[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
64°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
December 16
1902 - Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali), Gen. E.F. Beale's Syrian camel driver, dies at Quartzsite, Ariz. [story]


Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Dec 29, 2013

DianneErskineHellrigelBy now you’ve probably heard about the lawsuit in Arizona, in the Coronado National Forest, between the U.S. Forest Service and a group of recreational users.

The basic premise is that national forests belong to the people of the United States, and as such, the people should not be charged fees to park and recreate there. These fees, in the form of the Adventure Pass, might prevent some low-income people from visiting the forest, and thus it is, they argue, a form of double taxation.

We pay for the forest and services with our tax dollars. The Department of Agriculture then gives a percentage of our taxes to the Forest Service to manage said forest. The Adventure Pass is sold for $30 for an annual pass, and $5 for a day pass.

Part of the problem is dwindling federal tax dollars. When the Department of Agriculture loses revenue, the forests lose revenue. It’s that simple. Monetary cutbacks to our forests cause multiple, highly visible problems. Staff is limited, existing trails cannot be maintained, no new trails can be cut, fire suppression becomes more difficult (if not impossible), visitors centers are closed and bathrooms might not be maintained to the standards a visitor would wish. Even things such as volunteer programs could be impacted or completely nonexistent.

adventurepassIn the Angeles National Forest, the Forest Service collected $1.2 million in fees in 2011. These fees were used for maintenance and repairs, visitor services, and the cost of collection. Without the Adventure Pass fees, which I feel are negligible, I can only imagine how poorly the forest will fare.

The Adventure Pass program has been in effect for 16 years. The case in the Coronado Forest limited the Adventure Pass to areas with certain amenities such as bathrooms at trailheads and parking lots, all of which were to be maintained by the Forest Service. This current ruling applies to all Western states, but there is hope that the ruling will be applied nationwide.

The Angeles National Forest is determining how it will respond to this action. Currently, officials are suggesting that free-of-charge zones be created, which might include Elizabeth Lake, Frenchman’s Flat, Front Country, Little Rock, Mount Baldy, San Gabriel Canyon, Hoegees Trail Camp, Angeles Crest, Big Pines-Big Rock, Rowher-Drinkwater, and Big Tujunga. Other areas will still require an Adventure Pass to be displayed.

For me, this is a tough call. I agree with both sides. As a citizen of the United States, I own that forest, and I should be able to visit it without paying. I already pay piles of taxes for that privilege, and I expect it to be well maintained, spotless, with good trails for recreation, newly planted trees to replace the old, and fresh, clean, flowing water from every creek and river.

But what if there are not enough funds? What if the forest becomes a dirty, filthy swamp because there is no money to attend to its needs? No trash pickup, no volunteer groups because there is no funding for forest oversight … no clean toilets, no graffiti removal, no security. I see the possibility of the forest quickly becoming a disaster.

I appreciate everything the rangers do in the forest. I appreciate every single volunteer. I think the money paid to the Forest Service should be increased so services to the public can be increased. But if the funding is not there, the solutions are limited.

adventurepass2

Click to enlarge & read

One solution would be to increase fees for every visitor, not eliminate them. That would go over like a lead balloon with the people using the forest. It might also deny the less fortunate among us from ever seeing the beauty of our forest.

A better option in my mind is to support the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Campaign, which is trying to turn the San Gabriel Mountains into a National Recreation Area. This action alone would not change any of the current uses within the forest. It would not affect anyone’s water rights. It would not change the management of the National Forest.

What it would do would be to bring in the National Park Service as a partner with the Angeles National Forest. It would bring roving rangers for security and visitor education. It would bring more volunteer groups, maintenance, new trails, and connectivity from Santa Clarita all the way to Cucamonga.

It would improve the air and water quality, animal migrations, and protect more endangered species (plant and animal) than the Forest Service has been able to do alone. It would also protect sensitive Native American sites that have been largely neglected.

Did you know Santa Clarita is the second largest city to butt up against the forest boundary? And yet we have not one trail that goes into the forest. To visit the forest on a sanctioned trail, we have to drive 1.5 hours to get there.

We need equal access to the forest. Currently we have none.

I am working on making this dream of the San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area a reality for all of us. If you’d like to help, let me know. I’m looking for business and individual supporters. You can contact me via the Internet at zuliebear@aol.com.

It won’t cost you anything at all, but it will give you equal access, it will bring services and businesses to Santa Clarita, and it will mean more multi-use trails for everyone. It will bring jobs to Santa Clarita, and lots of local opportunities for recreation.

Thus far I have 33 businesses in Santa Clarita that support the National Recreation Area, and thousands of individuals. It’s a good idea. It’s a sustainable idea, and it won’t cost you.

The choice is yours, really. You can send me a letter of support for the National Recreation Area at the email address above, sign a petition, or just tell me you want your business listed as a supporter.

If you want your voice be heard on the issue of the Adventure Pass, you can send an email to Tamara Wilton at twilton@fs.fed.us. There might be public meetings on the subject in January. I will keep you informed.

Remember, the forest is yours. Its fate is in your hands.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

2 Comments

  1. richsbca says:

    The public should not pay the price when federal politicians fail to properly fund programs that provide for federal public lands. Federal agencies should not be allowed to break the law because they don’t get enough money. The law (which was written and passed by the federal gov) is very clear about where a fee can and cannot be collected. We must all follow the law.

    Turning parts of the forest into a national park will mean a higher entrance fee for that area and will keep low income people away! This isn’t the answer.

    Initially all fees collected would stay in the area where they were collected. So a busy area, such as San Gabriel Canyon, would have all fees collected from visitors of San Gabriel Canyon. The Forest Service changed this and made it so the funds go into a large pot of money at the forest level. This is not a good policy and hurts the places that really need the funds!

    Don’t punish the end users (the public) for bad policies of federal agencies and gov!

  2. Chris says:

    I feel the adventure pass is a second tax to use OUR public lands. I already pay taxes plus an ohv registration fee on my dirt bike. I can’t help that our mucked up gov’t steals this money and sends it elsewhere. Get the government straightened out, and the funds will be there.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Sunday, Dec 10, 2017
Derelict since the 1994 earthquake, the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall was the first productive oil refinery in the American West and is believed to be the oldest existing refinery in the world today. Unfunded restoration plans have come and gone. Now that the surrounding property is under development, will the promises be kept?
Friday, Dec 8, 2017
A National Memorial designation for St. Francis Dam will honor those who lost their lives in the nation’s worst engineering disaster and the role it played in ushering in a new era of oversight for dam construction.
Thursday, Dec 7, 2017
Eliminating net neutrality would allow Internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast, Spectrum and AT&T to create a “slow lane” and a “fast lane” on the Internet, prioritizing certain companies over others and dictating what websites you’re able to visit and at what speed, or even blocking you entirely from visiting certain websites of your choice.
Monday, Dec 4, 2017
In his monthly message for December 2017, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin encourages residents to shop and party locally during the holidays to keep the cash in our community.
Friday, Dec 1, 2017
The big day is almost upon us and a year of celebrations is wrapping up. On December 15, 2017 our city will officially be 30 years old.
Thursday, Nov 30, 2017
Create and decorate your own holiday wreaths, centerpieces, candles and ornaments using a large assortment of fresh-cut greenery, pine cones and other beautiful natural treasures this weekend at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1902 - Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali), Gen. E.F. Beale's Syrian camel driver, dies at Quartzsite, Ariz. [story]
The National Weather Service has called a Fire Weather Watch for this weekend for Los Angeles and Ventura County mountains and valleys including the Santa Clarita Valley due to gusty northeast wind and low relative humidity.
Weekend Fire Weather Watch Called for SCV
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a 21-year-old man who had an outstanding warrant and was allegedly in possession of cocaine in Canyon Country early Thursday.
Bicyclist Arrested for Warrant, Cocaine in Canyon Country
Valencia-based Princess Cruises, voted the #1 international cruise line in Japan, announced its 2019 program featuring Japanese-built Diamond Princess returning for her sixth season, sailing roundtrip from Tokyo (Yokohama) and Kobe.
Princess Cruises Unveils 2019 Japan Cruise Program
Valencia-based Princess Cruises released its 2019 Canada and New England cruise schedule, featuring Regal Princess and Caribbean Princess on the line’s largest fall deployment and the opportunity to visit Greenland roundtrip from New York
Princess Cruises Sets Fall 2019 Cruises to Canada, New England
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department looks back at five years of work by its Domestic Highway Enforcement Team, which has disrupted the operations of the drug cartels by confiscating millions of dollars in illegal drugs and drug money.
Elite LASD Drug Enforcement Team Disrupts Cartel Operations
College of the Canyons quarterback Andrew Brito, wide receiver Desean Holmes and linebacker KJ Latu have been named to the 2017 Region III All-California Community College Football Team.
Brito, Holmes, Latu Represent Cougars on All-State Team
Tickets and sponsorships are now available for the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce's 2018 awards ceremony and installation of new officers at Tournament Players Club in Valencia on Friday night, January 26.
Jan. 26: SCV Chamber of Commerce 2018 Awards, Installation Gala
Sponsorships are now open for the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation's 2018 Economic Outlook Conference, set for Thursday, March 8, 2018 at a location to be announced shortly.
SCV 2018 Economic Outlook Conference Tickets, Sponsorships Open
SetPoint Medical, a Valencia-based biomedical company developing therapy for chronic inflammatory diseases, has received approval from the FDA to initiate a pilot trial in the U.S. for patients with drug-refractory rheumatoid arthritis.
FDA OK’s SetPoint Bioelectronic Therapy Study for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., representing the United States - and states and regions leading on climate across the globe - joined world leaders at the One Planet Summit Tuesday, the two-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement.
Brown in Paris: ‘We Can’t Wait for White House to Wake Up’
The regular Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 19 has been canceled, according to a notification from the city of Santa Clarita today.
City Cancels Dec. 19 Planning Commission Meeting
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, December 19, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Dec. 19: L.A. County Board of Supervisors Meeting
L.A. County's Bringing Our Loved Ones Home Task Force officials unveiled their final recommendations, endorsing a plan to use a voluntary system of trackable bracelets to find people prone to wandering, like those suffering from Alzheimer’s or autism.
County Task Force Calls for Tracking Bracelets to Locate Lost Individuals
The Community Development Commission of the county of Los Angeles looks back on 35 years of advancing its core program areas: affordable housing and housing, community and economic development.
County Community Development Commission Marks 35th Anniversary
Metro is seeking two new members to join the Measure M Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee.
Metro Seeks 2 New Measure M Oversight Committee Members
The California Air Resources Board approved a $663 million low-carbon transportation plan Thursday to increase the use of clean cars, heavy-duty trucks, buses and freight equipment.
Air Resources Board OK’s $663 Million for Clean Vehicles
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station has released its public safety and crime information report for Saugus (Zone 4) for December 4-10, 2017.
Crime Blotter: Shoplifting, Petty Theft in Saugus
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed his strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s illegal attempt to suspend the 2015 Clean Water Rule for two years.
California AG, 10 Others Oppose Feds’ Suspension of Clean Water Rule
Conservation groups on Friday lobbied a federal judge for permission to join a fight between the federal government and a ranching association over a trio of California amphibian species.
Conservationists Lobby to Join Fray Over Frog Habitat
1987 - Incorporation: Santa Clarita officially becomes a city [story]
With an offense that challenged the program’s single-season goals record, The Master’s University women’s soccer team was almost almost never out of any game it played: The Mustangs were always within striking range.
Lady Mustangs Within Range of Directors’ Cup Top Spots
When Ed Jackiewicz met Tera Trujillo in spring 2015, she was studying at a desk she’d carried to the corner of the California State University, Northridge soccer field, in a “time out” of sorts, unable to practice because she’d just earned a D in an economics class.
CSUN’s “Under Armour Faculty” Promotes Academic Success in Student-Athletes
When Rafael Munoz recalls his time at the Layer 8 Computer Security Club at California State University, Northridge, he feels proud and thankful.
CSUN’s Tech Education Makes Top 10 List
The city of Santa Clarita Arts and Events division is currently seeking proposals for solo exhibits for 2018 in the gallery space at The MAIN, the City’s newest arts venue in Old Town Newhall.
City Seeking Artists for 2018 Solo Exhibits
NORTHRIDGE, Calif.---CSUN Men's Basketball returns to the road for the final time in the non-conference season this weekend.
CSUN to Face-Off Against Formal Rival Eastern Washington
Here is a list of Santa Clarita arts-related events for Friday:
Dec. 15: Santa Clarita Arts Calendar
This Friday and Saturday (Dec. 15-16), The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance brings their annual Winter Dance Concert to the REDCAT stage.
Dec. 15, 16: Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance Concert at REDCAT
The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board has approved naming Dr. Collyn Nielsen as Chief Administrative Officer and Jan Hayes-Rennels as Director of Special Programs and Staff Development.
Hart Appoints Nielsen, Hayes-Rennels to District Office Positions
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The CSUN men's volleyball team was picked to finish third in the inaugural Big West Men's Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll announced Thursday.
Big West Pre-Season Coaches Poll Puts Matadors Volleyball at No. 3
A 44-year-old transient was arrested by SCV Sheriff's Station deputies Wednesday afternoon after he allegedly tried to pick up his 8-year-old niece from a school in Santa Clarita.
Suspect Arrested in Attempted Kidnapping
It was a night to honor exceptional mentors at California State University, Northridge, but the five recipients of the 2017 Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Awards just wanted to talk about their students.
CSUN Pays Tribute to Mentors Who Have Made a Difference
The words leapt right off the page and hung in the air, heavy, encircling the audience. Their creator stood, offering his gifts of verse — shared in a powerful baritone voice.
Literary Star Power Comes to CSUN
While critical fire conditions continue through Friday, the final numbers for the Rye Fire have been released.
Officials Release Final Numbers on Rye Fire
The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board held it’s annual reorganizational meeting Wednesday night, naming Steve Sturgeon as Board President.
Steve Sturgeon Named 2018 Hart Board President
Castaic Elementary School is collecting gently used children's clothing and toys for the victims of the Creek Fire in Sylmar.
Local School Collecting Clothes, Toys for Creek Fire Victims