Fees fall flat

  Dear HCN,

The "fee-demo" program certainly is a demonstration. It clearly demonstrates who controls Congress. After decades of my (and your) tax dollars supporting below-cost timber sales, clear-cutting of our national forests, mining and overgrazing of our public lands for the profit of a few, now I am supposed to pay a fee to simply walk upon the scattered lands that are left.

Bureaucrats tell us the fees are a great deal: "It costs more to go to a movie" ... "My health club costs more," they say. Well, equating our irreplaceable natural lands with a movie or any other form of human-contrived entertainment is insulting. The people pushing the fee-demo program are treating our public lands like amusement parks. I, for one, am not amused.

What worries me is the attitude that this "customer" relationship is fostering toward our wild lands. I'm afraid that wandering the forests and canyons of our public lands for peace and spiritual renewal will be degraded to a Disney-like experience. First you pay for an advance reservation, then you pay to get in the gate, then pay again for each additional activity. In fact, this sounds frighteningly like some of our national parks already.

I wonder what this teaches young people about the concept of public land. I guess you can only visit the real world if you can afford to get in.

Tracey Wiese
Twisp, Washington

The writer worked as a seasonal ranger for the National Park Service in 10 national parks.

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