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Trail Quota/NP Permit system history

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Trail Quota/NP Permit system history

Postby Greengrassmonk » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:16 pm

Any of you know the history of this system? Since its always been around for me I don't know how it used to be, better or worse? I love national parks but can't stand the system in place for backpacking. The times I have gotten a permit I've found many(not all) rangers to be young kids who don't know alot about the area they are working. Why do we need these rangers controlling the back-country, I don't see enough people in the back-country to justify the whole thing?
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Re: Trail Quota/NP Permit system history

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:38 pm

You will need to explain what specifically you are complaining about. Generally both national forest and national park wilderness policies both locally at specific parks and more generally across the system are set up by a broad consensus of those in higher management positions for which there is considerable consideration to inputs from various public groups and individuals. Those rangers one meet both at ranger stations and in the backcountry are generally just following policy and doing so in a manner set up by others.

Do you have an issue with the policy on wilderness trails that have quotas versus those that do not?
Or issues with wilderness policies?
Or issues with the wilderness permit request system?
Or with those at ranger stations issuing walk-up permits?
Or with backcountry rangers you meed out on trails?

David
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Re: Trail Quota/NP Permit system history

Postby sparky » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:08 pm

Don't look to park rangers for information unless you see them on the trail. When I ask questions to a ranger in an office I'll get a silly response. I find if I have a question for a ranger out on the traIl, I can get the information I am seeking.

I try to avoid national parks. Solitude is pretty important to me when I plan a trip.
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: Trail Quota/NP Permit system history

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:46 pm

I have backpacked in areas with no permits or quotos and in areas with permits, quotas and designated campsites (and high nightly fees!). I think the permit-quota system is good as long as it is free or minimal cost. Last year in the Wind Rivers (no permits or quotas) it was famine or feast - nobody for days, then wham - over 100 people on a major trail or an unexpected large group where I planned on camping. The quota system keeps popular trails from becoming overrun. I really have little problem with Sierra permits. The SF Bay area is something else! Point Reyes is horrible- costly and really restricted. I guess it is all a matter of supply and demand. If there is a high demand and short supply the land managers can restrict use and make money to boot. My impression is that land managers in the Bay Area really prefer if everyone were only to day-hike.

As for desk Rangers at permit stations, I have experienced both knowledgable and ignorant folks and have recieved good information, bad information and no information. I do not think you can generalize.
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Re: Trail Quota/NP Permit system history

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jul 20, 2010 6:38 pm

Ditto on the "what are you really upset about" question.

The rangers in the office and the rangers on the trails are two different kinds - the law enforcement backcountry guys frequently know a lot more about rules and regs and trail conditions.

The Yosemite system may be crazy but it is that way precisely because it is so impacted - millions of people try to go backpacking there. Without it the park would be ruined. You are not seeing a lot of people out there BECAUSE of the system. Quotas are very strict for that reason, minimizing the wear and tear on the wilderness. I suppose because I have navigated their system so often and can drive to an office within hours it does not strike me as being so intolerable.

SEKI is very different, but the fifteen dollar charge is not so much an issue for me - some of the best trips are in that park, and it's less impacted than Yosemite (Rae Lakes and Lakes Trail being exceptions) for the most part. I have yet to not get a permit on a walk in basis there.

I have zero complaints about the Sierra NF permitting - never been refused my first choice there. Never had an issue with rangers either. And I found the guys on the phone at Inyo to be a little confusing/confused at times with their answers, but still very helpful and not so grumpy as the overwhelmed folks in the wilderness offices at Yosemite. (I have heard some hair raising things in line for permits in Yosemite - those poor folks behind the desk get all kinds, some refusing to take a bear can, others just not getting it and asking questions over and over... )
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Re: Trail Quota/NP Permit system history

Postby Greengrassmonk » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:59 pm

Dave to answer your question, yes on these.

"Or issues with the wilderness permit request system?
Or with those at ranger stations issuing walk-up permits?
Or with backcountry rangers you meed out on trails"

I just don't see the need for them, in the current system. They are wilderness police, we should call them when needed, but not have to check in with them upon arrival after going through their checkpoint or be asked for "papers please" out on the trail. :rolleyes:

The wilderness rules are good, and most rangers are cool people. I'm not upset.
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Re: Trail Quota/NP Permit system history

Postby paul » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:13 pm

Greengrassmonk wrote:I don't see enough people in the back-country to justify the whole thing?
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The reason you don't see enough people in the backcountry to to justify the whole thing is because of the whole thing. It is the function of the permit quota system to keep the numbers of people down so that impacts to the environment and to your experience are kept to a low level. Without it you'd see a lot more people - I can remember the days before quotas and there were a lot more people in the popular areas - and a lot more visible impacts on the environment in some areas. Yes, the system is not perfect and neither are the rangers - although I've found the rangers who actually patrol the backcountry to be far more experienced, knowledgeable and helpful than the rangers who staff the counters in the ranger stations - but I do believe we need some regulation in these most popular areas. It's actually not so hard to find areas where the rules are simpler - Emigrant Wilderness is one - but that's not where the most folks want to go, and where the most folks want to go is where we end up needing rules to keep those areas as special as they have always been. (and no, I don't work for the Park Service or Forest Service)
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Re: Trail Quota/NP Permit system history

Postby Take-a-Hike » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:47 pm

Some more .02 worth:
They can't do everything to please everyone, thus I think it's important to try and focus on what's best for most and the system/environment they're trying to protect and preserve.
Here in Ca, it's a lot easier to deal with, at least in and around the Sierras, then, say for example, my experience w/the NPS trying to do some backpacking in Glacier NP. That was horrendous. But, on the other hand, crossing into Canada and dealing w/Waterton Lakes NP, Glaciers sister NP, was like a breath of fresh air.
Overall, I like the reservation system here....so far our trips have been pre-planned and I make a permit reservation and since we go to less popular areas, I've never been denied a pre trip permit. I like that the forest service allows me to call and have the permit put into a box for after hours pick up....have argued w/NPS cause they don't do same. ](*,) Have actually jumped the gun a bit, left the actual permit at the station, left em a note and said "change your hours/make permits available. I hit the road, see you in "X" days". Of course, we never saw a soul on the trail and a day after I got back to work, got a nice phone call from them asking me if I had a good time, among other things. [-X
And as mentioned elsewhere, I have experienced comments from them, and especially up in Glacier, to please comment on any ideas to improve what they're trying to do.
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