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Old 10-15-2012, 08:06 PM   #41
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If hiking fees went directly to trail improvements I'd be in favor of paying them. Something like $10/day.

The trails in the High Peaks (especially herd paths) are getting so bad that eventually something very major will have to be done and the sooner the better. Currently it seems like trail improvements only have enough of a budget to tackle yesterday's problems.

Try and imagine the trails in 10, 20 or 50 years if present trends continue.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:32 PM   #42
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If hiking fees went directly to trail improvements I'd be in favor of paying them. Something like $10/day.

The trails in the High Peaks (especially herd paths) are getting so bad that eventually something very major will have to be done and the sooner the better. Currently it seems like trail improvements only have enough of a budget to tackle yesterday's problems.

Try and imagine the trails in 10, 20 or 50 years if present trends continue.
10 bux a day sounds reasonable enough for a daily amount. What about for a week, month, year? Maybe a 3 or 5 day option?

$25 for 3 days, $40 for 5 days, $50 for a week, $100 for a month, $200 for a year? Prices get steep fast for longer terms under the example I gave. I'm not sure thats a bad thing within the scope of this archetype.

I agree the trail crews are understaffed and underfunded by a lot. What they need is a lot more money so they can pay to have a lot more hands on deck. (A Pete Hickey cloning machine would be a decent investment on thier part too) A user fee could definately help get some more resources allocated to those ends.

That last bit of yours there is truly a dark thought, but a very germane one. Who could argue that the rate of deterioration is not high?
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:37 PM   #43
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Try and imagine the trails in 10, 20 or 50 years if present trends continue.
Reverting back to untrailed wilderness is not necessarily a bad thought at all.
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:23 PM   #44
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If hiking fees went directly to trail improvements I'd be in favor of paying them. Something like $10/day.

The trails in the High Peaks (especially herd paths) are getting so bad that eventually something very major will have to be done and the sooner the better. Currently it seems like trail improvements only have enough of a budget to tackle yesterday's problems.

Try and imagine the trails in 10, 20 or 50 years if present trends continue.
That's a pretty big "If". I don't want to derail this thread into a political commentary, but it's disconcerting to see people so willing to pay out more taxes than we already do. It wasn't too long ago that former Governor Patterson tried to raid the $6 million pool of hunting license fees. The state already collects billions in tax revenue so I would submit that any potential solution continue to follow the volunteer model and be supplemented by a reallocation of wasted tax revenues for the trails.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:35 AM   #45
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That's a pretty big "If".
Haha! No kidding. Then there's the complexity and expense of administrating and enforcing such a program. In spite of that, hunting and fishing licenses seem to work (not that I know where the money winds up).


What about putting in an airstrip and casino in the Boreas Ponds area and using the profits to re-route and maintain the trails I like to whine about? Heck , there'd be enough left over to open up the South Dix wilderness, Skylight Brook watershed and much more. (I draw the line at the Sawtooth Range).
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:54 AM   #46
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Since neither this issue nor this thread are going to go away, I'll add a few more comments. This time around, I don't think there is any danger that any fee system will be implemented because the town supervisor who proposed the fee (from Crown Point where there are no hiking trails) was quickly criticized by other Essex County supervisors who feared that a fee would keep hikers away and reduce that element of the town's economy. The post-Irene closure of many trails was definitely a wake-up call when many town officials suddenly realized how many people weren't going to be visiting until the trails were open again.

As for Neil's concern about the trend in trail conditions, he should have seen what the trails looked like up until the late 1970s. There are obviously still problem areas to be fixed, but the current combination of volunteer trail workers plus professional crews funded by both donations and state money has made significant improvements over the last 30 years. For instance, when I first climbed Cliff and Redfield there was no difference in the condition of the Lake Arnold Trail, the stretch from Feldspar to Uphill, and the now-abandoned trail one follows to get to Cliff. The Van Hoevenberg, Slant Rock, and Elk Lake trails to Marcy were also in about the same condition. Looking at those trails now, one can see the results admittedly slow, but very noticeable, progress that should continue with current funding levels.

If hiking could be clearly "defined," then the fishing license "model of enforcement" would likely work, but I still don't see any need for such a massive effort when the current system seems to work. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:20 AM   #47
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As for Neil's concern about the trend in trail conditions, he should have seen what the trails looked like up until the late 1970s. There are obviously still problem areas to be fixed, but the current combination of volunteer trail workers plus professional crews funded by both donations and state money has made significant improvements over the last 30 years.
Yep... the 70's was a Renaissance for recreation management... the "period of enlightenment," when people realized there was more to maintaining backcountry resources than just marking trails and designating campsites.
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:48 PM   #48
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it's public land...how can you charge a fee?...it doesn't make any sense.

the idea is good but requiring someone to pay a fee is complete bs why designates the High Peaks from the rest of the ADK's? How can you charge a fee for one region and not another for public access land.

just put up a donation box and hope some of the hikers will leave a few dollars here or there.
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:21 PM   #49
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I have yet to hear or read anyone with a logistically feasible way to charge fees for hiking the trails. If you charge fees for being on trails or using trailheads, people will simply park elsewhere which will cause business parking lots, roads and private property to become more crowded. To avoid trail fees, people will bushwhack which will lead to more lost or injured hikers and increase the impact of hikers on the mountains.

Honestly, what are they going to do, set up customs at all road entrances to the park and ask people their intentions? Maybe they'll ask to search people's cars if they think they're lying and arrest them when they discover microspikes hidden in their wheelcovers that the person inevitably will claim that they were just holding on to for a friend.
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Old 10-16-2012, 03:56 PM   #50
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...Policing isn't really an issue. Do it like a hunting or fishing license. Use the honor system and fine the crap out of violators. (A fine of 10 or 15 times the original cost of the license, jail time for repeat offenders) It doesn't take long for the word to get around the community that its serious and you had better pony up and pay the fee...
Sounds a bit draconian for taking an unlicensed walk.
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Old 10-16-2012, 03:59 PM   #51
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if it is use of the trail then you could literally just bushwack and not have to pay a fee? The whole idea of charging money to use public land disgusts me. I am all for charging for parking etc. because it encourages carpooling or walking in addition it is actually enforceable, but not the use of a trail.
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:53 PM   #52
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if it is use of the trail then you could literally just bushwack and not have to pay a fee? The whole idea of charging money to use public land disgusts me. I am all for charging for parking etc. because it encourages carpooling or walking in addition it is actually enforceable, but not the use of a trail.
I imagine then people would simply bushwack 2 feet next to the trail or claim they were bushwacking and accidentally came across the trail if they are "discovered" on the trail without having paid the fee. Over time, the official trails could become intermingled with various herd paths. There would have to be regulations about how far from a trail you would have to bushwhack. You might even have sections of the mountain designated for trail hiking and bushwhacking.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:04 PM   #53
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If you charge fees for being on trails or using trailheads, people will simply park elsewhere which will cause business parking lots, roads and private property to become more crowded.
I don't think that's true. Even with rates of $10 and $7 at the Loj and Garden, those lots have been continually full on weekends all summer. At most of the major trail-heads in the high-peaks, there isn't an alternative parking lot nearby, and any other alternative (road-side parking, private property parking) can easily be fixed by towing cars.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:06 PM   #54
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I did some reading on the topic and there's some interesting research that has been done on both backcountry "licenses" as well as visitor use fees to wilderness areas. The following is summarized from Wilderness Management, 4th Edition, by Chad P. Dawson and John C. Hendee. Much of this information was in turn was taken from a variety of published scholarly articles on the subject.

Entry Requirements:

The idea of requiring a "license" for backcountry use is not a new one, and dates back to at least the 1940's, when a "certified outdoorsmen" program was suggested. Additionally, such requirements already exist fundamentally in the form of licensed guide programs (such as our guiding license program here in NY). Furthermore, most Wilderness Education Groups (WEGs- summer camps, environmental education programs, etc) also have stringent requirements for the trip leaders that they hire, and training is usually comprised of both First Aid certification as well as education in LNT, both of which would likely be requirements in a backcountry license program.

The authors suggest that the framework for certifying backcountry users could easily be adapted from these licensed guide programs, as well as programs that exist through organizations such as NOLS and the Wilderness Education Association. Essentially, education that would allow a person to become a "certified outdoorsman" already exists for the general public if they so choose to take advantage of those courses. It certainly wouldn't be hard to adapt that material into a class required for a backcountry license.

The authors suggest that an appropriate implementation of such a program might be to only require licenses in the most heavily used and impacted areas. This would likely have 2 benefits- a substantial amount of backcountry use would likely be dispersed away from those high use areas, and the skill level of those continuing to visit the most popular backcountry destinations would increase. Both of these factors would likely result in decreased impacts in those high use areas. (I wouldn't be surprised if this option were eventually considered for the High Peaks.)

Another potential benefit of a licensing program is that with an increase in the skill and knowledge of LNT techniques by backcountry visitors, the need for other direct controls within wilderness areas may be reduced, and some of these controls scaled back or eliminated. Direct controls include regulations like campfire bans, group size limits, length of stay limits, and camping setbacks.

There is a potentially big drawback to backcountry licenses, however- the danger that such a program may foster "elitism" with regards to bakcountry use. Licensing programs would need to be cheap, with readily available courses to obtain such a license, or else we may end up with wilderness that is only available to those who have the money and time to obtain their backcountry certification. Administration (and enforcement) of such a program would likely be costly (despite the benefits listed above), and finding a way to minimize the cost for the public could prove difficult. This could potentially be addressed by requiring only "trip leaders" to have a license, rather than all members of a backcountry group, but it's still a valid concern that would need to be dealt with in any licensing program.

Fees:

Interestingly enough, to date there is no real evidence that shows that access fees have been applied sufficiently enough in wilderness areas throughout the US to have ever had an appreciable effect on use levels and visitor use patterns. The authors agree, however, that there is potential to reduce or shift usage patterns with increased use of fees in the future.

Constant fees would likely reduce use at rates proportional to the amount of the fee, except in areas with unique recreation experiences. Therefore, it's likely that increased fees in the High Peaks would probably have little effect on the amount of use in that area (unless those fees were priced at unrealistically high levels), since it's a fairly unique area in comparison with the rest of the Adirondacks and much of the surrounding region.

A flat entry fee would likely reduce short-term visits, but would probably have little effect on long-term visits (it may actually encourage long term visits as users spend extra time in order to get "more for their money!"). In contrast a per-day fee would probably have the same reduction effect on both short- and long-term visits.

In contrast to constant fees, variable fees give wilderness managers a bit more options to work with in influencing visitor use patterns, although the added complexity makes them a bit more difficult to implement. Examples of variable fees include high fees at popular access points, heavily used areas, and during peak periods of backcountry use, in contrast with low fees at infrequently used access points, seldom visited areas, and during the off-season. Ideally, this would have the result of causing displacement, as users shift their use patterns to take advantage of lower fees at less popular areas and during the off-season. Another potential form of variable fees would work in conjunction with a licensing program- those holding a backcountry license would be subject to reduced fees or even no fees at all.

The costs associated with wilderness management are also cited as perhaps the strongest argument in favor of fees. It's a fairly common trend, both at the federal and state level, for wilderness managers to be tasked with providing an ever increasing array of quality backcountry opportunities, while budgets meanwhile decline and become limited. Both the management of wilderness areas as well as the enforcement of regulations are costly when one considers the amount of staffing and funding necessary. As a result, there are a significant number of those involved in the wilderness management field who feel that, for better or for worse, visitor-use fees for wilderness areas are unavoidable, and will likely become the norm in the future.

There are drawbacks to fees, of course. Administrative costs associated with backcountry use fees tend to be quite high, so the returns on fees may not be that great for agencies that implement them. Studies have also shown that use fees are among the most unpopular methods of wilderness management with the general public, and public resistance to implementing fees is usually quite high. As we've seen in this thread, one of the most frequently cited objections to fees is that idea that the "public should not be charged for the use of their public land." There is also the concern that lower-income members of the public may not have the means to afford such fees, effectively limiting the use of public lands to only those who can afford it.

It seems, though, that most of these drawbacks can be addressed through careful planning and implementation of a fee system. Studies have shown that public resistance to backcountry fees is reduced considerably when, instead of even a general fund for environmentally-related expenses, fees collected go directly into improvements associated with the specific resources a user paid to have access to. Essentially, under such a fee program, any fees collected at a specific trailhead would be use only for maintenance and improvements at that trailhead, as well as on the trails radiating from that access point, and the campsites/scenic destinations that can be access only via those specific trails.

Other studies have shown that backcountry use fees, even those fees that have been proposed but not yet implemented, would likely not be a financial burden on the majority of backcountry users. In fact, when all of the costs for backcountry trips are tallied up, including gas, gear, food, etc., use fees are but a fraction of the overall cost for the vast majority of backcountry users. Fees at reasonable levels are not beyond the incomes of most backcountry visitors.

However, there is one major issue associated with fees that has proven difficult to address. Many backcountry visitors who are subject to fees begin to view themselves as "customers," and feel entitled to the all the expectations that we would normally associate with a service provided for a cost. When backcountry users begin to have the expectation that because they are paying for the wilderness experience, wilderness managers therefore are responsible for providing a service that meets all of their needs and wants, then you have an issue at hand that very much is in contrast with the purposes and ideals that wilderness is intended to provide. (I think this is what has happened in the White Mountains with the increased demand for trailhead amenities in response to parking fees.)

Relation of Entry Requirements and Fees To Other Management Techniques:

Both Entry Requirements and Fees are considered to be "indirect management techniques," that is, techniques that only influence the choices a visitor to a wilderness area makes. In contrast, "direct management techniques" are those techniques that explicitly limit options, therefore forcing visitors to either select from a narrow range of options, or explicitly choose a certain option.

The following is an outline that summarizes management options available to wilderness managers:
  1. Indirect: Emphasis is on influencing or modifying use and/or behavior
    1. Physical Design and Alterations
      • Improve, maintain, or neglect access roads
      • Improve, maintain, or neglect campsites
      • Make trails more or less difficult
      • Build trails or leave areas trail-less
      • Improve fish or wildlife populations or take no action
    2. Information and Education Programs
      • Information to redistribute use
      • Advertise recreation opportunities in surrounding areas, outside wilderness
      • Minimum impact education programs (LNT)
      • Advertise underused areas and patterns of use
    3. Entry and Eligibility Requirements
      • Charge constant visitor fee
      • Charge differential fees by trail zone, season, and/or entry point
      • Require proof of wilderness knowledge and/or skills (or group permits)
  2. Direct: Emphasis on regulation of behavior.
    1. Increased Enforcement
      • Impose fines
      • Increase surveillance of area
    2. Zoning
      • Separate incompatible uses (hiker-only zones, areas with horse use, etc.)
      • Prohibit uses at times of high damage potential (no hiking on steep trails in spring, etc.)
      • Limit camping to setbacks from water or other features
    3. Rationing Use
      • Rotate use (open or close access points, trails, campsites)
      • Require reservations
      • Assign campsites and/or travel routes to each camper group
      • Limit usage via access point
      • Group or party size limits
      • Limit camping to designated campsites only
      • Limit length of stay in area
    4. Restrictions on Activities
      • Prohibit certain types of use
      • Restrict building campfires
      • Restrict certain recreation activities

The general rule of thumb in selecting options for management of backcountry use is that you start at the top of the list and consider those options first, as they are the least intrusive on the wilderness experience for backcountry visitors. If those options fail, than you work your way down the list trying alternatives until you find something that is successful. That's why the bottom of the list includes most of the techniques that we associate with the High Peaks Wilderness- because those alternatives that are less intrusive have already been attempted and found to be unsuccessful in an area that receives such high levels of use and impact. (If you want to see what the future has in store for the High Peaks if current management techniques are unsuccessful, look at whats on the bottom of the list that hasn't be implemented yet!)

Interestingly, this would seem to indicate that perhaps visitor licenses and fees should have been attempted before implementing the more stringent regulations we see in the High Peaks. The authors are sure to point out, however, that no single approach is ever likely to be an appropriate answer to the wide array of issues and problems that wilderness management attempts to deal with. Rather, a balanced, coordinated method that integrates multiple approaches is much more likely to provide affective management and protection for our backcountry areas.

Two important things to take away from this, I think, for those on both sides of the issue:

For those of us who are against licensing and/or fees, we need to understand that they are an accepted part of recreation management. As much as we dislike the idea of having to fork over cash or gain certifications in order to use public lands, there are potential benefits to such programs that make them worth considering, both for users and for wilderness resources.

For those of us who are in favor of licensing and/or fees, we need to realize that they are but two potential options out of an array of available management techniques. Not only do we need to carefully consider the implications before selecting and implementing these techniques, we need to realize that by themselves, they aren't going to be a solution to the myriad array of issues associated with wilderness management.

That's my exhaustively researched book report. Hopefully I get an A.

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Old 10-16-2012, 05:27 PM   #55
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I did some reading on the topic and there's some interesting research that has been done on both backcountry "licenses" as well as visitor use fees to wilderness areas. The following is summarized from Wilderness Management, 4th Edition, by Chad P. Dawson and John C. Hendee. Much of this information was in turn was taken from a variety of published scholarly articles on the subject.

That's my exhaustively researched book report. Hopefully I get an A.
The improperly formatted bibliography knocks you down a few points but I'll give you an A.

Thanks for the exhaustive report!!
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:38 PM   #56
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Nice job. A+

However, for all of the assumptions to be valid, the revenues collected have to be kept out of the hands of politicians, state general funds, etc. That will never happen in this state. And once they get their hands on the money, they will tinker with the structures to emphasize revenue over wilderness management.

A current analogy is how there has been a measurable decrease in the length of yellow lights at intersections where red light enforcement cameras have been installed. It isn't about safety.
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Old 10-16-2012, 07:48 PM   #57
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DEC statement

from: http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new...z/-/index.html

"The Department of Environmental Conservation manages those public lands and in a statement to Newschannel 5 a spokesperson wrote, "DEC is not considering imposing a fee on hikers. State law is clear that access should be free to the public."

The state legislature would have to approve any fee imposed on hikers in the Adirondacks."
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:30 PM   #58
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The idea of a donation box seems easier. If someone does not rob the thing....lol
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:36 PM   #59
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I think I remember seeing a donation box at Blue Mountain this year. Can anyone verify, or am I crazy?
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Old 10-18-2012, 11:52 PM   #60
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I think I remember seeing a donation box at Blue Mountain this year. Can anyone verify, or am I crazy?
I think that was donations for the private group that has volunteered to maintain the fire tower. I don't think any of that money goes to the state directly (for better or for worse).

I believe there was a steward on Blue Mountain this year as well, so the money probably also helps fund that summer position.
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