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September 17, 2004 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Tomorrow is National Public Lands Day, a day where you are invited into the national parks to build trails, plant trees and help improve YOUR parks. These national parks normally charge a fee for regular use. It is a growing trend to charge the populace to use their own public lands. Some people are for them (PDF), and others are against them.
posted by BrodieShadeTree (24 comments total)

 
Would that I could put into words how much the fee demonstration programs bother me. Now, not only do we subsidize the timber industry through building roads on the taxpayers dime, and selling trees inexpensively, but we get shaken down and hassled for money when visiting whaterver oases remain among the swaths of clearcutting.

The forest service tries to cry poverty, and say that they need more money to properly upkeep these lands. In response to that i'd say if we make lumber harversters pay for the roads they need, and pay what the market will bear for the timber we would generate the funds to pay for upkeep pertty much in perpetuity.

Fee Demo netted less than $20 million for the Forest Service last year by even the most generous estimates. Compare this to the $407 million in our taxes the Forest Service used to subsidize below-cost tree sales to logging corporations

This is not a case of slightly inconveniencing taxpayers to help an underfunded agency make ends meet, this is a case of corporate handouts and greed taking precedence over the duties of the forest service as trustees of our public lands.
posted by jester69 at 3:15 PM on September 17, 2004


Insightful, jester69.

Funny that $407mm is but a drop in a big bucket.

Cutting Corporate Welfare Could
(have) Funded a Bush Social Security Plan.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:35 PM on September 17, 2004


Hey Jester, why do you hate hard working loggers?

Seriously, though, this is exactly what I hear when I criticize the current system. If we make logging companies pay, loggers will get hurt financially. Nevermind that the heads of the logging co's make millions of dollars while the loggers only make tens of thousands. The spin is that loggers get screwed by legislation and change and that spin WORKS.
posted by crazy finger at 3:51 PM on September 17, 2004


I hate these fees. I hate the giveaways to the timber and mining companies. I hate the fact that we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars dicking around in Iraq when our National Parks and lands are going without.

Makes me so angry I cannot be any more eloquent.
posted by Windopaene at 3:54 PM on September 17, 2004


Let me add this. I was recently working on an outreach event at a state fair. The goal of the group sponsoring the event is "responsible energy policy." That includes a move away from fossil fuels and carbon pollution. So somebody comes to the table at one point and this conversation follows:

Hey, do you have any of those anti-logging stickers?

Sorry, we aren't an anti-logging group. I replied.

Well, if you don't like loggers, why don't you try wiping your ass with a plastic bag?

I had no response.
posted by crazy finger at 4:07 PM on September 17, 2004


if you don't like loggers, why don't you try wiping your ass with a plastic bag?

that is the text of a bumper sticker i have seen. he was probably describing the sticker he wanted, as opposed to offering personal hygiene advice.
posted by quonsar at 5:01 PM on September 17, 2004


Hey Jester, why do you hate hard working loggers?

Fortunately, crazy finger, I have a great comeback to this one. I, in a sense, am a logger. My family owns a small quantity of land utilized almost exclusively for sustainable timber farming. Specifically, we use the Tree Farming method. In other words, we directly generate jobs for loggers whenever we have a timber sale.

Generally, if I mention it at all, that kind of ends the "why do you hate loggers" tangent. If a person is obvioulsy closed minded, I just smile, nod, and back away.

I am not opposed to responsible forestry. I am oppsed to being asked to pay to use our public lands, while well connected logging companies get more than a free ride.

Well, I am also opposed to poorly managed forestry, clear cutting, destruction of old growth, and especially clearcutting in a watershed. Those are all topics on which I just love to go on and on, and my thoughts there are probably best saved for another thread in order to not derail the discussion away from the injustices of the fee demonstration program.
posted by jester69 at 5:35 PM on September 17, 2004


Quonsar - he and his girlfriend laughed hard and walked away upon delivery of that line and there was clearly a negative attitude. (I have seen the bumper sticker though).
posted by crazy finger at 5:38 PM on September 17, 2004


Jester- I too have been a logger. During college I paid the bills by doing a little on the side. And I did it in the dead of winter in New Hampshire no less!
posted by crazy finger at 5:39 PM on September 17, 2004


Some of us are going to use any given trail or area, and others aren't. It makes sense to me that those people actually using a given area or trail would contribute more to its upkeep via a fee than people who'll never see it do, even if the bulk of its support will still be from taxes.

The principle isn't any different than national parks, which are equally "public lands" or "my own land." A trail in Bridger-Teton NF isn't so blindingly a different thing from one in Grand Teton NP that one should be forever free while the other charges admission.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:31 PM on September 17, 2004


Well, if you don't like loggers, why don't you try wiping your ass with a plastic bag?

Next time someone asks that, you say, "because I'd much rather wipe it with your face."

Hey, I didn't say I'd say it. I'm going to be over here, in another state, when you say it. Still, it'll totally kill, I promise ya.
posted by soyjoy at 7:42 PM on September 17, 2004


Oh, and crazy finger, you are familiar with the general tone of this character we call quonsar, right?
posted by soyjoy at 7:44 PM on September 17, 2004


those people actually using a given area or trail would contribute more to its upkeep via a fee

I might agree with you if the economics of the situation weren't so out of whack. If you have logging subsidies and no fee for the citizen, OK. Alternately if you have fees for the citizen and do away with the subsidies, I could even live with that.

It is the incompatibility of these two redheaded stepchildren that bothers me so. It would be like voluntarily giving all your money to your richest neighbor, then begging on the streets for spare change. You had the money, then gave it away to someone that didn't need it. Since you did this for no good reason, Why should I pay for your folly?

There should be some destination we, as citizens, can go to and just be without having to open the wallet and cough up. What public spaces should charge admission and which shouldn't? Perhaps a $20 ticket should be required to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. That could be a real moneymaker. Since those who go there are always leaving flowers and memento's, why shouldn't they contribute to cleanup?

Warning: last statement contained hyperbole. The fee demonstration program does not just apply to recreational areas. In some places they are trying to charge to park anywhere in or near the forest, for any reason.
posted by jester69 at 9:39 PM on September 17, 2004


Oh, by "giving all your money" I didn't mean a one time lump sum transfer that left you in penury. I was thinking more along the lines of signing over your paycheck to this neighbor weekly and both being assured of future paychecks, and planning to do this with all of those future paychecks.
posted by jester69 at 9:50 PM on September 17, 2004


It is the incompatibility of these two redheaded stepchildren that bothers me so

I'd rather stop subsidizing logging, but the two issues are eminently separable. It's not like increased logging fees would go to parks or forests; they'd be general funds and might well be spent on moon rockets and smart bombs.

The fees seem hardly a big deal. Barring a few special-use fees (and the idea that tax dollars should pay for free skiing seems silly to me), they're effectively capped at $65/family/year. For which you'd also get free access to all of the national parks and monuments.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:28 PM on September 17, 2004


but the two issues are eminently separable To me, they are not. I am being asked to pay twice, when the forest service is already throwing my money away. We will have to agree to disagree.
posted by jester69 at 11:03 PM on September 17, 2004


In some places they are trying to charge to park anywhere in or near the forest, for any reason.

That is true in the Southern California fee demonstration area. They make it seem like they are so generous when they offer one weekend a month as a free day. The dirty secret is, though, that the passes are easily forgable.
posted by calwatch at 2:12 AM on September 18, 2004


Group Question: You'll notice that the vast majority of forest in the US is pine. Just pine. Annoying amounts of pine. Have you heard of anyone or any organization advocating diversified forestry?

Not just mixed growth forests, though those are grand, but entire wild forests of hardwood trees, for example?

Take cherry. Almost all cherry trees in the US are grown for fruit. At a particular young age, they are chopped down and re-seeded, as they are past optimum fruit bearing age. *However*, old cherry produces some of the finest lumber you have ever seen. I mean, custom, very expensive furniture quality lumber. And yet, the only cherry wood you see anymore is in antiques.

Cherry might take ten times as long as pine to grow, but its value is twenty times that of pine.

(Ironically, most of the privately-held hardwood trees left in the US are being harvested for almost worthless chipboard. Amazing that trees worth hundreds or thousands of dollars in lumber are being ground up for chip.)

Wouldn't you like to walk through a mixed growth forest, or one made of cherry, oak, or other wood than just pine?
posted by kablam at 8:03 AM on September 18, 2004


You'll notice that the vast majority of forest in the US is pine. Just pine. Annoying amounts of pine. Have you heard of anyone or any organization advocating diversified forestry?

Come to the Appalachians or other eastern NF's. You'll find plenty of pines, to be sure, but also a lot lot lot of oaks and hickories and other such hardwoods.

There's a reason the mountains change color in fall, comprende?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:56 AM on September 18, 2004


ROU_Xenophobe: In the East, yes, but for long the western forests have been looked at for bulk, sheer quantity of wood for huge consumption. And thus, we get the "chicken" of wood: pine.
Granted, there are strands of other woods out here. But pine is the mainstay. In fact, "superpine", a breed of fast growing, less knotty pine, has been a favorite since the 70s.
That is why some much fighting has gone into preserving "old growth" forests--they produce far less quality lumber, and at a higher price than 'McForest', land that is clear-cut again and again.
Astounding quantities of this lumber are sold to Japan annually, and even they haven't put a dent in the enormous, insatiable worldwide market for lumber that is deforesting huge tracts of land in other countries.
posted by kablam at 3:37 PM on September 18, 2004


...utilized...

USED, DAMMIT!

WTF is with this idiot trend to using "utilized" instead of the perfectly fine "used"? It's a clumsy two-bit word that looks ugly and adds nothing to the meaning of the sentence.

As far as I've ever been able to tell, the word "utilized" is used exclusively by those sorts of people who are actively interested in obfuscating their language -- academics, lawyers, and the criminally-insane -- and by those sorts of people who try to impress the world by sounding pretentious.

Moral of the rant: Don't use "utilize." It makes you sound like a schmuck.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:28 PM on September 18, 2004


fff: you're usually right, but there is one instance where it has a different meaning. "Using" is just using, but "utilizing" is 'making practical and efficient use of'. Granted, most people who use "utilizing", don't utilize it properly, they just use it.
posted by kablam at 8:03 PM on September 18, 2004


Yuppers. Everyone's hearing it today in stereo: Civil_Disobedient beat you to it.

It would be an unusual circumstance in which mistakenly using "utilize" would be better than mistakenly using "use."

IOW, unless you're absolutely sure you're right don't utilize utilize, use use.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:27 PM on September 18, 2004


Rethinking that, perhaps it should be "unless you're absolutely sure you're right, use utilize, utilize use." :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:06 AM on September 19, 2004


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