What's wrong with user fees?

  Sen. Larry Craig’s article about "Fees and our forests don’t always fit" makes a few good points, although I think that it misses some others.

What I do not understand is the reluctance of Sen. Craig to support these user fees, since according to him, activities like hunting, fishing and hiking are done on "unimproved portions" of the forests. Doesn’t anyone involved in these activities need a road to access the forests, maybe some sanitary amenities at the trailheads, trails to hike, bike or ride ORVs to the hunting spots or the fishing holes, the collection of trash along these trails, et cetera? Who stocks the lakes with fish? Who finances the establishment and the maintenance of all these access roads, trails and amenities?

Traditionally, the financing of these Forest Service activities was from taxes, but with the federal deficit being as high as it is, the pressure to reduce expenditures in the Forest Service is high. This is well demonstrated by the efforts to consolidate administrative areas and reduce or outsource jobs. The maintenance of the current facilities therefore cannot be guaranteed to continue at levels we are accustomed to.

So, why not charge a user fee to help the Forest Service to do what it needs to? I urge Sen. Craig to support a permanent system of user fees for the access of our national treasures.

Arthur Kull
Idaho Falls, Idaho
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