As I go about my outdoor recreation, I go to Jefferson County Open Space (free bathrooms). when it gets warmer I go up to the local State Park ($7 per day or Park Pass for $70 a year). When it gets hotter, I may have to go to Brainerd Lake (host program, mildly ratty,pay to enter the site on National Forest) or to Rocky Mountain National Park (first class, good bathrooms but no dogs).
I’ve been to the Bells many times with out of town guests. Like Mt. Evans, I’ve never heard “we shouldn’t pay ” from folks. Both places have a nice (not second-class recreation) feel to them. I bet many folks (social scientists, want to do a survey?) don’t even know they’re in a National Forest and not a National Park.
And if it was a National Park, we would probably pay more, but not be able to take our dogs..less desirable on both counts.
But this bathroom stuff is quite silly, in my opinion. See this article from the Aspen Times
Benzar and the Forest Service have different interpretations about the application of the fee at Maroon Lake, 10 miles southwest of Aspen. The No-Fee Coalition contends that those who want to hike Buckskin Pass or West Maroon Pass and want to park a vehicle at Maroon Lake shouldn’t have to pay the $10 fee if they have no intention of hitting the bathroom before they hit the trail. Likewise, sightseers in cars shouldn’t have to pay the fee if they don’t use the bathroom or other facilities at any of the six developed recreation sites, she said.
Here’s the deal to me..yes, folks could install “pay to poop” card readers at the outhouses, but that contributes to the Forest Service “ratty second-class recreation” vibe. Not to speak of all the folks who won’t pay $10 and leave the nearby forest looking and smelling like a giant outhouse (not to speak of the ecosystem integrity when all that extra nitrogen is applied!)
Which is part of the reason people want to transfer FS land to the Park Service- because somehow the Parkies appear to not allow rattiness. It seems like that is the obvious trail we’re going down, any area with lots of folks gets transferred because then there can be money to take care of them. Try “I am just driving through and not using Park facilities” at a National Park.
Since we’re all about following the law, and the recreation fee legislation is up before Congress, let’s see how many different ideas there are about alterations to the legislation to make it more common-sensical.
Here are some other excerpts from the story:
Officials at the Aspen Ranger District and the White River National Forest Supervisor’s Office have countered over the years that collecting the fee is vital to operating the necessary facilities at Maroon Lake. Without the fee, the Maroon Bells would soak up all the recreation funds available through the regular budget process. Instead, funds collected don’t go back to the treasury. They are used at Maroon Bells for operations and maintenance.
The Forest Service and the predecessor to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority started bus service to the Maroon Bells 35 years ago. The federal agency also worked with Pitkin County to limit traffic on Maroon Creek Road, a county route. When the fee was adopted formally through federal legislation, cyclists fought the Forest Service for an exemption. Bikes and pedestrians get free passage past the entrance station.
The federal agency’s total collection from Maroon Valley visitors was $231,364 last year. That is a 50 percent increase from the collections in 2008, according to Forest Service figures.
Without the fee, Maroon Creek Road would be overwhelmed with traffic and the agency wouldn’t have adequate funds for operations, officials have said.
“Having that fee collection keeps it world-class,” said Martha Moran, a longtime veteran of the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District who helps oversee recreation programs. “If you want trash picked up and toilets cleaned, you can’t use volunteers.”
Maybe with the current legislation, this recreation is “unsustainable” based on the planning directives definition of within budget. I wonder what Aspen folks would think of the FS shutting it down when their plan is revised?