Recent comments

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago

    EC, you raise a good point, it is a contentious debate. This is not the forum to get into the issues of tax reform, but from my viewpoint, I think it is of grave concern that federal reported income shows that at least 50% of citizens do not make enough money to pay federal income tax. This is only my opinion, but yes, I do think it is an issue of the distribution of the nations wealth. Many reasons for this, and it does relate to the increasing fees being charged, it is an interesting discussion.

  • NPCA: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Evidence Of Why California Desert Protection And Recreation Act Is Needed   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Zeb - worry not. You and I alone could put together a list just of the religious movements, who mandate making as many more little believers as possible, to say nothing of the Duggars of the world. Population growth is an out of control avalanche, and all the ZPG folks in the world can only mitigate it in the slightest increment. Short of a world-wide sterilizing virus - yeah, we've all seen movies like that - eventually drilling in ANWR will finally be eliminated by covering the pumpjacks with high rise apartments. I'm afraid the fear of wishing for stopping population growth will not be realized.

  • NPCA: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Evidence Of Why California Desert Protection And Recreation Act Is Needed   2 weeks 2 days ago

    In other words, Zebulon, you agree there are limits, of which, yes, population is only one. Just this morning, on page A10 of The Wall Street Journal, this headline caught my eye: "Asia Leads World in Dumping Plastic in Seas." China is first and the United States ranks 20th--nothing to be proud about, but a pittance in comparsion to those countries whose population growth exeeds our own. The WSJ's article, by the way, was originally reported in Science, so no one came blame the Koch brothers for downplaying our complicity in the destruction of the seven seas.

    China is far in front. "Ma Jun, an environmental activist based in Bejing, said the government has greatly expanded waste collection and treatment in cities in recent years. Big supermarkets have reduced the use of plastic bags or have begun issuing biodegradable sacks. BUT THE RAPID EXPANSION OF CITIES (my italics) has outpaced such efforts, Mr. Ma said. The Chinese government 'had made great effort to treat household refuse, but with the rapid development of urbanization, the ability to dispose of garbage is insufficient,' said Mr. Ma of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs."

    So, what are we to make of this? In the first place, is not urbanization "code" for population growth? In the second place, are these not the people we are "waiting for" until 2030 to address the pressing issue of climate change? Certainly, in the memorandum of understanding President Obama just struck with China, he said they will be on board by 2030. Only 15 more years to wait, during which, in the meantime, by 2025, "the amount of plastic waste fouling the seas [may] equal 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline."

    Gee. I wonder what kind of impact that will have on our national parks? We only have all of those national seashores allegedly about to disappear under rising seas. The point here is that long before that ever happens, they will likely be encased in plastic from end to end.

    How is it that we can reasonably expect so-called green energy to save us from examples like this? I agree. Malthus was a couple of centuries early, but who is to say he was wrong? Call it what you will--urbanization, deforestation, erosion, pollution, etc., etc., etc. All are code for things "out of hand." If we don't get them back in hand, what good does it do to grow technology in a different form?

    Once upon a time, the environmental movement taught the facts of growth. Now it teaches wizardry. China says no? Then we'll wait. Well, if the problem is so pressing, how is it we can afford to wait?

    Is that good public policy? is it worth losing your public lands over? In that case, enjoy your walk on the beach, but please don't complain about the plastic. It happened to come all the way from China. You can fish it out and call it "exotic." But don't blame the Koch brothers for putting it there. Your president did that by agreeing to wait.

  • NPCA: Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Evidence Of Why California Desert Protection And Recreation Act Is Needed   2 weeks 3 days ago

    According to Mr Runte Malthusian view of the world, population control is the silver bullet. As usual, one needs to be careful what one wishes for. Without population growth, we get less economic activity and therefore less means to pay for our pension/social security or National parks. While it's pretty clear that this planet cannot support an unlimited population, limiting growth wouldn't be without its own problems.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago
    It will not be long before someone proposes a fee to use the restroom.

    RMackie the Forest Service and BLM are already way ahead of NPS on that one. Lots of places where all anyone wants to do is get out the car and head off up a trail. They parachute in a porta-potty and make it a pay-for-parking site. One of my colleagues has quipped that the toilet is the Number One (and Number Two) point of contact between the federal lands agencies and the public. Why wouldn't they want to monetize that?

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago
    Well, we're back to the simple fact that IF the Congress were to adequately FUND the NPS for expected operations and backlogs and such, THEN the arguments about no additional fees might hold water.

    Rick B I certainly agree in principle, but it's been my observation that there is not enough money in the world to get any federal agency to admit that it is "adequately" funded and stop asking for more. The fact that the NPS (or any agency) does not get all the funding to which they think they are entitled does not give them the right to tax the public directly to make up the perceived shortfall.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Based on the daily articles here at NPT, there is a new or increased backcountry fee almost weekly within the NPS. As an E.TN native, I also appreciate our state park system. When folks can go to the state parks for free, use of the Smokies backcountry decreased. And the NPS is very successful in driving down use of certain areas. Charging to see fireflies is a slippery slope. They say it is for parking but that is more about crowd control. And control seems to be the underlying theme of these backcountry fees as well. I believe the NPS sees humans as "the problem". They need to start seeing horses as "the problem" in the Smokies anyway. There is no comparison between the damage done by one horse on a fragile environment and 200 backpackers. Yet horses get a free pass. Horse folks rarely backpack. What is happening, I'm afraid, is folks are desiring more local control of the NPS so arbitrary fee implementation will be nixed. I can assure you that if someone here in TN proposed paying to sleep in a state park, several heads would roll.

    I have learned first hand that the lack of NPS oversight and bs law known as the Federal Lands Recreation Act have given Jarvis and his cabal free range to administer fees for hiking trails. And it is just the same principal as paying to check out a library book, I don't care what anyone says because in the Smokies, we sleep on UNIMPROVED ground. The NPS didn't create it, maintain it or administer it. They don't provide water, flat tent spaces or even bear cables. (friends groups provide that). The tide is turning on manipulative NPS bureaucrats and fee managers and they are getting it in now while they can.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    While the bottom fifth of earners pay more than 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the top 1 percent pays closer to 5 percent,

    So what? Of course someone with low income is going to pay a larger share of their income for anything they buy. They pay more of their income for food, gas, clothing ..... Are you proposing the wealthy pay more for gas than the non-wealthy?

    And I will ask the question again. Why should person A pay more than person B no matter their income?

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    A different take on taxes than that presented by EC.

    While the bottom fifth of earners pay more than 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the top 1 percent pays closer to 5 percent, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates. Percentage of income is, of course, only one way to measure the tax burden — in sheer dollar terms, the wealthy pay far more than the poor. Still, the Keystone report’s authors, Greg LeRoy and Stephen Herzenberg, argue that a less regressive tax structure is the answer to state budget woes, in what is basically a sophisticated pitch for a millionaire’s tax. “It’s time to have a clear debate about the impact of inequality on public finance,” Mr. LeRoy said.

    Taxing the top fifth of earners at the same rate as the middle class would bring in $200.5 billion to state and local coffers, the report says. Taxing just the top 1 percent at the same rate as the middle class would bring in $88.5 billion, 10 times the amount needed to restore five years’ worth of cuts to higher education. The report also breaks it down state by state, saying that Texas and Florida, at the top of the list, would raise about $40 billion each if they taxed the top 20 percent at the middle-class rate, while Kansas and North Carolina would raise about $2 billion each.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Owen,

    I don't necessarily disagree with you on the backcountry fees. I think it is reasonable to charge to enter the park and provide a basic level of services - museums, parking lots, consessionair facility, trail maintenance, restroom facilties and others. When you start getting into backcountry activities where incremental costs are minimal, fees should be as well.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Well, we're back to the simple fact that IF the Congress were to adequately FUND the NPS for expected operations and backlogs and such

    Yes - lets charge someone else rather than the person using it. It is so much easier spending someone elses money.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Well, we're back to the simple fact that IF the Congress were to adequately FUND the NPS for expected operations and backlogs and such, THEN the arguments about no additional fees might hold water.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago
    That water went over the dam long ago.

    Indeed, you are correct. We've already established that the NPS is a whore. Now we're just haggling over the price.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    How about all the NPS units that still have no fees for backcountry use? Are they merely a year or so away from charging fees to administer reservations for backcountry sites? At what point is it justifiable to charge fees for entrance and use of NPS visitor centers and museums? Are fees charged for rock climbing, or are climbing routes no longer managed by a registration system? As you can tell, I am vehemently opposed to the NPS charging fees for backcountry use. In fact I wish the NPS would follow the lead of all our fine parks in East TN, and charge no fees at all for park entrance, and get rid of the backcountry use fees currently charged for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    It's the first dollar that changes everything.

    That water went over the dam long ago. My experience is that people value something far more if they pay for it than if it is given away.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago
    The notion that a $25 fee is pricing anyone out of the parks is just absurd

    ec With all due respect it's not the $20 or the $25 or the $5 or the $10. It's the first dollar that changes everything. It changes the public from owners into customers and the agencies from public servants into business enterprises. Some people think that's just fine. I happen to think it's a tragedy.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago
    Does anyone really know how much of the tax money of the American people the National Park Service is spending to celebrate 2016?

    The FY2015 appropriations include $35 million in "new" money toward sprucing things up for the centennial. Of that $25m is for operations and $10m is matching funds to attract grants.

    Obama's FY2016 budget request (widely considered DOA in Washington) asks for an extra $826 million. Of that, $326m would be added to regular appropriations including $20m to create a fund to pay for transportation of urban children to parks and other public lands. (Editorial aside: Maybe if there weren't so many fees their whole families could afford to go?) The other $500 million would be a new fund for maintenance needs, part of which could be tapped by other land agencies. This is just the administration's request, which I repeat is not considered to have much chance on the hill.

    Another possibility is a bill rumored to be being drafted by Senators Portman (R-OH)and Cantwell (D-WA) to set up a $100 million fund to match private donations.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I have one additional thought. Does anyone really know how much of the tax money of the American people the National Park Service is spending to celebrate 2016? I sure don't know and I wonder if anyone does. I suspect it is more than most people realize.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I believe our national parks are becoming just too expensive for many Americans. These fees will not solve the National Park Service's financial problems, nor will new fees provide the funding necessary to support the latest expansion to the national park system. Congress really needs to stop creating so many new national parks until all of our existing parks can be funded and maintained to the standard that the American people have a right to expect. Congress should not continue the problem of increasing the obligations of the National Park Service and refuse to authorize the necessary monies to pay for the new and existing parks.

    As I said before, Congress should give the American people a real present for 2016 and abolish all visitor fees.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I think much of this is a result of our failure to equitably and progressively (based on income and wealth), tax ourselves to maintain the functions of government that our important to all of us.

    How can you possibly argue that? Half our population pays nothing in federal income taxes. The top 1% pay 30% of the federal tax burden and the top 20% pay over 70%.

    I want you to explain why person A should pay any more than person B. There is a reason but the progressives generally won't admit it.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Very interesting discussion, fees are a complicated issue, I support some fees, as EC points out, nothing is free. On the other hand, and it certainly does not make me right on the issue, fees are really beginning to be stacked up on citizens. It is a form of regressive taxation. I think much of this is a result of our failure to equitably and progressively (based on income and wealth), tax ourselves to maintain the functions of government that our important to all of us. National defense, education, research and development, police and fire protection, well the list is endless. It is disturbing to see the tax breaks pushed for those who already control a large % of the wealth of the nation and then impose more and more fees on those least able to pay them. Getting off subject here, but I just do not feel people should be charged to hike and camp in our wilderness areas. Just a bias I have.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago

    The notion that a $25 fee is pricing anyone out of the parks is just absurd. Yes the parks belong to the American people but that doesn't mean the people that use them shouldn't pay for the incremental amenities and costs of use.

  • Backcountry Fees Going Up At Rocky Mountain National Park   2 weeks 3 days ago
    While an overnight permit is required for backcountry camping year-round, the fee for obtaining the permit only applies for camping that occurs during the months of May through October when demand typically exceeds availability in many areas of the park’s backcountry.

    The summer/fall months when the flowers are most beautiful, the weather is most benign, and people of ordinary abilities are most likely to have a safe and enjoyable trip that's within their abilities - sorry, those months are reserved for those able and willing to pay.

    Saying this is a cost recovery fee is entirely bogus. It doesn't cost any more to issue a permit in the winter than it does the summer. This is purely Econ 101 - Supply and Demand, charge as much as the market will bear. The public lands agencies (NPS, BLM, USFS) have lost their public service mission and become mere merchants. Shame on them.

  • 10 Great Paddles In The National Park System   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Congaree actually made our list of 10 Great Family Paddles....;-)

  • 10 Great Paddles In The National Park System   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I'd second that, Gary. Floating down Cedar Creek under that canopy has been one of my favorite park experiences. (To think that Congaree NP made that other list Kurt alluded to the other day seems pretty odd.)