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Old 10-16-2012, 12:48 PM   #61
ADKeagle
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I think DEC should just add another sporting license type to their already in place system. This could be the hiking use license and it wouldn't have to be expensive- 15/20 per year. Like it or not, there are expense's associated with maintaining trail systems, emergency response, education, & policing. Everybody is fine with adding to those expenses, but nobody wants to chip in? How come nobody thinks twice about paying to park at the Garden or the Loj, yet they get offended at the idea of a minimal charge for where they will be hiking all day? Hikers use a lot of the same resources as other sportsmen who do have to pay to play.
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:07 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by ADKeagle View Post
Everybody is fine with adding to those expenses, but nobody wants to chip in?
I suspect that the average ADKForum member who posts regularly probably already does "chip in" quite a bit. Through trail work or even just carrying junk out of the woods, the sense I get is that we've got a pretty solid environmental ethic among the majority of the user base here, and that the woods are already probably in much better shape thanks to many of those who've posted in this thread (regardless of whether it's been for or against fees).
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:11 PM   #63
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I suspect that the average ADKForum member who posts regularly probably already does "chip in" quite a bit. Through trail work or even just carrying junk out of the woods, the sense I get is that we've got a pretty solid environmental ethic among the majority of the user base here, and that the woods are already probably in much better shape thanks to many of those who've posted in this thread (regardless of whether it's been for or against fees).
Yes, I agree with that. I think you knew I meant chip in financially. Regardless of the trail work or volunteer work that is done, there are still monetary expenses!
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:56 PM   #64
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I think DEC should just add another sporting license type to their already in place system. This could be the hiking use license and it wouldn't have to be expensive- 15/20 per year. Like it or not, there are expense's associated with maintaining trail systems, emergency response, education, & policing. Everybody is fine with adding to those expenses, but nobody wants to chip in? How come nobody thinks twice about paying to park at the Garden or the Loj, yet they get offended at the idea of a minimal charge for where they will be hiking all day? Hikers use a lot of the same resources as other sportsmen who do have to pay to play.
I just don't understand how such a fee system could be enforced. How do you define who is a hiker? It is one thing to consider hikers being far back in on trail systems in the high peaks. It is quite another thing to consider that a visitor (resident or not) walking to, for example a waterfall not far (how far?) from the road, is a hiker subject to requiring a permit. I don't know that there would be a clear distinction in the same way that someone is an obvious hunter or fisherman who "pay to play" for the privilege of harvesting resources.
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:32 PM   #65
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I just don't understand how such a fee system could be enforced. How do you define who is a hiker? It is one thing to consider hikers being far back in on trail systems in the high peaks. It is quite another thing to consider that a visitor (resident or not) walking to, for example a waterfall not far (how far?) from the road, is a hiker subject to requiring a permit. I don't know that there would be a clear distinction in the same way that someone is an obvious hunter or fisherman who "pay to play" for the privilege of harvesting resources.
In the fee areas (both National Parks and Forests) that I have visited, the permitting process is remarkably similar:
  1. The permittee (i.e. the wilderness visitor) goes to a ranger station, which is not always at the trailhead. Often they are located in a visitor center in the nearest town. The permit needs to be picked up either the afternoon before or the morning of the start of your trip. Therefore you need to factor the office hours into your trip itinerary -- no driving to the trailhead at 1:00 a.m., sleeping in your car, and setting off at the crack of dawn.
  2. The ranger on duty reviews the trip itinerary, the pertinent regulations, and the LNT principles. (In the Boundary Waters and one other area I visited last year I also had to watch a 7-minute video on LNT, customized for each area.)
  3. The trip leader and the ranger both sign the permit. The copy given to the permittee is sometimes on water-resistant paper.
  4. The trip leader is then expected to attach the permit on the outside of his/her pack, or to the tent when occupying a campsite. The conditions of the permit grant the permittee access to enter the wilderness on a certain date and/or location. Some smaller parks ask you to stick to your itinerary; for the larger parks, the rangers might make a note of your intended campsites but don't care if you change your plans mid-trip.
  5. Once the trip leader exits the wilderness area, the permit becomes invalid. A new permit is required for re-entry (or if the original trip is postponed to a different date).

So the idea is if you encounter a ranger on the trail, your permit should be clearly visible. That said, I've never encountered backcountry rangers in any of the parks where I needed a permit.

It should be noted that these aren't "hiker permits" but "backcountry permits," and are generally required of anyone planning to camp. In the Boundary Waters, this includes boaters and fishermen -- and is additional to any fishing or hunting licenses you may be required to have. Because you can't hunt in a National Park, then a backcountry permit is a de facto backpacking permit.

For day hiking, not many of the areas I've visited have required permits. The Boundary Waters did have self-issuing permits for day use, available at the canoe launch.

Permits may or may not be needed in the winter, depending on how accessible the area is.

Again, I'm just sharing the experiences that I've encountered in my travels. And, for what it's worth, these places tend to have well maintained trails and campsites.

Last edited by Bill I.; 10-16-2012 at 03:04 PM..
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Old 10-16-2012, 03:16 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by ADKeagle View Post
I think DEC should just add another sporting license type to their already in place system. This could be the hiking use license and it wouldn't have to be expensive- 15/20 per year. Like it or not, there are expense's associated with maintaining trail systems, emergency response, education, & policing. Everybody is fine with adding to those expenses, but nobody wants to chip in? How come nobody thinks twice about paying to park at the Garden or the Loj, yet they get offended at the idea of a minimal charge for where they will be hiking all day? Hikers use a lot of the same resources as other sportsmen who do have to pay to play.
My sentiments exactly...

As for enforcement, not once have I ever encountered a game warden, but I buy a license every year because it is required - and it is the right thing to do. Although license fees have gotten a bit painful in recent years, I get some satisfaction when I hand over a chunk of change to the state to help maintain the natural resources I love.
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:26 PM   #67
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Thanks for bringing up the EPF. The biggest limitation of the EPF, IMHO, is that we spend too much of it buying land we don't need to buy, in order to appease some folks dogmatic desire for "wilderness." There's no money left to maintain what we already own. Heroic volunteers make gradual progress, but the condition of many trails is a travesty, because there is only so much volunteers can do. We invite people from out of State to come and hike in our "I Love NY" tourist marketing, but when they get here, we show them a mud rut with missing bridges, and then tell them "That's supposed to be like that because it's wilderness. Hope you enjoyed it."

/rant off/
IMO You can't set aside enough land from development. It is only a matter of time before we lose it, we are only stalling the eventual, lets keep stalling. Maybe a couple more generations will be able to find a quiet corner in the woods.
Dogmatic desire? There are worse things than to believe in curative powers of wilderness.
If all the trails can't be maintained then fine, I would be ok with trailless places.
Let's not discourage anyone of like mind from enjoying the treasure we hold dear, it is not nice to monopolize happiness.
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:28 PM   #68
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My sentiments exactly...

As for enforcement, not once have I ever encountered a game warden, but I buy a license every year because it is required - and it is the right thing to do. Although license fees have gotten a bit painful in recent years, I get some satisfaction when I hand over a chunk of change to the state to help maintain the natural resources I love.
And mine - this is exactly how I feel. I know many people who never buy a fishing license, and have never been asked (I haven't been asked either). But I do. Just because.
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:37 PM   #69
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I think it's a bit of a stretch to compare hiking with hunting and fishing with regard to purchasing a liscense. When you buy a hunting or fishing liscence you are not paying for the right to go into the woods on public land- you are paying for the right to harvest resources. The requirement of liscences is one of the means by which the DEC regulates this harvesting and maintains a healthy population, which I think most would agree is absolutely necessary. And in the case of hunting, liscences are also a way to ensure that the hunters have at least some degree of safety instruction, to minimize the dangers to others. Again, I think most would agree that this is also neccesary.

Hiking is about as low impact a recreational activity as you can get. Asking hikers to pay to simply walk on the land that they already fund with their considerable taxes seems unreasonable.
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:57 PM   #70
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My sentiments exactly...

As for enforcement, not once have I ever encountered a game warden, but I buy a license every year because it is required - and it is the right thing to do. Although license fees have gotten a bit painful in recent years, I get some satisfaction when I hand over a chunk of change to the state to help maintain the natural resources I love.
I do exactly the same. I have purchased fishing and big and small game hunting licenses each and every year since I was 16 years old, and I still have most of them in a drawer to prove it. In recent years I rarely if ever make use of them, but I still buy them out of tradition as much as thinking I might actually go deer hunting. As a matter of fact, my sportsman's combined license that I bought through the DEC online showed up in the mail just today. And even though I do not actively guide for hire, the state still gets my $120 every 5 years just so I keep my guides license active.

If buying a "hiking" permit were required then I am sure I would be just as diligent, even though as a dedicated backcountry bushwhacker I virtually never spend the night anywhere near any trail or designated campsites and it would be extremely unlikely for me to encounter any of my friends the rangers or ecos. Partly since I am good friends with many of them, I would never want to test or jeopardize that friendship by not having a proper license or permit.

But that is not my point. Perhaps enforcement is not the right word... rather it is the definition of a "hiker'. If as Bill says, the permitting process only applies to overnight campers, well that is a clearly defined group, just as are hunters and fishermen. But if the permit might apply to day hikers, how does one distinguish between someone who "hikes" a minimally short distance (feet, yards, fractions of miles, or stopping on the roadside to walk the dog a bit down the trail) on public land, as different from one who hikes considerably further? Where do you draw the line in which person needs a permit and which does not?
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:06 PM   #71
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I wrote this for ADKHighPeaks, posting it here as it's also relevant.

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, 05:12 PM   #72
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e you are not paying for the right to go into the woods on public land- you are paying for the right to harvest resources.
If you look at some of the comments made (more on the ADKHP Forum than here, I think) one could argue that you are harvesting resources, or at the very least, utilizing them in such a way as to change them forever.

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The requirement of licences is one of the means by which the DEC regulates this harvesting and maintains a healthy population, which I think most would agree is absolutely necessary. And in the case of hunting, licences are also a way to ensure that the hunters have at least some degree of safety instruction, to minimize the dangers to others. Again, I think most would agree that this is also necessary.
Again, if implemented properly, this could also be an opportunity to educate, similar to New Hampshire's HikeSafe program. And, as in other places around the US (and world) control the number of people in specific areas if and when necessary.

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Hiking is about as low impact a recreational activity as you can get.
Not necessarily - again, check out the thread on the other forum and there are numerous comments about the effect that increased numbers of hikers have had on the trails, and the backcountry. It's not strip-mining, but even the Leave No Trace organization admits that it's impossible to Leave NO Trace, and the best one can hope for is to minimize the effect.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:14 PM   #73
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That's my exhaustively researched book report. Hopefully I get an A.
As always, of course you do! Thanks!
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Old 10-16-2012, 07:48 PM   #74
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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 10-16-2012, 08:27 PM   #75
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"The state legislature would have to approve any fee imposed on hikers in the Adirondacks."
That would be from the Environmental Conservation Law (http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/LAWSSEAF):

9-0301. Use and diminution of Adirondack and Catskill parks.
1. All lands in the Catskill park and in the Adirondack park, except those lying within the town of Dannemora, now owned or which may hereafter be acquired by the state, shall be forever reserved and maintained for the free use of all the people, except that nothing herein shall prohibit the charging of a fee for services rendered or facilities provided.

But:

9-0903. Recreation facilities.
2. The commissioner shall have the power and is authorized to impose and provide for the collection of such fees or charges as he may deem necessary and for the best interests of the state for the use of all facilities and their appurtenances. All moneys received therefrom shall be deposited in the State Treasury pursuant to the provisions of the State Finance Law.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:37 PM   #76
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After reading the above passages from the ECL, I have more questions than answers.

So the lands in the Adirondacks are supposed to be free, except the portion in Dannemora? They can charge fees there but nowhere else?

How is "facility" defined? Can trail maintenance be considered a "service rendered"?

So any fees that ARE collected need to go into the General Fund?
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:08 PM   #77
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The services and facilities referred to would be state campsites the VIC places like that I should think. BUT.....

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Old 10-16-2012, 10:28 PM   #78
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I think there is an overcrowding problem in the high peaks area. At some point, access is likely to be limited in one form or another. One way to limit access would be to require permits for overnight use and charge a nominal fee for those permits, plus charge for parking (already done in some spots) and possibly charge day use fees for large groups.

I'm afraid that either some sort of pay structure will have to be introduced into the high peaks region or a limited access/lottery/reservation system might have to be introduced. Personally I'd rather pay than have the possibility of being denied access.

But that would only apply to the high peaks region, and likely only in the summer. One major problem in that area is bear management and that one might be the kicker. A permit system for overnight use would at least ensure that every overnight visitor is carrying an approved bear canister. Even though bear canister use is required, every time I've been backpacking in the high peaks in the last few summers I've encountered someone without an approved canister. One time it was me....before I knew about the bearvault issue.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:01 AM   #79
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Location: Diamond Point on Lake George, NY
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@ Bill I: The Dannemora restriction is due to the prison there. Its not a restriction aimed at recreationalists, its a regulation aimed at making sure that folks in the woods there aren't participating in activities to aid prisoner escape.

@ WW: I agree that there is an erroneous perception that hiking is low impact. Anyone who has been on the Colvin side of Blake knows what hiking to a rather boring (by comparison) peak can do to the trail. I suspect that if Blake wasn't on the 46er list that the trail on the Colvin side would be much more like the trail on the Lookout Rock side.

@ DSet: Thanks for your exhaustive book report. Its interesting how your research lines up so neatly with my own thoughts on the topic.

A fee is obviosly a hot button issue. What if there was no fee, just a requirement to take an 8 hour course covering LNT, safety, equipment, and first aid and then the license was free? Would folks still balk at that? I wonder.

So folks........ Would you balk at a license where it cost no money, but you had to attend an 8 hr course?
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:24 AM   #80
Neil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Commissionpoint View Post
So folks........ Would you balk at a license where it cost no money, but you had to attend an 8 hr course?
What if the obligatory course for free hiking cost $2500.00?
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