Thursday, January 18, 2018

Nature and a different kind of "Pay to Play"

Phoney Outrage, Self-Righteous Indignation add to these the words/terms bogus, false, fake, pseudo, assumptions, ostentatious, insincere or pretentious, etc. Shall I go on ???

The angry fist illustration has become the universal symbol all across our planet. It doesn't matter what the cause, the complaint or justification for the angry hatred. People everywhere just seem to have their collective knickers in a twist now days over any little thing that sets them off. The problems of today's vaious controversies also seem to be exacerbated by this group think mentality found on many modern day social network sites where the anger of others flow freely and feed this herd mentality for angry activism. The effect has been to pursuade many people who historically have never been a part of angry activism, but suddenly find themselves swept up in the riptide undercurrent of charismatic activist guru propaganda. But lets focus on just one thing here with this post, the National Park Service of the United States of America's decision to raise the day use entrance fees of it's National Parks and Monuments. Below is a quote from the High Country News journal which attempts to pursuade folks why everyone should be outraged.

(Brad Sutton/National Park Service)
High Country News: The price of a national park fee hike
Philosophical hostility to fees also emerged. In the 1930s, Utah Republican Reed Smoot led a growing group of lawmakers in opposition to the idea that Americans should pay anything to access lands that belonged to them. A 1932 Park Service policy barred the agency from seeking “financial gain” and asserted that parks should "be free to the people without vexatious admission charges and other fees.”  
Yet entrance and camping fees remained part of public-land management. Although revenue generated by user fees has risen sharply since 1996, it still makes up roughly the same portion of the Park Service’s budget that it did decades ago. In 1947, 11 percent of the agency’s budget was generated by user fees. In 2016, 9 percent was, with the remainder coming from donations and congressional appropriations.
So apparently there is a long history of people being upset when Park Service fees of any kind are raised. It's almost like the subject of taxes being raised or lowered. Somebody some where is going to be disturbed and outraged. Still, only 9% of the fees now raised only go towards National Park budgets ? Wow! We live now in a world where many believe that all governments owe them and they should have to pay for nothing. And that's really what this is all about. The USA has a new administration in charge and half the country hates that situation. Interestingly any decision this new administration group makes is considered outrageous and to be resisted. Oddly enough had the previously leadership in power made such a Park fee hike decision, it no doubt would have been celebrated as forwards thinking and hailed as brilliantly innovative. But now there is one interesting quote from High Country News which really exposes the unfortunate ideological motive behind this article's demand for protest:
“Rich people can see wildflowers in Rocky Mountain National Park at the best time of year, and poor people can’t see them at all.”
More than anything else, this is the main tool and justification for the resistence. I'll address the poor people question below with the situation in Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona Arizona at the end.

National Park Service Photo

National Park Service Proposes Targeted Fee Increases at Parks to Address Maintenance Backlog
The ideas behind much of these rate hikes for fee entrance is to do much needed rehabilitation work like this trail in Grand Canyon National Park by the National Park Service and the American Conservation Experience personnel which was funded in part by entrance fees. Below here is a document which contains a fact sheet about the National Park Service's targeted fee increase proposal and a spreadsheet showing the current and proposed entrance fee rates (regular season and peak season) for 17 national parks.

So the entrance fees during peak season, which varies but is generally from May 1 to September 30 for most parks, would be raised to $70 per private non-commercial vehicles, $50 per motorcycles and $30 per person on bike or foot. The increase would be nearly three times the current rate for some parks. But interestingly a year Pass card to visit all Parks would be about $75 to $80. I thought about a comparison of sorts with two of my favourite nature parks, the San Diego Safari Park for which I always had a yearly membership and San Diego Zoo.
1 Day Pass - $54 Adult (Age 12+) & $44 Child (Age 3-11)
2-Visit Pass - $86.40 Adult & $76.40 Child 
Annual Pass (Zoo & Safari Park) - $112 Adult & $54 Child
Wow, what a difference. But of course it is closer and convenient. Like the National Parks maintenance is high and fees probably don't cover everything which is why they also rely on outside funding by grants and donors. Only the annual pass provides free parking, otherwise the daily fee or two day pass is still separate from the parking fee you must pay. This also doesn't generally provide discunts towards concession services and stores, but there may be some with the yearly pass. The point is the fees when you take all things into perspective with today's outrageous inflation shouldn't be such a problem. I also find it interesting that people have no problem with using money for other things less important, even going into sign on the dotted line debt for many things in life they want. For example, what about that new 40 inch HD Television sey, or an NFL Game Pass Sunday Subscription, that new XBOX one, Galaxy Note, Iphone 8, verizon unlimited monthly bill, new seasonal clothes selection at your favourite retail outlet, that choice of the big SUV over the compact vehicle, weekly outings to favourite restaurants just to name a few flavourites. Stop and reflect all you do before before you whine about an annual pass to a national park. Something else is a miss. Another thing that has always puzzled me is that most people who claim to be for Nature and ecology are rarely known for actually getting off their back sides and actually doing some type of land restoration or park volunteer work somewhere - anywhere. But what if the Fee whiners would volunteer in the Parks for a certain amount of hours to get a free Pass ??? Then there wouldn't be any reason for crying about the fees. Some of these parks around the country wouldn't even be open if it wasn't for the volunteers. You find them everywhere, but no one ever considers this when they are invited to participate in the latest civil disobedience activism anarchist event. It seems to be more of a problem with who you wish to target the blame. Take that last quote again:

“Rich people can see wildflowers in Rocky Mountain National Park at the best time of year, and poor people can’t see them at all.”
Oak Creek Canyon & Slide Rock, Arizona where "Pay to Play" helps
"July trash helped make Oak Creek unsafe to swim"

Photo from Red Rock News
"With a final 2016 summer cleanup still scheduled for Indian Gardens in less than two weeks, two Oak Creek Ambassadors Nick Kowall and Max Tapia reported the removal of 800 pounds of trash from Oak Creek last month, including over 150 pounds of poop — primarily from people."
(Source: -
Let's take the subject of those poor folks and the "Pay to Play" game. Back in 1976 when I first visited Sedona Arizona and Oak Creek Canyon, I thought this place was the koolest spot I'd ever found. Slide Rock State Park was amazing. It was beautiful. Later in 1983 and 1985 when we visited, we were told by residents at a place of business in Sedona that the canyon and creek were kept clean by locals who volunteered on Mondays to pick up the filth left by city people who came up for the weekend. If they hadn't, then over time the area would have looked like the rough areas of Los Angeles or Phoenix. The second to the last time I went there in 2001 with my son, we went to Slide Rock State Park. It was packed with, *cough-cough*, many of these same poor people the protest folks are whining about. I won't go into a deep description of these folks (culture, ethnicity, etc), but lets just say they were all from the greater Phoenix area and packed out Slide Rock State Park because it was a no Fee required area. You could hardly walk around there were so many people, filth was everywhere and like this article above, there was massive amounts of adult poop and 100s & 100s of baby diapers thrown in bushes everywhere. Unbeliebly this once beautiful place was now a foul mess. But now the last time my wife and I visited, this past 2015, there was a change. Cleaned up quite a bit, less people because no parking allowed along highway and the only parking is limited and costs anywhere from $20 to $30, depending on time of year you visit. Some eco-activists want less humans around to save nature, even going so fas as to calling human beings a plague on the earth. So wouldn't a fee hike helping to keep more humans away from Nature be considered a positive thing ??? In any event, most industrial recreation is as bad or worse, than the conventional things that usually ruin our natural world and fees being raised can barely cover what many nature lovers have destroyed in the past for no other reason than massive sheer numbers in popular areas. Seriously eco-folks, go out and volunteer more and pay less attention to all those social media gurus who keep you stirred up. Proof that you care about Nature has nothing to clicking "LIKE" on someone's Facebook group page.

Image from Canyon Country Zephyr


  1. I'll comment here, since no one seems to comment on blogs anymore! I agree with just about everything said in your post. The amount of "whining" about this or that cause is deafening. Yet when push comes to shove, where are these whiners when we need help "getting it done"? We visit and breath the outdoors, and have noticed the increase in use at popular areas, and some not so popular places. I don't understand how you can drive to visit nature, and then pollute it with your stuff, both visible, and audible. Go ahead and raise the fees! You can camp out in Nation Forest for free, but you do have to go prepared, and aware. Most folks don't know how to do that, so they focus on the "big attractions" which need extra protection. I now no longer share my "secret" spots online as they soon become not so secret, and spoiled.

    1. Thanks, I don't understand these protests which are based not on knowledge, but on an propaganda agenda for more pure unadulterated hatred towards your country's leader over there. They claim to care about poor people, but it's all a smokescreen for what they really want. Nobody seems to want to understand how expensive things are. I really believe all they think needs to happen is for the government to print more money to throw at the problem.


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