Should user fee's be applied to the park to help sustain it...

10:19 a.m. on June 30, 2015 (EDT)
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Very interesting article from the times..I wanted to know your thoughts..This could also pertain to state parks and land...

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/30/opinion/lets-fix-our-national-parks-not-add-more.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

11:38 a.m. on June 30, 2015 (EDT)
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I'd have to say I don't agree with the false dilemma the writer set up there. Why steal conservation funding to pay for the backlog of unfunded, but vital, work needed at existing parks? If the problem is that those parks need more funding then solve it by giving them more funding.

I do agree with use fees being retained locally, but I'm ok with the current 80% as it allows some money from the major attractions to flow to those that see less users but still need funding. If they wanted to make an exception for the smaller venues, letting them keep 100% I could see that making sense though.

11:56 a.m. on June 30, 2015 (EDT)
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Denis, as the article states, most of the fees collected at a given park are used to run the park. That has to include the personnel, of course, as well as maintenance of the facilities.

IM(not so)HO, there are areas that should be protected that are not. And the general public (including those who have never been to a park) needs some education.

OTOH, given that the world already has over 7 billion people (over 325 million in the US, 1.4 billion in China, 1.3 billion in India), and expected to go over the 10 billion mark in just a few more years, there are just too many people putting stress on the environment. The US has plenty of elbow room, with only 34 persons per square kilometer (vs India with 386 and China with 145 - Bengladesh is most crowded at 1101 persons/sq. km). The statistics are given at http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

There are not a lot of wild places left, and they are not well maintained.

I suppose it is not my problem. Since I have been around for more than 7 decades, the rest of you (including my son) will have to deal with the problems (I won't be able to worry when my ashes are spread across the globe).

2:53 p.m. on June 30, 2015 (EDT)
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Bill I was alluding to the Smokey Mountains which has Zero entrance fee's unlike Shenandoah national Park which has 20 per car fee...I mitigate that by buying a National Park season pass which is 80 for a year and good at any park and National Forest for entrance fee's. as I see it 4 trips and I would have spent the same amount...I also hinting at Roxanne Quimby trying to get a National park in Maine although I realize we only have 2 members from Maine would be nice to hear what they think of the idea and all..

7:23 p.m. on June 30, 2015 (EDT)
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Denis, I'm one of the freeloaders - when you reach a certain age, you can get the "Forever" pass for $10 (maybe it is more now). That gets free entry at most parks and monuments and a 50% discount on campsites on most federal land.

My point in listing the population question was to emphasize the huge and growing impact us 2-legged critters have. If funding is not collected somehow and distributed to do the way overdue maintenance, there will be no parks. The parks are paid for one way or another - user fees, government grants, some volunteer work, or deterioration. The pessimistic view is that designated wilderness or parks or not, without funding and volunteers, it's going away gradually or rapidly. Education of both users and the general public is necessary, but as it is now done, inadequate.

Among my way too many volunteer positions, I am on the Facilities Committee of my local Boy Scout Council. Thanks to a big lack of funding, our 3 camp properties (2 owned and 1 leased from the government) are suffering from a lot of deferred maintenance. In some ways, we are better off than the parks and trails.

One big expectation that people going to parks and Scout camps have is clean, comfortable facilities. Unlike most here on TS, most people going to the parks and hiking the trails do not care for tent camping - they want comfortable cabins, cooked meals, and so on. It all costs and requires maintenance. So it all comes down to the following choices:

1. charge fees enough to conserve the park, trail, or ....

2. limit usage of the parks and trails to those who "qualify"

3. somehow generate a very large corps of park maintenance volunteers who will work for free and are supported by generous donors.

4. abandon the idea of preserving all but a few wild places.

Sorry to be a pessimist on this. But as long as the population continues growing, which demands more living space plus more food production (which might just mean more GMOs), those are the tradeoffs.

However, I do believe there are solutions, though they will require sacrifices and major changes of attitude on the part of large segments of the world's population.

9:30 p.m. on June 30, 2015 (EDT)
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We led the world in estabishing such a large portion of our country as public land--other countries are very supportive of us in this regard--and then we charge our visitors at every available opportunity.

I'm not sure what the solution is. We, ostensibly, charge our patrons for the improvements, or amenities, available. But no-one really wants fees; do we resort to specifically primitive sites with no improvements, that will theoretically require no fees?

Of course not; citizens want to explore. They explore with 40' tow-behinds with seven slide-outs. And seriously, it's their right.

I don't know the answer. The problem perplexes me, and occupies a good amount of my conscious thought.

7:09 a.m. on July 1, 2015 (EDT)
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I'm a bit nervous answering your question Denis because I have a trip in a few weeks that will see me crossing Elliottsville Plantation land on the IAT. Hopefully they won't revoke my access...

While I'm all in favor of conserving land and giving folks access to it the idea of making that woods a national park is a bit silly. National parks generally are feature based. There is one or more big thing that is the attraction the park is built around. In this case the only such feature is a view from some spots of a great feature which is outside the park. Other than that they have a really nice woods with a really nice river running through it.

If she hadn't bulldozed a road through it she could have worked with BSP to create a companion park or even donated the land directly to BSP along with an endowment to undevelop it, returning it to wild status so that it could seamlessly extend Baxter out to the East Branch. That last one would have been the best from my perspective, but I understand that it might not have appealed to her.

Since that boat has sailed and the NP idea likely won't float I think she's going to have to settle for a NF or maybe a recreation area if she wants the feds to take it off her hands.

Whatever they end up doing my biggest concern is impact on BSP. That place is like no other and I know that if she does something next door it can't help but change Baxter for the worse. I can only imagine the road to Matagamon Gate in mid summer with RVs and minivans full of kids sharing the road with those logging trucks heh.

2:28 p.m. on July 1, 2015 (EDT)
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I  believe partials of land should be saved for the outdoors.Bill you hit that big because of my profession I follow the market on that...But also because of my profession maintenance is the thing..What good does it do the National Parks and Forest Service and BLM to have these lands without proper up keep..This is where Our Political leaders need to stop giving aid and actually stop cutting our budget for our country...I know I got a tad political there but I find I   don't agree with our leadership we have..This is such a complicated issue because these funds are needed and everybody who's elected think the issues or problems will go away...I like the idea of more Volunteers personally...But I would like to see another CCC formed again and fix the problems..

10:14 a.m. on July 2, 2015 (EDT)
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We have a great system emulated by many other countries worldwide. We need to a better job of funding the management of wild lands.

4:25 p.m. on July 3, 2015 (EDT)
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I agree we have a great system emulated by others, despite the current issues and funding. Politics will swing back and forth in this polarised environment we have now. Hopefully, the long term trend will favor preservation and management if things degrade and get more noticed.

On this holiday weekend I also appreciate another quality of my adopted homeland...the freedom to debate how we should use and/or preserve the land for future generations. Happy 4th to you all!

8:51 a.m. on July 6, 2015 (EDT)
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This is somewhat of a false issue, a misdirection.  The NPS is just not good with their money.  The NPS prefers to build over the top new visitor centers (without much in them) rather than spend on maintenance.  Similarly, they leave a lot of money on the table.  Take the Golden Eagle passes mentioned.  $80 a year for people who work and have limited time off vs $10 for life for retired people who have a lot of time to visit.  A discount is ok, but why not $10 per year?  The passes also provide half price camping,but generally the seniors who camp are in big motor homes - why do they need a subsidy?     

8:46 a.m. on July 7, 2015 (EDT)
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Honestly that question about why the get the subsidy..I think I'll ask a close friend who is a NPS Guide..But to be honest.Personally if they have worked their whole lives and lived this long why not.I do see your point but where do the subsidy's stop and who gets one..As for building over new visitor centers I have no idea..Never have seen that.Seen new ones built because the old were just not worth the repair and unpgrade to new code...

12:19 p.m. on July 7, 2015 (EDT)
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Somehow I doubt that discounted park access for the elderly and disabled is the reason the parks are underfunded. The folks behind the article being discussed on the other hand have a lot to do with it. Underfunding is a great tool for making it look like government doesn't work. That can be leveraged into a call for more privatization or the outright disassembly of federal land management including NP, NF and BLM lands.

While the views in the article are shaped to sound like concern for existing parks one would have to be completely unfamiliar with the folks behind those views to take them at face value. Their primary objective here is to prevent new land from entering into federal protected status. If they can lower public opinion of NPs and federal land preservation efforts by making them sound like "welfare" at the same time that is a nice benefit as well.

2:19 p.m. on July 7, 2015 (EDT)
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I thought of that LS and here's this years Budget and the percentages

http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/upload/FY-2015-Greenbook-Linked.pdf

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