Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

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dougieb
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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by dougieb » Fri Feb 12, 2021 7:09 pm

Wow, great details here. Thanks for your outreach and for reporting back to all of us.








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maverick
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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by maverick » Fri Feb 12, 2021 7:26 pm

- Walk-in “W” permits now issued 2 weeks in advance & can go fast for popular trailheads.
- “W” permits are posted online at 7:00 am 2 weeks in advance. (Rolling daily? Or rolling weekly? = not clear yet!)
- “W” permits are automatically confirmed as are within 2 weeks of trip/permit date. (I think?)
Let's try to change this, we got Inyo and SEKI to change their mind in the search for Larry Conn case, we can do it in this situation too, sign. :)

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21262
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by michaelzim » Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:54 am

Yet another added update to what I have posted so far c/o further follow-up talk with Inyo NF supervisor:

- The “sitting at the computer at 7:00 am continually refreshing to try and lock in a permit before they all disappear” thing!
This needs a bit more explanation, as the whole Covid issue in 2020 and the huge increase in people going to the mountains really overloaded the staff and system.

The rec.gov site was not set up to deal with that adequately as the “W” permits could not be “refreshed” on a rolling daily basis for every east side trailhead, etc. Just too many trailheads and too much demand for the new setup. So Inyo had to manually load every trailhead with the new available permit quotas individually. This took so long that they decided to do it in a rolling weekly block v. every day, as the time it took was basically the same. Thus the 7:00 am, to whenever it was completed experience (usually 10:00 am) that drove people nuts every Monday!
The NF folks are well aware of this pain in the rear, and have put in an emergency request for the rec.gov software geeks to fix it asap. The hope is that an automatic rolling daily update will be functioning this spring for Inyo, and maybe by the time Sierra NF kicks into the system. The hope is that it will function for all permits/locations in due course.

- There is a trend to get a common “14 days” trigger time working in the rec.gov system for the obvious change points. Like cancellation windows, refund times, permit-holder reminder emails, start of return confirmations by permit holders, new “W” permit postings, etc. This would kind of make it easier for the public to understand and remember the key timeline of much in the permit process.
P.S. This does not help those of us who depend on and like the old 24 hour, spontaneous, next day walk-in permit window so much!

- Bots and permits getting gobbled up!
Apparently there has been concern that permits were being obtained en masse or by Bots causing them to all go at many trailheads within minutes of posting.
Inyo did audits of this to find out if it was true. Result was that NO malicious permit buying could be found! Permits were being bought with different credit cards, from different addresses, different states, different group sizes, etc., etc. No re-selling (illegal too), and no evidence of fraud or Bots showed up at all. It was just huge demand. The presumption is that it may cool off somewhat when people can do all the other forms of recreation post Covid.

…There is more! However, this posting is long enough already so I am going to wait and add to it later as the additions are more generally informative (like fees and why the NF folks like the longer “W” window, etc.) and can wait.

*** Please sign the petition that Maverick posted! ***
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21262

Best ~ Michaelzim

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by rlown » Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:59 am

In my working life, I worked with a product called QTP. An automated testing tool. Could be set up to script a login and processing.
Oh yes, It could be used for recreation.gov, even with different logins, registration, cc registration, etc.

Bot thing is completely possible.

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by TurboHike » Sat Feb 13, 2021 12:10 pm

I was curious so I logged into recreation.gov today just to see what is still available for Inyo. After my experience yesterday and the day before, I was assuming that everything would be booked. But that is not the case.

As I write this, I am looking at the availability for Aug 9th through Aug 13th (5 day window). There are a total of 64 Inyo trailheads that are listed on recreation.gov, and 18 have zero availability for this 5 day window. For these, one would need to target a "walk up" permit 14 days ahead of time, or get lucky with a cancellation.

For the remaining 46 trailheads, there are permits available, in some cases for all 5 days. Plus, there are several non-quota trails among the 64, so no problem there. My takeaway: anyone who wants to go backpacking during this window can go backpacking. Sure, it might not be the person's first choice or even second choice, but the access is there.

To get a first choice, one would most likely need to be flexible with their entry date. Plus, of course, there are also other NF permits, as well as SEKI permits, which add other options for trip planning. As michaelzim pointed out, let's hope demand cools off post covid.

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by SSSdave » Sat Feb 13, 2021 5:25 pm

michaelzim >>># Night boxes for permits also had to stop due to the “touch” fear, etc.

That is no longer a valid pandemic issue or myriad people would have been infected simply going to supermarkets. In the early months we were even washing grocery products but no one has been doing so for months as research made that clear that shows it is at most a very uncommon means of contagion. Most of us still use alcohol cleaners on our hands after touching say door handles entering public buildings and the same ought be done touching anything possibly contaminated including any night box. To use that as an argument to not use night boxes, goes too far.

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by LMBSGV » Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:18 pm

I don’t buy that bots are not being used. I am quite experienced at syncing the clock to NIST and hitting the book button immediate after the clock reads 6:59:59. I’ve used that technique to snag campsites on Recreation.gov on four different occasions this year at extremely high demand campgrounds.

For the trailheads, when I hit the button at the exact second, the screen showed “W” for Bishop Pass, both Cottonwood trailheads and Piute Pass. When the reserve quota for those is 22, 36, 24, and 18, I don’t believe that there were that many individuals going for all those trailheads who are faster than I was. Even if it was someone booking for the maximum group, that’s still only 15 people, not 22, 36 or 24. All those trailheads were booked immediately at 7:00:01. That's 100 permits booked in one second. The one explanation that fits is someone using bots and booking them under different names with different credit cards.

This has been going on for years for concert tickets. I’m a Springsteen fanatic so I know about how the scalpers manipulate the system. Even when there's a 2 or 4 ticket limIt per person, the scalpers and their bots get around it. if you search the internet, one can find numerous explanations of how it’s done. What is happening on Recreation.gov sounds exactly like what goes on with concert tickets.
Last edited by LMBSGV on Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by wildhiker » Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:07 am

I agree that the Inyo NF staff are naive to believe that there are no bots booking tickets.

I worked in IT for 40 years and there are numerous ways to write a script or program that checks automatically at synchronized times and then books for you, faster than anyone could manually type. It would take some work to figure out how to interface with specific systems, but there are plenty of IT geeks who could do it. Most importantly, there is no way to distinguish between a reservation booked manually and one booked by a bot based on the data that the Forest Service gets. I think the only way you could tell is to have timing data for the transactions to the millisecond.

We really need to have true walk-up permits! Those can never be taken by "bots", or by people in front of their computers who are reserving "just in case". In fact, you have to invest time and money and full intention to show up at the ranger station to get one. The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest successfully did walk-up permits all summer of 2020 for the Hoover Wilderness, using a "walk-up window" on the side of the ranger station. I know - I got two of those permits last summer. The other Forests and Parks could do the same. I signed Maverick's petition.

-Phil

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by Harlen » Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:39 am

Maverick thanks for your effort on this:
Let's try to change this, we got Inyo and SEKI to change their mind in the search for Larry Conn case, we can do it in this situation too, sign. :)

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21262
We really need to have true walk-up permits! Those can never be taken by "bots", or by people in front of their computers who are reserving "just in case". In fact, you have to invest time and money and full intention to show up at the ranger station to get one. The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest successfully did walk-up permits all summer of 2020 for the Hoover Wilderness, using a "walk-up window" on the side of the ranger station. I know - I got two of those permits last summer. The other Forests and Parks could do the same. I signed Maverick's petition.

-Phil
Thanks to you too Phil. I will call and to write starting Monday.

Phone #s:

-USFS Sierra NF, Prather: (559) 855-5360

-USFS Toiyabe, Bridgeport station: (760) 932-7070

-USFS Inyo NF, White Mtn. Ranger District, Bishop station: (760) 873-2500

-USFS Inyo, NF, Lonepine station (760) 876-6200 (hit '0' after initial message to get a person)

-USFS, Mammoth Station and WP office: (760) 924-5500

-SEKI, Lodgepole area? (559) 565-4436 / WP# (559) 5653766 / Mineral King area?: (559) 565 3768

-Yosemite NP, WP# (209) 372-0740 / Yosemite VC, for a person (sometimes) (209) 372-0308

Thanks for these Michael:
Alex Olow Public Affairs/Media Specialist
Fire PIO
U.S. Forest Service
Sierra National Forest
p: 559-297-0706 x4999
f: 559-294-4809
email: alexander.olow@usda.gov

1600 Tollhouse Rd
Clovis, CA 93611
www.fs.fed.us

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by TurboHike » Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:59 am

For someone like me who is not an IT guy, what's the point of using a bot for a backpacking permit? It's really not like a concert or a sporting event where a scalper can re-sell the tickets in the secondary market for a profit. I've never seen a backpacking permit advertised for sale, anywhere. So, what say you? Are they used only so people don't have to sit at their computers at 7 am daily until they get a permit?

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