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Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:47 pm
by dave54
True. The population is increasing rapidly. However -- the increase is almost solely due to immigration and 2nd gen immigrants. 3rd gen and subsequent currently have a negative growth rate. Wandering into immigration as an environmental issue is like taking a nighttime stroll through a minefield, so I will stop there.

Daisy's point is well taken. Our representatives in Congress do not read this forum. They do not know it even exists. So write or email your Congressional Representative and your Senators.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:49 pm
by longri
Wandering Daisy wrote:...but we are not going to just lie down and get thrown under the bus.
Intentional or not, Daisy, I love the mixed metaphor.

I fully agree with the sentiment of your post. But I also can't ignore the sheer weight of our increasing numbers. The selfish part of me wishes for a combination of natural catastrophe and economic disaster. Those things will reduce visitation to places like Yosemite. Temporarily at least.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:18 pm
by Wandering Daisy
Backpacking has had a similar "crush" in the 1970's. For a decade or so, the trails were crawling with backpackers. Probably something to do with the demographics- all of we now "boomers" were the right age. We soon settled down and had kids. Until the internet popularized "big name trails" there was actually less backcountry use than in the 70's. Permits and quotas were enacted. Personally, I do not find the permit system in any way reducing my access. It took me a few trips to get it all figured out when I moved here from Wyoming/Utah but after that, no problem. Now that I mostly go solo (not for solitude, but I have trouble finding others to go with me), I do not even get a permit- just do first-come. Again, no problem. Occassionally I do not get my desired trip, but I always have a good "Plan B".

Front-country use may have to be managed the same way during the busy season. It has always amazed me that summer is busy in Yosemite Valley- I avoid the valley in summer - too hot, too smoggy. "off-season" is always better. May-early June is the only exception when the waterfalls are at peak.

It is also possible that the demographics that are driving over-use of certain parks will change and the use may go down. Other economic factors may also come into play. Gas prices go way up and international travel may be less affordable. The Ken Burns documentary has also had a big impact the last few years. That may play out. Virtual reality may get to the point where young people would rather do a virtual tour of Yosemite than actually go there! Popularity is fickle; the "top 10 places to see" change from year to year.

We need to avoid fear mongering that pushes privitization as the answer. We should experiment with some public-private cooperation. We should experiment with some visitor limits or permitting. We should experiment with information campaigns that could spread out the use. We should experiment with limiting cars. And yes, maybe some experiment with rasing fees in a few selected places. The results need to be evaluated on real data. And above all we should never give up public control or our National Parks. Never should national treasures be managed for a profit motive or for the exclusive access of only certain groups.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:13 pm
by longri
Maybe. But it could be that it's not analogous to what happened in 70s.

I was listening to a report this morning about housing in the regions near Yosemite. More and more places are being converted to Airbnb short-term rentals. The rental market is essentially zero forcing people with local jobs to commute from outlying areas. Obviously there's a big demand out there.

Just a fad or the new normal?

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:42 am
by Hobbes
Wandering Daisy wrote:I do not think anyone in this discussion argues that parks are becoming over-used. The question is how to handle the inevitable visitor limits- price entrance to shut out the average citizen, or institute other limitations. We are a democracy so we debate, argue, write letters and engage in the discussion. To say that globalization and population explosion will prevent our ability to manage our national resources is really defeatist. I think most Americans, even those who do not use public lands, feel public lands are our birth-right and come hell or high water, we will protect them and our ability to use them. This will mean changing some of our behaviors, but we are not going to just lie down and get thrown under the bus.
In many respects, your perspective encapsulates the essence of the NorCal zeitgeist. Whereas, on the other hand, my sentiments mirror those held by SoCal business and political leaders.

I have to admit, the SoCal way of thinking was a bit of surprise when I moved down here from the Bay area to attend college in the late 70s. But, over time, I learned to adopt their perspective: you cannot stop the flow of people, therefore it is incumbent upon oneself to determine how best to leverage this reality for maximum personal benefit.

Almost 40 years later, the wisdom of this position is evident. SoCal always takes highway funds; the result being mammoth freeway systems. NorCal attempts to resist, so it shifts traffic to local surface streets and poorly thought out after-the-fact routing systems . Sacramento is a perfect case in point, with SR 99 being the poster child.

You can apply the same differences in mindset to many arenas, whether it is open space, park systems, suburban development and so on. One perspective is 'defeat', whereas the other is 'opportunity'. In retrospect, the NP system was merely a creation of its respective time, but for the most popular destinations, has already proven to be an obsolete construct.

Rather than retreat and survey the (changing) landscape, some choose to keep fighting certain battles. I actually admire the effort and consider it a virtuous path. But, my own inclination is to evaluate the altered circumstances and make the appropriate decisions based on new information. What is occurring tells me is to not waste my time, but rather to ID certain niche cut-outs and enjoy the peace for as long as it lasts.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:51 am
by rlown
I'm missing your point. 99 is actually a very nice drive to get to and from the West side trailheads; just freaking hot during July, but the roads are smooth. Sac just expanded its I-80 system South of the Sac airport near I-5 to 8 lanes. How is the 10 working out for you?

Once you understand the commute patterns, and can adjust, it's a breeze. Same with the parks.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:59 am
by longri
Hobbes, you lost me there with your comment on the wisdom of the SoCal way. Doesn't it have the worst traffic in the U.S.?

I appreciate your pragmatic approach but it seems that the only option that you've identified is a kind of retreat to the last remaining corners. That's how I feel too, that there's nothing I can do about what seems an inevitable decline. But it doesn't feel like an "opportunity" to me.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:46 am
by Hobbes
Longri, I'll address that comment in a moment, but in an effort to get the discussion back on point, the issue at hand is the NPS fee increase, which is aimed in part at associated problems of park over-use.

My contention is the NPs were the proper solution at the time of inception, but have perhaps become obsolete due to a number of different factors. If we consider their formulative period, the parks were conceived at a time when the western frontier had not yet closed, and the general overall sentiment was that nature was a resource to be exploited for the betterment of mankind.

The early proponents who promoted the concept of protecting certain areas within national park settings realized there were exceptions to this general rule. Individually, and in groups, they advocated for special use areas to be aside for purposes other than commerce. The result, of course, is the NP system, which by any reasonable measure has wildly exceeded the most optimistic expectations.

Now, to return to the SoCal mindset and freeway metaphor, we have a choice of attempting to resist population growth (aka "progress") by relying on solutions which were implemented over a century ago. Or, we can shed some tears in remembrance for what once was, and begin to deal with the reality of the situation at hand.

It is completely immaterial whether park visitors are foreigners, 2nd generation immigrants, or long-term California natives. The issue isn't demographics, but numbers. Secondly, humans are economic actors; that is, they will act accordingly to maximize their own economic interests. Third, at a compound annual growth rate of only 2% per annum, the approximate doubling rate is 35+- years. (

What this should tell anyone familiar with the situation is that attempting to solve these kinds of intractable problems with solutions developed decades ago simply will not work. So, one is faced with repeating feel good nostrums that reinforce notions of virtue, or they can clearly & plainly state the case and suggest alternatives.

The alternative is this case is practically identical to the solution implemented for over-crowded freeways: toll roads. Or, usage pricing dependent on demand. If Yosemite were to impose this kind of economic pricing policy, they could easily return the entire Valley area back to a state of nature. Of course, it would take northwards of $500/day to enjoy that kind of peace & quiet, but it could be delivered.

The alternative is sorry, half-assed attempts at dealing with the original mandates, while confronting the inexorable reality of population growth and the exponential function. Personally, I'm not interested in wasting my time with that kind of futile, suicide mission. I'd rather understand the situation, take advantage of its inevitability, and attempt to carve out a niche where the market hasn't yet realized an imbalance.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:06 am
by Wandering Daisy
Calling this a southern-vs-northern California issue is simplistic and devisive. Accepting the "gentrification" of our national parks as inevitable is retreat from the basic concepts our country (and the national park system) were founded upon. Yes, it does matter if visitors are citizens of international visitors. And this goes both ways- our afflunent citizens overwhelming other country's public spaces, as well as visa versa. Your comments seem to support the idea of protected land as only for a global elite. Seeking only self-interest and/or economic terms misses the moral aspect. This issue will not likley impact me much, with my senior pass and not that many years ahead of me. But it will surely impact my grandchildren and a majority of Americans. The national park principles are not outdated or unworkable. That attitude is a total cop-out.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:44 pm
by mrphil
Increase entrance fees marginally, maybe with a small impact fee thrown in, start charging a premium for parking in key areas. With a more effective shuttle system (not run by Aramark) from outside the park, it could also become a model of functional public/private partnership in the form of off-site parking owned and managed by private interests but serving NP visitors (they would have no stake or vested interest in the park itself, just in serving it from outside). Incentivize visitors by offering a workable shuttle schedule and some sort of entrance fee discount and/or combo package on parking and ride, on top of realizing a major saving over the high cost of direct impact of parking within the park itself (we all love a "deal"..real or perceived). Another benefit in this might also be reversion to a more natural state of such huge and widespread parking areas now required to handle the demand, thereby theoretically enhancing the experience of what the areas once were and should still be if it wasn't for acres and acres of parking spaces....nice meadow...too bad you covered it with asphalt...

Those backpacking or only visiting/parking at wilderness areas, and thus not using services at near the rate of "tourists" in the higher density locations, would then be still granted "access" at reasonable prices that would be commensurate with the actual costs to the NPS of their use. The great equalizer would be in the form of, the minute they have to park in order to visit a major tourist center such as the Valley, etc, they pay to park at the same rate as everyone else. People get being charged up the waazoo for parking, but they don't get being priced out of sacrosanct national treasures that they consider part of their heritage, national identity, and what they've been led to believe will always be the right of the people to visit and enjoy for generations to come.