance for a backcountry pass on some of the properties, but other than that is there any real tax that we pay? Are we freeloaders who use the land and don't financially contribute to it with tax dollars?

Oh sure, we may be members of various hiking groups who go clean land. Or maybe we are members of a group that creates a trail. But do we financially contribute to the purchase and annual maintenance costs of the wild?

Are there outdoor use taxes on our tents? Boots? Backpacks? Stoves? etc or are we freeloading off of other outdoor groups and using lands without real contribution? I'm clearly uncertain if we are contributing financially. Not just with regular sales tax dollars, but is there some special excise tax that we pay to help support the lands we love? I simply don't know. Anyone have a clue?

11:14 a.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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"Freeloading" is a loaded term fraught with difficulties.  (It also brings to mind Freddie the Freeloader which isn't a bad thing.)

Black bears are freeloaders, newts and ravens, turtles and snakes---all freeloaders.  So there must be a sort of birthright attached to existing on a patch of land, as the animals do.  So too the humans.

Beyond this, I believe there's something called Income Tax which is everyone's backcountry pass to wilderness and national forest lands.  As citizens we participate in not only the income tax system but in sales taxes and excise taxes and FICA taxes and gas taxes and all the rest. 

Take the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System.  Aren't we all freeloaders using the Interstate?  Or should we, with your recommendation, make every interstate a Toll Road?  Why not?  Just as gasoline has a tax for roads, the general population is taxed in numerous ways to access our public lands---wilderness, parks, national parks and national forests.

Hunters, fishermen etc are taking something from the land---different than hikers or backpackers---so they pay a tax fee.  And for gun owners, think of all the lead they leave in the forest.  (As litter in my opinion).  Lead is toxic.  It was only recently that shotguns were required to stop using lead pellets.  So shouldn't these guns be taxed with extra fees?

1:09 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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So what you are saying is that no, we do not contribute to support the land we use, other than with the same taxes that everyone gives (ie: Income Tax)? But there is apparently no excise tax on our gear? Or boots? Or the maps we use that require the use of US survey crews to optain?

Regarding the hunters and lead, you do know that lead is naturally found in every forest, every mountain, every valley of this and every other land? EPA toxicology reports show that lead bullets have had a zero effect on the land, the banning of lead bullets has been a politically inspired ban, pushed forth almost entirely by anti-hunting groups and their allies, despite the science that refutes them.

And further, many of us hunt on private lands, not on federal lands. My corn and soybean fields see hunters every year, as do the surrounding fields for much farther than the eye can see.

Further, with regard to hunting/fishing as "TAKING" from the land, the opposite is actually true because hunters are the only reason that many species have been reclaimed from near extinction. The lowly TURKEY was extinct in many states due to loss of habitat from farming. Ditto the WHITETAIL DEER, which nearly vanished from large swaths of the midwestern states. Due to the revenues from sport hunting/sport fishing these, and many other, species have been reintroduced and saved from near extinction. Populations are often greater today than they were 125 years ago.

Land has also been purchased by states, using the money from hunting/fishing excise taxes. That is the very same land that I find myself hiking on weekends. So without the revenue from the special excise taxes those lands that we hike would never have been purchased and reclaimed, or preserved.

1:16 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Melen,

You bring up an important and awkward point. Because of legislation like the Robertson-Pittman Act, hunters and fishermen pay almost all of the conservation money available to Federal agencies.

For years, there have been battles fought to tax things like binoculars, bird books, packs and hiking boots. Taxes on guns, ammunition, some fishing equipment in addition to lisceneses, fees and stamps are what pays for a lot of conservation projects. The system is not equitable. It would help a lot to figure out a way to increase revenues from so-called non-consumptive sports like backpacking.

1:34 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Melen,

You bring up an important and awkward point. Because of legislation like the Robertson-Pittman Act, hunters and fishermen pay almost all of the conservation money available to Federal agencies.

For years, there have been battles fought to tax things like binoculars, bird books, packs and hiking boots. Taxes on guns, ammunition, some fishing equipment in addition to lisceneses, fees and stamps are what pays for a lot of conservation projects. The system is not equitable. It would help a lot to figure out a way to increase revenues from so-called non-consumptive sports like backpacking.

 

Well I was asking.

Honestly I didn't know/don't know the answer to the questions that I asked above.

But with the BS happening in Washington now over the budget, and the huge shortfall in revenues compared to spending, I was wondering if we, as hikers, have a legitimate claim to the land that we use because we financially support our land.

Hunters can make the claim that they should be able to use the land because they do actually pay for the land. Ditto fishing, since the special taxes on equipment pays the bills, in addition to license fees.

Can we as hikers/backpackers make the same claim?

1:41 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Tipi Walter said:

....Take the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System.  Aren't we all freeloaders using the Interstate?  Or should we, with your recommendation, make every interstate a Toll Road?  Why not?  Just as gasoline has a tax for roads, the general population is taxed in numerous ways to access our public lands---wilderness, parks, national parks and national forests.....

 Walter,

Careful there! Barb and I just got back from Austria where the equivalent of the Interstate System is ALL toll roads. Our rental car had a "vignette" attached to the windshield, which was a sticker showing that the quarterly toll tax had been paid. This was enforced by a system similar to the one used here in the US by truckers, where sensors are placed at the weigh stations in the US, but every so many kilometers on the autobahns in Austria and other countries (if you go from one country to another, you have to get the appropriate vignettes). If you hint too much (indirectly), the nanny state will add universal toll roads, socialized medicine - oh, wait! that's called Obamacare!

melensdad,

This debate/argument has been visited several times on Trailspace before. The thing that is often overlooked is that the Birdwatchers (in the form of the Audubon and a number of other birdwatching organizations), hikers/backpackers (through the various trail organizations, such as the ones that Seth works for - AT, PCT, CDT, plus work parties that the Sierra Club and a number of other organizations run), climbers (through events such as the annual Yosemite Cleanup Days and Tuolumne Restoration, both of which were held recently as they are every year), and even some of the off-road motorcycle and ATV groups(despite their outlaw reputations - there are bad eggs in all user groups), do get out there and do trail maintenance and cleanup. That is, these user groups actually get out there and do the muscle work, not simply pay a tax and hope some government-paid workers or prisoners are taken out to the woods and hills to do the hard labor. Here in Calfornia (and other places I have lived and visited), the California State Parks Association and Sempervirens Fund have regular "park volunteer days", sometimes with the benefit in those parks which have campgrounds of a night of free camping or sometimes a "free" lunch.

Plus - there are organizations, some mentioned above, like The Nature Conservancy, The Access Fund, and the American Alpine Club, that make outright purchases of land that is then handed over to the National Park Service and other government agencies to be preserved and maintained for outdoor recreation.

In addition, Audubon and other organizations work with landowners to set up land management areas that mutually benefit the landowners and the "birdwatchers", such as the Consumnes Preserve here in California (this is in the Central Valley, with the migrating birds helping with pest control, among other landowner benefits).

In other words, birdwatchers, hikers, backpackers, climbers, and others "pay" through sweat equity and through outright purchases of land. The things I listed are only a small part of what the birdwatchers, hikers, backpackers, and climbers are and have been for many decades doing.

I would suggest that instead of the hunters moaning about the taxes they are paying, maybe they should, like the fishermen, get out there and add some muscle and sweat in addition to the tax and permit payments. We all are paying taxes that are used for the parks and forests. Oh, and in most states, there are "adopt-a-highway" programs that get people out there to help pick up the trash so many thoughtlessly toss out their car windows.

Lest we forget - the birdwatchers, hikers, backpackers, and climbers spend money in the towns that access the woods and hills, which benefits the local economies directly (bypassing the government rake-offs).

1:52 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S, understand that I am NOT trying to argue here, I was asking a question.

But in reply to your statements about all the groups that get out and do "trail maintenance" and similar activities, realize that hunting/fishing groups do the very same thing. I personally volunteer with the I.D.N.R. to train children in rifle marksmanship. And contrary to what you wrote, I've NEVER heard the hunters COMPLAIN about the taxes they pay, in fact they more often are proud of their contributions via the taxes they pay.

To boil everything down it seems like Hunters/Fisherman are the ones who actually pay the bills.

Everyone contributes with volunteer work in many different ways. This is true of the hunting groups, the hiking groups, the fishing groups, the birdwatchers, etc etc

And we each spend money in the towns we visit. Whether we have our hiking boots on, or whether we tow our fishing boats, or carry our hunting rifles or simply sport our bird watching binos.

And the large groups from each activity, be they Audubon or the National Shooting Sports Asso, work with land owners and government to help set aside land for recreational use.

But the fact of the matter is that, if I read what you wrote correctly, we are actually riding on the backs of the hunters and fishermen who really pay the bills.

1:56 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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So, should we therefore make the Interstates toll roads??

Hunters bringing animals from the brink of extinction??  Let's study our history.

**  Passenger pigeons in the "billions" hunted to extinction in 1896.

**  North American bison almost wiped out by hunting from 60,000,000 to 750,000 in 1890.  Currently there's 360,000, a fraction of the number.

**  California grizzy bear, the Golden Bear, last one shot in 1922.  And yet it's the symbol on the state flag.  Ironic.

**  Carolina parakeet last one killed in 1904.

**  Whooping Cranes estimated 10,000 before settlement and down to 15 by 1938 due to hunting.  Current population due to strenuous breeding up to 600.

**  Grizzly bears in the lower 48 are 2% of their former numbers and were wiped out due to over hunting.

And then there's the type of hunter called the Poacher---trying to wipe out gorillas and wild tigers and all the rest.

ppine---All the gear I buy in TN is already taxed 10%.  Would you also include a tax revenue for dayhikers?  How about a $20 fee for each car on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Tail of the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway and Route 441 going thru the Smokies??  Here's one I'd like to see---a $1,000 Noise Fee for zooming, screaming and roaring motorcycles on these and other roads.

Finally, many Parks already have user fees for overnights and for backpacking---Yellowstone is $25, Olympic is $5 to register and $2 per night, GSMNP has a reserve fee and $4 a night, Utah parks have fees, etc.  So, it's already been done.

2:00 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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TIPI, interesting that you blame modern hunting for abuses that are quite literally over 100 years old, some of which occurred when states were not even states in these United States. But even so, modern hunting's impact on the sport of Backpacking cannot be denied if you consider that hunters/fisherman are actually paying the bills.

As for species like grizzly bears and wolves, those were not hunted out by hunters, but rather were killed out to protect people under misguided political policies.

Poachers are not hunters, and hunters actively work to catch and prosecute poachers.

As for the park fees that you list, are those not also paid for by others who use the parks?

But I do have a question, what tax in TN is 10% for the gear you buy? Is that your state sales tax? I am under the impression that its 7% on most goods but 5% on necessity items like food.

2:09 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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2:14 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Melensadad---modern hunting's impact on the sport of Backpacking cannot be denied if you consider that hunters/fisherman are actually paying the bills.


Exactly what bills are they paying and to whom?  The govt?  The state?  Where exactly does a dollar from a hunter go?  And how about a dollar of my sales tax or income tax?  Can you prove that every dollar I spend on my different taxes DO NOT go to the "maintenance of wilderness habitats"??(your words).  You'd have to be an expert on finance to figure out if any of my tax money does not go to these habitats.  Once that is figured, then we can talk.

2:14 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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TN sales tax is almost 10%.  See

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/14/tennessee-sales-tax-rate-highest-among-50-states/

 

OK, but that is not a "gear tax" as you implied earlier. That is no different than the sales tax in Illinois, which then overlays an additional county sales tax, and then, in Chicago overlays an additional city sales tax.

So Tennessee may have a slightly higher tax than some other states, but its not a gear tax, its just the tax used to pay for your state government and services, no different than any other state which has to provide services to its residents.

What you wrote seems to simply reinforce what I am gathering from Bill, that is that we, as hikers/backpackers are not, in fact, paying our way to support the lands that we use.


Exactly what bills are they paying and to whom?  The govt?  The state?  Where exactly does a dollar from a hunter go?  And how about a dollar of my sales tax or income tax?  Can you prove that every dollar I spend on my different taxes DO NOT go the "maintenance of wilderness habitats"??(your words).  You'd have to be an expert on finance to figure out if any of my tax money does not go to these habitats.  Once that is figured, then we can talk.

 

Something to the tune of 62% of the revenues garnered from the excise taxes go directly to the habitat. Do some simple research, don't believe what I write but instead look them up.

2:15 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Many of the big gear companies contribute to environmental concerns, using money we send them for gear, clothing, etc.

Trailspace participates in 1% For The Planet - here is their info page .

There are plenty of opportunities for backpackers, hikers, runners, climbers, etc. to donate money or help out. Sierra Club - EPA volunteers - Trout Unlimited - Trail Maintenance - on & on.

When I go backpack-fishing in another state I have to purchase a non-resident permit. It costs roughly $10 per day to trout fish in TN unless you opt to buy the annual non-resident permit which cost $81. In NC the annual non-resident license is only $10, the same as NC residents.

We can all be aware of LNT principles and help preserve pristine or sensitive areas.  I also think getting directly involved is great because you can have close to a 100% return on your efforts (minus your auto gas or tools for trail maintenance, etc.)

A good topic.

 

 

 

 

2:19 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Mike, understand that gun companies do the same thing. Archery companies do the same thing. Fishing companies do the same thing. Boat manufacturers do the same thing. Many of the clothing companies that make hunting clothing are the same that make hiking shorts, etc.

I am not arguing.

I am simply asking if we, as hikers, pay our way in the form of financial support similar to the way that hunting/fishing pays its way.

For those who think I am arguing, please look at the thread title, it asks a simple question.

Further re-read the first post, it asks if we pay a tax in the same way that hunter/fishermen pay.

2:57 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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This was tried before, see--

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19980905&slug=2770263

Isn't there a Beatles song about all this?

"Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don’t take it all.
‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
Yeah, I’m the Taxman."

"(If you drive a car ), I’ll tax the street,
(If you try to sit ), I’ll tax your seat,
(If you get too cold ), I’ll tax the heat,
(If you take a walk ), I’ll tax your feet.
Taxman."

If hunters don't like it either change the law or don't hunt.  The "backpacker's tax" was never implemented as above, possibly to dayhikers howling.  Maybe hunters should howl??

Or how about going the Beatles route and creating a whole new bunch of taxes---use your imagination.  A bowel mvt tax for excessive flushing?  A gender specific urine tax? (men with enlarged prostates waived).  Just put a simple meter on all toilets.

How about an excise tax for not exercising?  Something to amuse linguists.

2:57 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad said:

.....What you wrote seems to simply reinforce what I am gathering from Bill, that is that we, as hikers/backpackers are not, in fact, paying our way to support the lands that we use.

 Whoa! You should read what you are saying. You wrote:

I am NOT trying to argue here

Yet you do not seem to have read what Walter, Mike, and I wrote. You are repeating what many of the hunters say, which in essence is:

"We, the hunters, pay hard cash directly to the government in the form of taxes on ammunition, etc, while the rest of you backpackers, hikers, and the wimpy birdwatchers pay nothing," The implication is that hard money donated and contributed directly to the parks by The Yosemite Foundation, for example, is worthless, and that direct sweat and muscle is irrelevant.

That sounds a lot like "arguing" to me. It also sounds a lot like complaining that "hunters are the saviours of the wilderness and the rest of the users are scum." Hopefully, that is not what you meant, but it sure reads like it.

One of the sections of California's income tax form has a number of choices to check off for direct donation, including the parks, wildlife funds, and similar worthy causes. If you look at the federal budget, a certain fraction goes directly to the National Forests and Parks.

Somehow, you are differentiating between certain specific items purchased by hunters that are taxed (ammunition, for example), and not ones that are used by the non-hunters (though binoculars and boots are used by hunters as well as birders and hikers). You seem to be advocating that ALL items should be taxed, even for people who do not ever get into the woods or hike on trails, or even get out of the City. Now, are you saying it would be fair to tax people who never use the resources at all to help pay for the resources that are only used by the hunters? Should a portion of my vegan neighbors' fruits and vegetables be taxed to help pay for the carnivore hunters' cravings for trophy deer antlers and meat from game (personally, I do not eat farm-raised red meat, though I do eat game, such as caribou, musk ox, and moose)? I do differentiate between "trophy hunters" and "meat hunters" (hunting is where my family got much of its meat when I was growing up).

You are entitled to your opinions, of course. But it does seem you have your mind made up and that you regard opinions counter your own as irrelevant.

3:23 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill, someone who buys a handgun for self defense, and buys ammo to train with for self defense pays to support the wildlife that he/she never goes into. In fact, if you look at shooting demographics, new shooters who have entered into shooting over the past 5 to 10 years are increasingly FEMALE, YOUNG and URBAN dwellers. They do not hunt. But their excise tax dollars do go to the land that you and I use for hiking.

IDPA shooters have no desire to hunt but burn through thousands of rounds of ammunition training each month and pay into the same funds, via taxes, that duck hunters pay.

In fact hunters are in the minority in the shooting sports, yet all who participate in shooting sports, or self defense, pay into the same excise taxes, at the same tax rates, which go to support the wilderness lands. The #1 shooting sport is actually Trap shooting, it bears little resemblance to any real world hunting activity. Cowboy Action Shooting is another major shooting sport that has zero application to the wilderness lands, no different than IDPA or USPCA or 3 Gun, etc. Target archery, 3-D archery falls into the same boat as hunting archery when it comes to paying the wilderness taxes and yet I know many people who are involved in archery that NEVER hunt, yet they pay the very same excise taxes as the hunters because their gear is taxed under the same law.

And yes, I do advocate that we all pay our fair share. But that is not the topic of the thread.

Much as you say I am arguing, and much as you say I need to reread some of the posts, I think I have grasped those posts very accurately and noted that, in fact, none of you have indicated any types of financial support for our way of life that is extraordinary, in the way that hunters/fishermen provide. All groups donate to the land voluntarily. All groups have members who volunteer their time. All groups have corporate angels who lead the way. So basically all pretty much do the same things. But the laws of our land also extract extra from hunters/fishermen that apparently do not affect the rest of us.

I simply asked if there were special taxes we paid, because its something that I did not know the answer to.

<

If hunters don't like it either change the law or don't hunt.  The "backpacker's tax" was never implemented as above, possibly to dayhikers howling.  Maybe hunters should howl??

 

Tipi, I believe that I said that hunters/fishermen are actually proud of the amount of taxes they have paid. Never once did I imply they complained about it. I just asked if we, as hikers/backpackers pay our fair share.

I gather that without other groups supporting our hobby we would have far less lands on which to walk.

5:55 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad said:

....Tipi, I believe that I said that hunters/fishermen are actually proud of the amount of taxes they have paid. Never once did I imply they complained about it. I just asked if we, as hikers/backpackers pay our fair share.

 Hmmmm.... Somehow, making comments about or implying how unfair it is that hunters have to pay a use tax while others do not sounds like "complaining" to me.

Anyway, let me ask this, melensdad, to clarify what you are saying -

My understanding has always been (from what the state of California and other states I have lived in publish) that the tax on ammunition and required special hunting license pays for, among other things, hunter safety training, enforcement processes, and other activities directly related to hunting. That seems a reasonable justification and use of the fees to me.

But I would note that when I was growing up a few decades ago (greater than a half-century), the rule in Arizona was that a kid could hunt on his parent's license, as long as he was accompanied by the parent under the age of 14 or 15 (I don't recall the age break, since it was a loooonnnngggg time ago). I started hunting with my father by age 8 or 9 (and got my deer each year - bucks only allowed at that time). We had no formal Hunter Safety Training at the time since it was the parent's responsibility. I believe it was the same in most of the Western states. When you got to a certain age (long since raised by several years), you had to get your own separate license.

This was similar to the rules for driving. You could drive on the farm or ranch (no public roads) at any age you could reach the pedals, and in any vehicle. I learned first on our Ford tractor at about age 8, then got to try the pickup at age 9, though I was too short to reach the pedals. You could take the Driver's Ed class in high school at age 14-1/2 (we moved to California, where Driver's Ed was a required class at 14-1/2, then you got a Learner's Permit at 15 to drive under parent's supervision, with the license coming with passing the driving test at the state DMV office at 16. California laws have since changed to getting a Driver's license at age 16 after going to a commercial driving school course (no more Driver's Ed in the public schools), which was like the old Learner's permit - drive under parent's supervision for a year, then youth alone in the car until age 18 before you could carry passengers under 21 or so. You paid a fee for each of these licenses/permits. My understanding was, and is, that the fees go for driver safety activities, enforcement processes, and other activities related to driving (including partial support for traffic enforcement activities by the Highway Patrol and local Police Departments). 

Vehicle registration fees go for highway maintenance primarily, as do a portion of the taxes on fuels (not sure how electric cars pay for their share of wear and tear on the roads).

Now, these fees and taxes are going, in large measure, directly toward training and enforcement, as well as usage of the roadways, in direct analogy to the hunters' fees and permits going directly to training and enforcement along with usage related to hunting.

Let's take this a step farther - I have a neighbor, in his 90s, who gets around in his electric motorized wheel chair. He travels on the streets (rapidly, I might add). He has no "wheelchair operators license" (there is no such thing), and since he uses electricity from the house to charge the battery, pays no vehicle license or fuel taxes. By analogy of your argument that hikers should pay a "boot use tax" or something of the sort (required odometer, so you pay by the step??), shouldn't he be paying for use of the roads? Shouldn't he be required to take "wheelchair safety training" and enforcement (yes, you can get a ticket for DUI in a wheel chair)? Oh, yeah, he gets to use the sidewalks, along with paved and unpaved hiking trails for no fee, as well as the streets.

Right now, the money to cover his usage of the roads, sidewalks, and bike/hike trails comes from property taxes, sales taxes, and, yes, motor vehicle fuel taxes. Yes, I know, his use of the roads and paths falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The point here is that hunters get some extra things that hikers and backpackers do not that are directly related to the hunting activity - hunter safety training (you don't want novice, first timers, or other untrained beginners wandering the woods with loaded guns, do you?), enforcement (to take care of the poachers, etc). So they pay extra for the extra benefits.

9:02 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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If I'm understanding Bill correctly, hunters are charged for services rendered, like safety training, and law enforcement. That sounds like a fair deal.

One can assume they are also paying for the meat they get from hunting by buying a license. Or are you suggesting that hunters should be entitled to free food when they kill something every American owns? By that argument, every slaughterhouse worker would immediately own every cow they slaughter whether they are the owner or not. 

Everyone (whether a hunter or not) already pays for access to wilderness areas via their taxes. I assume users of the national parks pay admission to get in, and those fees cover park maintenance, search and rescue, and other costs. But hunters outside the parks need the same support - what are they doing, beyond paying for a hunting/meat licence, to help cover those additional costs?

Tipi Walter said:

Hunters bringing animals from the brink of extinction??  Let's study our history.

Agreed 100%. Once you cross the border from Alaska into the Yukon, you immediately see a drastic increase in the number of wild animals. The difference is that most people in Alaska have guns and most of them hunt.

Here's one I'd like to see---a $1,000 Noise Fee for zooming, screaming and roaring motorcycles on these and other roads.

YES!!!!!

9:48 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter,

I will have to say that the whole question of fees, permits, licenses, etc, charged by governments (not just in the US, based on my experience, but in most countries I have been in more than a few days) is pretty arcane and byzantine. It has never been clear to me exactly what the relationship is between the fees charged for licenses, permits, and taxes (sales, VAT, property, income, use, or the most obscure to me, "net worth tax" charged in Florida and Switzerland among other places) and the supposed return in terms of services, such as enforcement of regulations, condition of the roads, training, health benefits, SAR, and so on.

I could recast melensdad's question as "just exactly what is the money I pay in taxes, license fees, etc, going for?" He expresses it as "what do I as a hunter get for my money that hikers and birdwatchers are not getting unfairly for free?", which is a somewhat fair question - EXCEPT for the fact that there is really no open and transparent accounting for what happens to the money collected for all these fees and taxes charged for anything in ANY country on Earth. What happened over the last 6 months or so here in California is a good example - for a number of years, the state has been running an increasing deficit and cutting programs. Lots of special interest groups have been screaming because their particular ox was being gored. But suddenly, as the local economy improved, there appeared a surplus as big as the past deficits. Did the legislature and governor move to replace the cutbacks imposed on, for example, the State Park system? No, of course not. They came up with a new set of programs to spend the sudden surplus and left the cutbacks in place. 

The real question should be, "Can I trace the fees charged for this activity or resource directly to the benefit to the activity?" All too often, the answer is "NO!" In melensdad's particular case, can the revenues from hunting licenses be ascribed completely to hunting benefits? The simple answer is "no", but the conclusion that they therefore must be benefitting the hikers and birders out of proportion is also "wrong!"

My gasoline taxes and auto license fees go (in part) to pay for the roads and road maintenance. This benefits me as a driver, which happens to make it easier for me to get to a hiking trail or climbing area. But that does not mean that my gas tax supports the frivolous sport of climbing any more than it benefits the frivolous (my opinion) sport of trophy hunting.

So, whose ox is getting gored?

10:38 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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I contribute through my Taxes, I buy an annual pass, I contribute through Friends of Red Rock and The Access Fund. That is what I do. i don't tell anyone else what to do. (Not that you were, melensdad).

11:25 p.m. on October 6, 2013 (EDT)
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I think there is a misunderstanding.   ATV, snowmobile, dirtbike, offroad vehicle users in CA have to pay a Green sticker offroad fee every two years.  It has gone up quite a bit the last 10 years or more, used to be $20 for two years, but is now $50.  NV has started something too now. They pay their way and for others too like hikers, outdoor lovers, XC skiers etc who contribute nothing to road maintenance or trail grooming in the winter.  I believe some areas the FS or Park Service may do some grooming for XC skiers like Yosemite and Jellystone, correct me if I am wrong.  We as bpers, hikers do not get hit with a annual fee.  Like bpers, hikers, birders, some of each group may do volunteer work, but does the majority do volunteer work?  Not likely.  So what I am saying, if us bpers or dayhikers paid a fee, trails would be in pretty good shape and maybe some old ones could be brought back into shape and a few places could maybe have better signage added to alert those hooligan mt bikers that they are not allowed in Wilderness areas or on the PCT.

While camping last week close to home, I noticed a sticker on a brand new bear box placed in the CG, mention of paid for by Green Sticker funds. :)

Duane 

10:26 a.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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But the above sign got me to wondering, if we, as hikers/backpackers actually contribute to maintain the lands we use?

This is a very interesting question! First - there are so many different sorts of lands managed by so many different sorts of entities. About 350 million acres, about 10%, of the surface area of America is managed by the Federal government. We all pay into it's general management and upkeep through federal taxes. It gets complex though, since local NPO's (Friends of X, where X is a Park, Refuge, Forest, or River) help a lot - and they are funded through different private sources. Surprisingly, the largest funder of trails in America is none other than the Department of Transportation. The RTP program they administer is largely funded by gasoline taxes collected by the states!

So - to the extent that hikers drive and pay taxes, they contribute as much to Federal lands as anyone else.

States get more complicated. Some have established direct lines of funding from the sales of hunting/fishing licenses and taxes on hunting and fishing supplies. So - one argument is that "hunters and fishermen contribute to the lands they utilize directly, therefore they are somehow more responsible for the upkeep of the lands they utilize than other recreational groups." I'm doubtful that this is a good argument. The percentage of funding required for the maintenance of these areas derived from stamp sales vs. the percentage derived from state general funds is typically small.

A bigger question is "if we, as a human-powered recreation community, had the choice to tie the funding of the areas we use to a tax of equipment we used specifically - would this be a good idea?"

The proposal of a "backpack tax" in the 1970's was one of the issues that got my former employer, American Hiking Society, up and running.  The idea generated intense debate then, and continues to do so. My personal feeling is that I prefer to give back directly, through service. Establishing a tax or fee to specifically maintain the places I love might enable me to more directly correlate my group's contribution with the existence of these areas. This seems to fly in the face of the notion that these places belong to all of us - regardless of our specific financial contribution.

Awesome question melensdad! It's so cool to have a group of people to talk about this issue with!

10:41 a.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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The problems cited by Walter are all in the distant past. The US is the world model for wildlife conservation. Wildlife and fish are owned by the states and managed by them for everyone. Wildlife populations are at all time highs for many speicies. Wildlife conservation did not really get started until around 1900. Prior to that we had commercial hunting in this country and few game laws.

Hunting organizations are very pro-active in purchasing and improving habitat through groups like the Rocky Mtn Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, North American Foundation for Wild Sheep, the Mule Deer Foundation, etc.

The reality that hunters and fishermen pay their way more than other user groups is a hard pill for some to swallow. It is a fact and cannot be argued away. The consumptive users of fish and wildlife, have always been willing to pay much more than other outdoor recreation users like backpackers. Imagine paying $500 for a backpacking permit during prime hiking season. An out of state hunting lisence frequently costs more than that.

11:43 a.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Imagine paying $500 for a backpacking permit during prime hiking season. An out of state hunting lisence frequently costs more than that.

 

Quite a few of my friends think I'm nuts for going out backpacking and hiking, and they are the same friends who also are big game hunters, big trip fishermen, etc and they think nothing of dropping $30,000 to $50,000 on a week long hunting trip to Montana, Alaska, Wyoming, etc. That includes out of state permits, local lodging, food, etc. Local butchering, taxedadermy, local guides (typically a required expense) Most all are boycotting Colorado and I know the outfitters in that state have reported dramatic downturns in business due to their current gun laws.

I can't imagine 99% of backpackers spending $10,000 on a 2000+ mile AT through hike and that includes all the equipment carried and then reused on other trips.

We all contribute to the local economies in many ways.

I also believe tiny % of us [the collective US as in backpackers, hunters, birdwatchers, etc] donate our time to various organizations.

12:10 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine said:

Imagine paying $500 for a backpacking permit during prime hiking season. An out of state hunting lisence frequently costs more than that.

 Let's go back to Bill S's meat tax.  Backpackers are not hunting and therefore are not supplying food for consumption as do hunters, hence they do not have to pay a "meat tax".  Sounds simple to me.  As I said, hunters and fishermen are taking something out of the forest---hikers and backpackers are not.  In fact, many hikers do trailwork and cut blowdowns and all the rest. 

And beyond this, Seth Levy makes the point of not really knowing where our tax dollars are going---so in fact the taxes I pay are probably going right back into the lands I hike.

12:16 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Tipi, just curious, but of all the hikers/backpackers do you have any real numbers that show what % of them actually donate time to trail work?

I suspect that number is a small fraction of the total number of hikers/backpackers. Just like its a small fraction of hunters that donate time to organizations that maintain land. Just like its a small % of other sports participants that actually donate time to actually work on the infrastructure that supports their sport/hobby.

12:17 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine said:

The problems cited by Walter are all in the distant past. The US is the world model for wildlife conservation. Wildlife and fish are owned by the states and managed by them for everyone. Wildlife populations are at all time highs for many speicies. .

 If this is true, why then is the lower 48 grizzly population still at 2% of its former numbers??  What has wildlife conservationists done to jump the grizzly numbers up to 40 or 50%?

12:24 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine said:

The problems cited by Walter are all in the distant past. The US is the world model for wildlife conservation. Wildlife and fish are owned by the states and managed by them for everyone. Wildlife populations are at all time highs for many speicies. .

 If this is true, why then is the lower 48 grizzly population still at 2% of its former numbers??  What has wildlife conservationists done to jump the grizzly numbers up to 40 or 50%?

 

Probably because most people do NOT want grizzly bears. Realize those populations were destroyed by landowners protecting their cattle, sheep, and families more so than hunters and those populations were destroyed 100 years ago before game management, hunting licenses, etc.

Even today I am allowed to kill coyotes, deer, etc that are nuisance animals on my land and that is not "hunting" the animals under the eyes of the law.

Same is true with wolves. In some areas where they have been re-introduced the local populations are unified in opposition to the reintroduction.

But that becomes a wildlife management issue and you'd probably need to look to the state D.N.R. officials for the real answer.

12:33 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad said:

Tipi, just curious, but of all the hikers/backpackers do you have any real numbers that show what % of them actually donate time to trail work?

I suspect that number is a small fraction of the total number of hikers/backpackers. Just like its a small fraction of hunters that donate time to organizations that maintain land. Just like its a small % of other sports participants that actually donate time to actually work on the infrastructure that supports their sport/hobby.

 We have an ambitious group of trail workers in East TN who do ample volunteer work. 


TRIP%20107%20078-L.jpg

Here's Sgt Rock and his son doing volunteer trailwork on the Stiffknee Trail in TN/NC.


TRIP%20126%20087-M.jpg

Here are volunteers of the American Hiking Society with the Crosscut Mountain Boys at Farr Gap in the Citico wilderness.


TRIP%20109%20056-M.jpg

Here's a group of Georgia boys from GATC doing trailwork on a washed out footbridge on the BMT.


trip%2098%20054-M.jpg

Here's the Crosscut Mountain Boys, an all-volunteer group, on the South Fork Citico in TN.


TRIP%2081%20058-M.jpg

Here's Jeffrey Hunter and friends doing trailwork on the Brookshire Creek trail.


DSC00535-M.jpg

Here's Ken Jones, King of the Crosscut Boys, doing trailwork in East TN.


TRIP%20111%20061-M.jpg

Here's Christy Ralston with a crew from the Student Conservation Association spending all summer doing trailwork in the Kilmer/Slickrock wilderness of NC.

For more info, see--

http://www.trailcrews.org/volunteer-opportunities/

http://www.cherokeehikingclub.org/trailmaint2013.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_Conservation_Association

12:38 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Tipi, sorry but that is not proof of anything.

My gun group does the same thing and most of the guys in the group are not even hunters. We work monthly with the Indiana D.N.R. at one of the properties. BUT, that group, as active as it is, is still just a very small % of the gun owner/hunter population.

So I ask again, do you have any actual numbers (%) of the hikers who actually do this?

Again, I suspect that only a very small % of the hiking population (like other sports/hobbies) participates.

12:50 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad said:

Same is true with wolves. In some areas where they have been re-introduced the local populations are unified in opposition to the reintroduction.

 I imagine the wolves were probably unified in opposition to being wiped out in the first place.   Considering the wolves were there first maybe the local population should count their blessings they haven't been asked to repopulate their native range too.

1:02 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad said:

Same is true with wolves. In some areas where they have been re-introduced the local populations are unified in opposition to the reintroduction.

 I imagine the wolves were probably unified in opposition to being wiped out in the first place.   Considering the wolves were there first maybe the local population should count their blessings they haven't been asked to repopulate their native range too.

 

I believe several states actually paid a bounty for killing wolves.

1:09 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad said:


 

I believe several states actually paid a bounty for killing wolves.

 And it doesn't make it right.  It wasn't that long ago that the State of California paid gold-hungry militias for Indian scalps and heads.  See---

http://askville.amazon.com/true-California-pay-bounty-Indian-Native-American-scalps-heard-back-late-70%27s/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=2411251

1:16 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:

"Once you cross the border from Alaska into the Yukon, you immediately see a drastic increase in the number of wild animals. The difference is that most people in Alaska have guns and most of them hunt."

Really, Peter! What are you basing this on? As a wildlife biologist married to another wildlife biologist, who has spent the past 30 years living and working in the far north and who has travelled extensively throughout Alaska, I can say unequivocally that your statement just isn't true. 

For one thing, wildlife, such as the Porcupine Caribou Herd, do not recognize geopolitical borders. They will frequent areas where there are available forage materials. Contrary to your pronouncement Peter, Alaska does have more ungulates than Yukon and therefore a greater number of predators. The reasons are complex but have little to do with human intervention. Mostly, wildlife populations are driven by climate, which in Alaska is comparatively milder and wetter than in Yukon which is in the rain shadow of many Alaskan mountain ranges. Alaska is also larger than Yukon with a much more biologically diverse ecosystem.  As you travel further east, from Alaska through the Canadian Territories, biodiversity decreases sharply along with the average annual temperature and the subsequent decrease in primary producers. 

Also, most people up here own fire arms and hunt as a way of life.

1:26 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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I suppose what I was trying to say is that it's very difficult, likely impossible, to determine who pays or volunteers more.

ppine says:

The reality that hunters and fishermen pay their way more than other user groups is a hard pill for some to swallow. It is a fact and cannot be argued away.

I can't imagine how one could possible calculate the amount of money paid by any particular group that ended up being used for any particular purpose on any particular sort of land. That's OK though!

We all think well of the groups we like. I like to think hikers help out a whole lot. My friends that bow hunt say the same of their friends.

The fact that we help at all is the most important part. Who helps more seems like a hard question with a useless answer.

What I'm generally suspicious of is the attitude that how much you help, or how much you pay, should influence your access to the resource.

2:40 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Tipi Walter said:

 

 And it doesn't make it right.  It wasn't that long ago that the State of California paid gold-hungry militias for Indian scalps and heads.  See---

I don't believe that I ever advocated for the policy being "RIGHT" or "WRONG" just that it was a policy.

You, however, have blamed hunters, when in fact it is not hunters who eradicated species.

If you don't like the policies of the state then oppose them, but don't assign policies put forth by the state as a way to blame another outdoor group.

Further, the topic is not whether we agree with the policy, the topic is what do we, as backpackers financially contribute.

. . ==================== . .

Seth said:

I suppose what I was trying to say is that it's very difficult, likely impossible, to determine who pays or volunteers more.

I can't imagine how one could possible calculate the amount of money paid by any particular group that ended up being used for any particular purpose on any particular sort of land. That's OK though!

But we don't have to calculate it. The government does it for us. The government taxes guns, ammunition, hunting related goods, arrows, bows, fishing tackle like rods/reels/lures/etc with a special excise tax of 11% that it dedicates to wildlife resources and they tell us that something like 63% of that goes directly to the land, the remaining goes to specialty programs related to hunting and fishing.

We all think well of the groups we like. I like to think hikers help out a whole lot. My friends that bow hunt say the same of their friends.

Which is a point that I tried to make earlier. ALL the various GROUPS do this. Probably not more one than another in terms of % of participants.

What I'm generally suspicious of is the attitude that how much you help, or how much you pay, should influence your access to the resource.

 

I do not believe that I ever implied that point.

2:47 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad said:

I believe several states actually paid a bounty for killing wolves.

 Pretty sure that didn't change how the wolves felt about it.

 

 

Seth said:

The fact that we help at all is the most important part. Who helps more seems like a hard question with a useless answer.

 Amen to that!  It doesn't matter if you are paying extra for a special license plate that funds preservation efforts, if you are cutting a check to a land preservation fund from a NYC penthouse to assuage your liberal guilt with no intent of ever leaving the city or if you are volunteering to drag rocks for stepping stones on a trail.  Good things are good things and maybe we should focus on that rather than which way is better.

2:49 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad said:

I believe several states actually paid a bounty for killing wolves.

 Pretty sure that didn't change how the wolves felt about it.

 

 

Agreed, but we should not blame HUNTERS for this when it was a government policy and they hired people to cull these animals.

2:55 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S said:


Plus - there are organizations, some mentioned above, like The Nature Conservancy, The Access Fund, and the American Alpine Club, that make outright purchases of land that is then handed over to the National Park Service and other government agencies to be preserved and maintained for outdoor recreation.

In addition, Audubon and other organizations work with landowners to set up land management areas that mutually benefit the landowners and the "birdwatchers", such as the Consumnes Preserve here in California (this is in the Central Valley, with the migrating birds helping with pest control, among other landowner benefits).

In other words, birdwatchers, hikers, backpackers, climbers, and others "pay" through sweat equity and through outright purchases of land. The things I listed are only a small part of what the birdwatchers, hikers, backpackers, and climbers are and have been for many decades doing.

 As Bill S alludes to in the above quote, many outdoor companies redirect their profits into forest lands and wilderness areas.  So, whenever I purchase something from REI for instance, there's an "excise fee" associated with my payment which is turned back into the land we hike.  See

http://www.rei.com/stewardship/report/2012/community/giving-philosophy.html

And especially click on the "click here" link to see exact amounts and to what entities.

These profits are beyond the usual 10% TN state tax I pay.  So, in effect, when I pay REI $50 for something, $5 goes to TN, some goes to shipping, some goes to pure profit, and some goes to REI's policy of conservation and stewardship.  Ergo---my money is used by REI to help us protect the lands we hike.

2:55 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Seth said:

The fact that we help at all is the most important part. Who helps more seems like a hard question with a useless answer.

 Amen to that!  It doesn't matter if you are paying extra for a special license plate that funds preservation efforts, if you are cutting a check to a land preservation fund from a NYC penthouse to assuage your liberal guilt with no intent of ever leaving the city or if you are volunteering to drag rocks for stepping stones on a trail.  Good things are good things and maybe we should focus on that rather than which way is better.

 

It is also a question that I did not ask.

What I asked is if there is a special excise tax, like the hunters and fishermen pay or some similar scheme to pay for the lands that we use.

2:56 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S said:


Plus - there are organizations, some mentioned above, like The Nature Conservancy, The Access Fund, and the American Alpine Club, that make outright purchases of land that is then handed over to the National Park Service and other government agencies to be preserved and maintained for outdoor recreation.

In addition, Audubon and other organizations work with landowners to set up land management areas that mutually benefit the landowners and the "birdwatchers", such as the Consumnes Preserve here in California (this is in the Central Valley, with the migrating birds helping with pest control, among other landowner benefits).

In other words, birdwatchers, hikers, backpackers, climbers, and others "pay" through sweat equity and through outright purchases of land. The things I listed are only a small part of what the birdwatchers, hikers, backpackers, and climbers are and have been for many decades doing.

 As Bill S alludes to in the above quote, many outdoor companies redirect their profits into forest lands and wilderness areas.  So, whenever I purchase something from REI for instance, there's an "excise fee" associated with my payment which is turned back into the land we hike.  See

http://www.rei.com/stewardship/report/2012/community/giving-philosophy.html

And especially click on the "click here" link to see exact amounts and to what entities.

These profits are beyond the usual 10% TN state tax I pay.  So, in effect, when I pay REI $50 for something, $5 goes to TN, some goes to shipping, some goes to pure profit, and some goes to REI's policy of conservation and stewardship.  Ergo---my money is used by REI to help us protect the lands we hike.

 

Tipi, but that is NO DIFFERENT than the gun or archery or fishing company that does exactly the same thing.

Which takes us back to square one.

We do not, in fact, do anything EXTRA to pay for the lands that we use.

At least not extra in any way that is different than many of the other outdoor pursuits.

And in many ways we do FAR LESS in financial terms because we don't contribute ANYTHING in excise tax dollars and we generally have a sport that contributes FAR LESS in local tourism support too (at least when compared to hunting/fishing trips)

BY THE WAY TIPI, your math is bad. If you buy $50 of goods from R.E.I. and 1% of the profits goes to a good cause, then its 1% of the profit margin, not 1% of the total sales price. A retail company may normally make a 50% margin, so that would mean that $25 is potential (but may not actually be) profit. So instead of $5 (which is 10%) it would be more like $0.25 (25-cents).

3:23 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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It seems you're forgetting the most important point:  You say, "We do not, in fact, do anything EXTRA to pay for the lands that we use."  What are you forgetting?  That these are PUBLIC LANDS which we pay for with our taxes.  Just like the Interstate Highway system.  Most of our Interstates are not toll roads and are open to the public.  Why?  Because we pay for them with taxes.  So too the public lands. 

Hunters and fishermen cull meat for personal consumption, so they pay extra. 

And to repeat myself, many National Parks like Yellowstone and Glacier require hikers and backpackers to pay EXTRA---even the Smokies now has a backpacking fee.  So yes, hikers and backpackers do pay extra in some places.  If I was hunting on the lands I backpack, I would expect to pay extra for the free meat I take out.

3:28 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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No, I'm not forgetting.

We all pay taxes. I get that. I pay them in spades. You seem to take great exception to the taxes you pay and post about it as if its a special burden to you because you mentioned it many many times.

BUT, given that we are spending (at least on the NATIONAL level, and in probably 70% of the states) far more than we tax, we may not be able to maintain those levels of spending.

My concern is, if we don't support our own sport, then when the times of real financial hardship come, things like land management may be some of the first budget areas to get cut. NOT trying to make this political in any way. Just saying that we, as a society spend $2 but take in only $1 and we have $10 in accumulated debt built up . . . at some point funding for our recreational lands may be cut.

You also have consistently missed the fact that shooters pay the same tax as hunters, but don't hunt. Those involved in sport archery pay the same tax as archery hunters, but don't hunt. Waterskiers pay the same tax on their speedboats as fishermen pay on their sport boats, but they don't fish.

4:26 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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So, melensdad, I ahve stated what I spend....tell me what you propose.....

4:57 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Thank you North. That was very informative. 

North1 said:

Peter1955 said:

"Once you cross the border from Alaska into the Yukon, you immediately see a drastic increase in the number of wild animals. The difference is that most people in Alaska have guns and most of them hunt."

That contention is only anecdotal, admittedly. It is based on driving across the border a number of times, and seeing few to no animals on the Alaska side, compared to numerous deer and bear, and bison sitting by the road, on the other. If that doesn't apply to the entire region (and I'm not familiar with the backcountry along the border) perhaps it's just that the larger animals have learned to stay away from roads which provide access for hunters.

Regardless, that doesn't negate Tipi's contention that overhunting has eradicated many species. 

We might even include on that list the woolly mammoth, and the early forerunners of the horse and camel that once lived on the North American plains. Both the horse and camel originated in North America and migrated to Asia, but the arrival of the Clovis tribes is listed as a contributor to the extinction of  their descendants here. 

And while I know that many people in the north hunt for food (which I think is completely legitimate), I despise those trophy hunters who hunt simply to have a head to hang on the wall of their rec room. 

5:08 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Call me crazy, but species have been ERADICATED for eons and for the earth is older than snot crowd, species were dying off in loads without man even being present. Man is not SEPERATE from the environment, he is part of it, and just because a specieis may become extinct, it does not mean that MAN is the bad guy or that the world will end as a result.

6:41 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad,

As a person who professionally studies the differences in groups...I am astonished that you would assume there would be no difference in the amount of volunteerism each group dedicates...backpackers and hunters are by and large culturally unique from each other (though some folks are both hunters and backpackers). Hunter and backpackers have reliably different identities...values...goals...etc. and this is readily apparent in the different media and gear they consume (there are literally different magazines...websites...television...stores...manufacturers...etc.).

If anything...the assumption (null hypothesis) should be that these groups ARE different not similar in the amount of time they dedicate! Still further...the very fact that you raised the question you did would lead me to hypothesis that hunters may volunteer less than backpackers as they see themselves as paying more for the same services and resources that others share (which is far from true given that regulating hunting requires a much greater infrastructure than does backpacking).

Of course anyone can theorize...it is methodology that separates science from guessing...so I will add that in the absence of reliable statics on hours spent volunteering between these groups (which doesn't exist)...or a generalizable survey (which could cost thousands of dollars to produce...unless we could get it added to the General Social Survey next year)...counting up the number of articles dedicated to volunteerism in lets say the top 5 hunting and backpacking magazines would be a cheap and easy way to either bolster or discredit my thesis...though only to a degree...but this level of rigor is usually all that is demanded in a public forum.

6:50 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Good to hear from North as usual. Now that we know you are w biologist, married to another one we know who to call on.

7:53 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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So, melensdad, I ahve stated what I spend....tell me what you propose.....

 

Actually I don't propose anything.

I was asking.

Can't really begin to propose anything without full information.

melensdad,

As a person who professionally studies the differences in groups...I am astonished that you would assume there would be no difference in the amount of volunteerism each group dedicates...backpackers and hunters are by and large culturally unique from each other (though some folks are both hunters and backpackers). Hunter and backpackers have reliably different identities...values...goals...etc. and this is readily apparent in the different media and gear they consume (there are literally different magazines...websites...television...stores...manufacturers...etc.).

If anything...the assumption (null hypothesis) should be that these groups ARE different not similar in the amount of time they dedicate! Still further...the very fact that you raised the question you did would lead me to hypothesis that hunters may volunteer less than backpackers as they see themselves as paying more for the same services and resources that others share (which is far from true given that regulating hunting requires a much greater infrastructure than does backpacking).

Of course anyone can theorize...it is methodology that separates science from guessing...so I will add that in the absence of reliable statics on hours spent volunteering between these groups (which doesn't exist)...or a generalizable survey (which could cost thousands of dollars to produce...unless we could get it added to the General Social Survey next year)...counting up the number of articles dedicated to volunteerism in lets say the top 5 hunting and backpacking magazines would be a cheap and easy way to either bolster or discredit my thesis...though only to a degree...but this level of rigor is usually all that is demanded in a public forum.

 

Jrenow, more carefully read what I have said please. What I have said is that each group does volunteerism. I'm not saying each does it to the same %, but honestly I know that hunters are EXTREMELY active in volunteerism in my part of my state, but I don't know if that is true in other states or even in other parts of my state! I will say that, if backpackers are as active as the hunters in my area, then the future of our trails is exceptionally bright.

That said, this portion of the discussion is still only a side issue in this discussion.

Rather, the more important issue is overall funding for the lands we use. Regardless of which groups fund them, we have a serious issue that will come to a head at some point in the future with government funding as we spend way more than we take in via tax collections and our overall debt continues to increase.

Go back and read my initial question, the same question to which I constantly refer. That is the question I was asking.

8:27 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi, melensdad. I looked through the thread carefully, and I have been unable to find a question you asked that someone hasn't tried to answer. If you don't like the answers, arguing about what you're being told won't change what people are telling you. 

Regardless of which groups fund them, we have a serious issue that will come to a head at some point in the future with government funding as we spend way more than we take in via tax collections and our overall debt continues to increase.

I don't see anything about hikers or hunters here. If your main point is how the government spends taxpayer money, you're getting into a political discussion that could best be resolved by tracking down specifically how much each person contributes in taxes, fees, donations in kind, or hours. Without those numbers, the arguments you're making are just hyperbole. Perhaps the IRS could help you with that - certainly no one here has those figures.  

As a larger issue, a rising government debt is a question that you could more properly take up with your congressman. 

As has been said,

"Who helps more seems like a hard question with a useless answer."

8:35 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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One thing in this thread (I would not call it a discussion) that is crystal clear - there are two separate and distinct opposing factions posting in this thread who believe what they believe and will not change that belief, regardless of any factual information that is presented by the other side (hmmm, sounds a bit like a certain political gathering near the Atlantic shores of the North American continent, doesn't it?). Looking back over the thread, I see a lot of hearsay and speculation and very little linkage to actual factual data that can be substantiated (note: I am well aware that I have presented no substantiated or factual basis for any of my statements in this thread, though I do have such sources). I do note that several posters have requested links to factual information to support the various (and widely varying) claims.

So, at best, we here can only agree to disagree.

I am a bit curious, though, about something that seems to be implied (though not explicitly stated) - The implied message is that Hunters contribute in generous measure (greater than tithing) to support and maintenance of a vaguely defined "wilderness habitat", while Backpackers and Hikers contribute a negligible amount toward support and maintenance of such "wilderness habitat". Another way of stating this implied message is (Hunter = generous, considerate steward of the wilderness) versus (Backpacker and Hiker = cheapskate freeloader, unconcerned to the point of being inconsiderate and negligent of the wilderness). An extreme interpretation, to be sure. But a strongly implied one (to the point of utilizing bold face to make such statements).

Another implication is that the only contribution to the support and maintenance of the "wilderness habitat" worthy of consideration and recognition is cold, hard cash, collected involuntarily and managed by governmental bureaucrats, with voluntary contributions of cold, hard cash, land, or sweat equity being of negligible value and not worthy of recognition.

Is this the intended message? If not, perhaps the message could be reworded in a less perjorative manner.

9:12 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks, Ppine. Now that I've been outed I should also say that we sit on more than a few Boards and Committees, both national and international, in order to determine the wise use of wildlife and wildlands here in the north. I guess that is how I contribute to the preservation of wilderness, or at least my part of it.

But, for the sake of this forum I prefer to be a spectator for the most part. Like you, Ppine, I enjoy reading the philosophical views of others, especially as they pertain to the Man/Nature Dichotomy.

9:18 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Regarding the hunters and lead, you do know that lead is naturally found in every forest, every mountain, every valley of this and every other land? EPA toxicology reports show that lead bullets have had a zero effect on the land, the banning of lead bullets has been a politically inspired ban, pushed forth almost entirely by anti-hunting groups and their allies, despite the science that refutes them.

So would this be the anti-hunting propaganda you were referring to?http://www.peregrinefund.org/subsites/conference-lead/PDF/0307%20Tranel.pdf

Rather, the more important issue is overall funding for the lands we use. Regardless of which groups fund them, we have a serious issue that will come to a head at some point in the future with government funding as we spend way more than we take in via tax collections and our overall debt continues to increase.

Easy.  Make corporations like Exxon/Mobil who paid approximately 13% in taxes to the regulated 35%.  Heck.. they're the ones who profit the most from the environment anyways.  Force other companies such as Apple to pay income taxes instead of using offshore satellite companies to avoid U.S. taxes.  Reduce government subsidies for the inflated defense budget and military industrial complex (thanks for the warning Dwight D. Eisenhower!) that goes to the same arms industry corporations that hunters purchase their weapons and are unfairly taxed to purchase "hunting stamps."  We'll have plenty of money for habitat preservation/environmental protection/revocation of hunting taxes/universal health care/reduced taxes/housing/etc. etc.  Let's start looking at who is really freeloading in the larger scheme of things.  I doubt the problem lies as an interpersonal issue between a small cohort of people versus another cohort.  It lies structurally in our institutions.

Next question.  Preferably one in regards to hiking up a mountain or on the tent vs. hammock debate or something.

9:39 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad...I was not being combative or rude...I was just simply stating that assuming no difference between the two groups when there is readily available evidence to the contrary is somewhat shocking to someone who studies groups. Also...reading and listening carefully is what I do for a living (ethnographer)...and you said:

ALL the various GROUPS do this. Probably not more one than another in terms of % of participants

As I stated previously...the assumption should be that one group DOES help more than another group in terms of %...because hunters and backpackers have reliably different identities...values...goals...etc.

Bill S...I did speculate...factual information is rare (also what is factual information is decided upon by humans...making the very establishment of factual information a subjective enterprise). Moreover...factual information (however it is defined in a particular instance) is not always necessary to establish a credible claim...and more importantly not always a bad thing (most of the time speculation is all we have...philosophically speaking I would argue it is all we EVER have...but that would take a lot of thread space to establish).

Bill S. I would also ask in what way(s) does this thread not meet the definition of a discussion?...I'm not being combative or rude...I just do not understand how this thread is not a discussion..which Merriam-Webster defines as:

: the act of talking about something with another person or a group of people : a conversation about something

: a speech or piece of writing that gives information, ideas, opinions, etc., about something

9:59 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm just going to jump to the absurdity of this whole thing.

I'm a "freeloader" for not paying an extra tax to go out and enjoy public lands--lands intentionally set aside by the U.S. for its citizens to enjoy?

Hunters are "proud" to be able to pay a special tax to hunt wildlife--even on their own lands?

And what happens when you tax the privilege to use public lands? Simple. The law abiding won't use them. Those who could care less about laws will continue to be there--and they aren't going to be concerned with "Leave No Trace" ethics. I've seen hunters (at least a dozen over the years) on ATVs whip right around "No motorized vehicle" signs in Shawnee National Forest and head up the trails--trails maintained and voluntarily supported by equestrian and hiking clubs. I've picked up their beer cans and hauled their trash out of the forest. So are THEY going to start picking up after themselves when hikers and horses are gone?

I'm not putting all hunters into the same category. But a usage tax is not going to improve things in Shawnee.

Proof is in the closure of caves. Several years ago state and federal officials began closing all public-land caves east of the Rocky Mountains due to a bat disease called "White Nose Syndrome." Some caves have been closed for 7 years. It is now being discovered that many of these caves have been heavily vandalized. Criminals have taken baseball bats to entire colonies of hibernating bats--killing thousands for fun. And it's happening, because there is no longer a presence of law-abiding cavers, who love caves, who care for caves, and who are the first line of advocates for cave preservation.

Finally, I'll add this: Illinois just started taxing people inner tubing and canoeing on all public water ways. Experts say it will cost more to police these licenses than will be raised from it. There will be no improvements to waterways. No preservation efforts. It will be a financial deficit to the state--and it will drive people to neighboring states like Wisconsin, Indiana, and Missouri, where the canoeing was already better.

10:14 p.m. on October 7, 2013 (EDT)
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macchiolives said:

Next question.  Preferably one in regards to hiking up a mountain or on the tent vs. hammock debate or something.

Yup. This conversation is just wandering around in circles. I see Tipi had the sense to sign off.

7:55 a.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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melensdad said:

...we have a serious issue that will come to a head at some point in the future with government funding as we spend way more than we take in via tax collections and our overall debt continues to increase.

Go back and read my initial question, the same question to which I constantly refer. That is the question I was asking.

 I had a feeling this whole thread was just to make up for the fact that your last attempt at turning this into a political discussion forum was nixed.

Adios.

9:29 a.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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Just asking questions and not having an idea yourself is all about picking a fight. I welcome a good debate, but not with someone who simply sits in a chair as arbitor of other's opinions, casting them away willy nillie with not so much as an idea of your own in the place of those you solicite., yet cast off.

10:01 a.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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Well I didn't mean for this to become political (I actually went back to another thread and deleted a political post I made) and I don't believe I cast off anything. But it seems like many of the points made were the same, and none were any different than any other group does. If they are the same then we don't need to beat them into the ground, or do we?

I do have an idea but didn't want to offer it because it could get political.

Much of my walking is in England, Wales and Scotland. Things are very different there. The walking culture is deeply embedded into their society. Here if you tell someone you are a hiker/backpacker they see you as a bit of an oddity. Its just not a large part of our culture.

But as I spend a good deal of my summers in the UK each year I noticed that many of their trails have achieved status as National Trust trails. The equivalent in the US might be something similar to a building getting designated as a "historic" building. It gets special designation. Not sure how they do the funding over in the UK but their taxes on everything are much higher and their government involvement is much greater in all things. Not suggesting that is good or bad, it works for them. Their trails often are well marked, well maintained, well supported, and sadly often crowded . . . especially in July and August.

But what if we could find some funding mechanism and some sorts of designation for some of our trails that would insure they are maintained and even expanded? That is why I asked the simple question in the initial post.

10:56 a.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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Joseph, the answer to your question about "discussion" is in the first sentence of that post. Most of the posts in this thread are just the proponents of the two sides (though more one side than the other) repeating absolutist statements of their belief and rejecting the other sides' statements. "My belief is THE TRUTH, and yours is nonsense and flat-out UNTRUE!"

A few of us posting do recognize that the truth lies somewhere between and somewhat orthogonal to those declarations of "TRUTH". A real discussion also requires listening to the other points of view, something one faction here rejects outright, as do one or two in the other faction. "My way is right and your way is wrong" is not a discussion, no matter how many times repeated.

As for this topic and my further participation, realizing that some might consider it their "victory", I will leave it at:

--... ...-- 73's

3:28 p.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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But what if we could find some funding mechanism and some sorts of designation for some of our trails that would insure they are maintained and even expanded? That is why I asked the simple question in the initial post.

You're right on melensdad! We actually do have a system like this - in fact, the UK may have been inspired by ours! In the US, out big, long hiking trails are designated as "National Scenic Trails." The Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail - all of these (and more) are NSTs. We also have "National Historic Trails," like the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Heritage Trail. These are more routes than trails.  There are also many smaller "National Recreation Trails."

BUT - none of these formal designations has ever received the funding they require from the Federal Government. In fact, the NPS's NST Program office is a very lonely, very nice man in one cubicle! The vast majority of the work done to maintain these trails are done by volunteers organized by non-profits.

The Partnership for the National Trails System is an umbrella over all of these non-profits, and dearly, dearly needs the help and support of passionate people like all of you.  Trailspace just made a donation to them to help them fund their annual conference.

4:59 p.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

Joseph, the answer to your question about "discussion" is in the first sentence of that post. Most of the posts in this thread are just the proponents of the two sides (though more one side than the other) repeating absolutist statements of their belief and rejecting the other sides' statements. "My belief is THE TRUTH, and yours is nonsense and flat-out UNTRUE!"

A few of us posting do recognize that the truth lies somewhere between and somewhat orthogonal to those declarations of "TRUTH". A real discussion also requires listening to the other points of view, something one faction here rejects outright, as do one or two in the other faction. "My way is right and your way is wrong" is not a discussion, no matter how many times repeated.

As for this topic and my further participation, realizing that some might consider it their "victory", I will leave it at:

--... ...-- 73's

 I think all I really said was what I did as a contribution....I never said it was all there was to do. Just the facts of what I do, which is what I thought the question was.

8:35 p.m. on October 8, 2013 (EDT)
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I think the amount of impact that backpackers, hikers, climbers, ect. have on human & natural resources is already offset in the current scale. I don't see why we should have to pay more. I also think the current system of volunteerism and donations is more efficient & better targeted than a tax would be. 

I fish regularly, I pay fees to three states to fish there. I don't get upset when rafters come downriver and mess with my trout fishing even though they pay no usage fee or tax to use the same water I am standing in (I was there first plus I support Trout Unlimited after all!!). We both benefit from the Dam which controls water flow, the parking areas, trails & bridges.

 The difference is that I am impacting the natural resource  to a much greater degree than rafters by removing fish that have to be replaced by a hatchery plus all the associated human resources that manage the fishing.

Both trout fishermen and rafters are a benefit to the local economies in the areas we frequent, and we both already pay federal & state taxes - I just call it a wash, and I think it is fair.

I also hunt, shoot clay, and burn hundreds of .45 autos and .308 wins most months.

I just don't see the merit in the argument that hikers who practice minimum impact and Leave no Trace should have to pay the same or more than those who use, damage, or consume a natural resource. 

I know for a fact that a duck hunters boat (for example) has far more impact than someone walking around a lake - why should the offset be the same for both?

11:26 a.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Yes, backpackers contribute less than hunters and fishermen to support public lands, wildlife habitat and wilderness areas.

8:26 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Well, I wasn't going to make any more comments. But I ran across this story and thought I should post it. Yes, the hunters have apologized, and yes, they were legally within their rights. But the animal's existence had been known for years and publicized as sacred to the Mi'kmaq people on whose land it was killed.

Having grown up on a reservation, I am well aware of what such things mean to the People.

4:11 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine said:

Yes, backpackers contribute less than hunters and fishermen to support public lands, wildlife habitat and wilderness areas.

Judging from the above comments, many people disagree, ppine. I guess you'll have to back up that opinion with numbers if you want to make it stick. 

8:13 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:

Judging from the above comments, many people disagree, ppine. I guess you'll have to back up that opinion with numbers if you want to make it stick. 

 Well said, Peter.

8:56 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine said:

Yes, backpackers contribute less than hunters and fishermen to support public lands, wildlife habitat and wilderness areas.

Judging from the above comments, many people disagree, ppine. I guess you'll have to back up that opinion with numbers if you want to make it stick. 

 

There is a federal excise tax on all archery equipment, all hunting equipment, all fishing equipment, and all guns/ammunition (including NON-Hunting guns/ammo). We have no such taxes on our hiking/backpacking/camping supplies. While we may pay for a backcountry permit, that is no different than a hunter pays, but a hunter also must buy a state hunting license, which is typically dedicated to wildlife management/land conservation (varies by state), as well as a "Game Stamp" or "Bird Stamp" in addition to the hunting license, which is again, typically used to fund wildlife management/land conservation.

http://www.anglingtrade.com/2011/05/16/federal-hunting-and-fishing-excise-taxes-create-enormous-1000-2000-annual-return-on-investment-to-outdoor-industry/

http://wsfr75.com/sites/default/files/files/WR-and-SFR-Facts-7.18.2011.pdf

http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/node/7809

http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/federal-aid-cycle.shtml

http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/MultiState/MS_AFWATaxReport2011.pdf

http://www.azgfd.gov/pdfs/hahwg/TWS-articles/99-PY_Ethic_PR_75.pdf

11:01 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Sigh. Here we go again. Round and round and round....

(unsubscribe...)

11:32 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Beat.....dead......horse....makeum.....glue.

WAITER!!!!! CHECK PLEASE!!!!!

11:46 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Sigh. Here we go again. Round and round and round....

(unsubscribe...)

 

WOW, you asked for backup, it was provided, and then you don't like it?

12:37 p.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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2:48 p.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Before I go out the door...

I don't understand your desire to see more taxation. How does taxing someone who takes a walk in the woods make the world a better place?

Peace. Out!

7:43 a.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Here's your answer: once the bureaucrats figure out a way of making revenue on the masses who undertake hiking/backpacking/bird watching, etc, as they did with hunting/fishing/shooting, they will pursue that course of action and implement it. Until that time I am going to hunt and fish by paying the necessary fees, including any extra fees associated with the gear and "freeload, to use your terminology, when I hike and backpack.

Did we really distance ourselves from"Mother England" and her taxation? Change is coming sooner than you think and it's not going to end up in your pocket.

10:17 a.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Rob, The Government generates revenue to manage wild lands because they operate all of their agencies at a loss. It takes money to manage lands with all the regulations like the National Environmental Policy Act,and many others.

Even the best Forest Service timberland operates at a loss because of the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act. Each acre has to be managed for multiple use. Users like backpackers and hikers would pay a lot more in order to pay the true cost of their use.

12:17 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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AND the government functions simply to perpetuate itself. Most functions are either superfluous or un-needed. They operate at a loss because they are mismanaged. IF they didn't have a hostage to pay they would fail. I see it every day in the Federal Public Defender's office. Thousands paid in hotel rooms where at the same time the state pays 150 for my hotel room. You mean to tell me the FPD can't stay at the JJ Marriott for 15- bux like me? Once an agency is set up it milks the budget like a cow.

4:29 p.m. on October 13, 2013 (EDT)
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MOO! I would support an excise tax on backpacking gear. as long as it doesn't become a ransom...

6:57 p.m. on November 21, 2013 (EST)
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From a New Zealand perspective:

We have a governmental dept to control public land called the Department od Conservation. They are in charge of several million square miles of land, and have a paltry annual budget of less that $100 million dollars. That is equivilent to 2 cents per acre!

Recently 200 of their staff were fired (disestablished) so 20% of their workforce went in one go. Because of chronic under funding for the last 20 years civilian voluteer groups have to pick up the slack to maintain our tracks and Huts (we have +1000 6-60 bunk huts in NZ).

 

I personally belong to a track clearing group called Permalot (historical name for track markers), Ive also volunteered with my tramping group for painting and maintence working parties. Every year we join about 500 others in our local area in a multi day work part removing exotic species from our mountain areas. Just about all of us carry a machete or saw to cut back tracks as we hike.

 

If the government cant or wont do this work, we must, otherwise we loose out on new and exciting routes to follow.

7:19 p.m. on November 21, 2013 (EST)
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I think that is great Jonathon. After all, we are all the government and pitching in is a good thing. We have so many federal agencies...at least nine agencies that I can think of. I am not sure if even trying to put down what is spent per acre would be relevant as there are different purposes for the different agencies. But I would rather see people accomplish the work than to buy it from tax dollars and see it get spent on oversight and not what it was intended in the first place.

4:30 p.m. on November 22, 2013 (EST)
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I sure don't all I pay for when i go out is food from towns, i hunt with home-made trap's never used a gun since I was 16 in 1972. 

6:39 p.m. on November 22, 2013 (EST)
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There are two big problems with the debate over who pays for what, and then attempting to assign individuals for covering these costs:

  1. Billing folks individually for only the goods and services they use will drive up costs for everybody, regardless how costs are assigned.
  2. Even if you could bill folks for only what they consume, determining the per person charges would still contain lots of blue sky in the figure.

There has been a move over the last few decades to unbundle our government provided goods and services, such that only fisherman pay for fishing related costs, only the lost pay for SAR, drivers pay for use of the roadways, businesses pay for their fire and health inspections, etc.  After all why should others shoulder these costs?  I call the concept dim sum government services – you consume only what you need and get billed (taxed) accordingly, just like a Chinese restaurant breakfast.  I won’t argue the concept, it works for the restaurants and their customers; but at some point scaling this revenue model to provide the myriad of government services, and attempting to assess and collect all these individual fees negate the goals of direct billing.  I can’t even imagine living under such a revenue scheme.  Do we end up continually stopping to pay a toll because jurisdiction/ownership of roadways and trails change every other junction?  Or are will we get bills from dozens of agencies, ending up with stacks of invoices stuffing our mailbox.  I spent more than ten minutes with the NPS administrator processing my permit for the last trip I went on.  I am sure most of the fee collected went to covering the cost of the properties and personnel directly associated with collecting this fee.  Sure the city slicker was saved the cost of covering a portion of my share of backcountry, but we all end up paying for additional overhead associated assigning indivduals the cost for the dim sum services each of us consumes.  Taking such a concept beyond the few specific examples where this may make economic sense – again pretty much a arbitrary argument – and we end up with paying pennies for services, but dollars for the administrative cost of accounting and billing on an per use basis.

Even if you could collect fees (taxes) on per use basis, what should those fees be?  Such a model would suffice when all associated costs are localized and contained, but how do we account for indirect costs and by product benefits, both of which may exceed the actual direct cost of the service consumed?  The hiker precludes the cost of a heart attack the city slicker incurs, due to their life style choices.  Thus hiking has a byproduct benefit that may very well exceed the cost of maintaining backcountry access infrastructure.  And while boaters may have fees that cover the cost of launch ramps and support services, they do not cover the cost of their craft polluting the water ways.  In fact a big problem with capitalism as currently practiced is the lack of accurate accounting for such diseconomies and our disdain to being assessed for such costs.  We tout electric cars as being “clean” and subsidize their owner’s vehicle choice, yet I doubt the citizens living adjacent to the power plant providing the juice for those cars are compensated for the noise, pollution, and safety consequences associated with these plants.  Even obvious direct costs can be difficult to assess.  The rescued may pay for the SAR call, but who pays the salaries of SAR for time on shift between calls?  What if there are no calls for an extended period?  Do we dump all that down time cost on the next rescue?  Or do we blue sky it and “estimate” down time cost share based on historical figures?  Furthermore how much should we charge for use of the roadways and firebreaks the SAR used to prosecute their mission?  Pick a number!  Not even Montana has this much blue sky.

IMO quibbling over where the funds for outdoor goods and services comes from and who is assigned these fees is idle prattle.  Sportsmen of any ilk individually cover only part of the costs associated with their accessing the outdoors.  The designation, assessment and collection of fees attached to permits, licenses, and specific merchandise are mostly symbolic gestures on the part of government to placate non-users and special interests, that they are not subsidizing other people’s lifestyles.  I know someone will refute this assertion with charts or policy statements supporting otherwise – the California Department of Fish and Game claim they are self sufficient - but as I said, such assertions are based on accounting models that do not address indirect costs and benefits, or diseconimies borne by non-users arising from these activities.

Ed

2:08 p.m. on November 25, 2013 (EST)
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Like I said, WHOME...I have missed you so. I don't always agree with you, but I soooooo enjoy reading your writing!

1:06 p.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
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With all due respect having seen the excessive costs privatization of things like Highway Construction, Incarceration, Sanitation, Healthcare, etc. I definitely don't think like you do Gift. Government was the greatest force of equality EVER in this country and its hamstringing in recent years from both poles of the political spectrum costs each and every one of us greatly each and every day. I often here people like you complain about "superfluous" government agencies and their functions but I like clean water to drink, well constructed roads to travel, safe food to eat, and in the outdorrs the "benefit of all" TR demanded.

I want more people to enjoy the outdoors so I am fervently against basic access fees to our public lands. Pay for a developed campground, wildland product to harvest, etc., but don't keep children off of public lands because their parents need to feed them on tight budgets. Access fees pay a relatively miniscule portion of our public lands management but discourage millions from developing an appreciation for their public wildlands. Where are real conservatives like TR, Muir, Eisenhower, Goldwater, etc., when you need them?

4:22 p.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
121 reviewer rep
582 forum posts

I can't speak to areas I'm not familiar with but the white mountain national forest uses a system to incur payments from hikers. For one, myself like thousands of others are paying members of the Appalachian mountain club. Some of the fees from that membership undoubtedly go to the wilderness we recreate in. Secondly, almost all trailheads in the whites have a $3 per day parking fee. Thirdly you can purchase a one time payment insurance that will cover you if you need rescue for the calendar year. Fourth you can purchase a yearly parking pass to opt out of the trailhead fees that sticks to your windshield. Lastly, I'm climbing mt rainier unguided this June. I still have to pay a fee for access to the national park, pay a fee to climb up the mountain, and pay a fee to camp over 10,000 feet.

That's lots of examples of clear cut ways that hikers, climbers, and nature lovers pay for the beauty of the land that have nothing to do with hunting or fishing.

July 31, 2014
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