We are writing this letter in protest of the proposed recreation fees and restrictions that have been proposed for the Tonto National Forest in Gila County.
We especially are concerned about the turning over of our national forest land to outsiders to administer and set and collect fees as they see fit. This “for-profit fee” benefits only the concessionaires and does not take into consideration the public who owns the land in the first place. No fees are returned to the Tonto National Forest (although the Forest Service has been the one who has improved and set up these sites). Who is going to enforce the proposal that says that the concessionaire cannot charge people for parking/picnicking along roads or trail sides, general access, us of “dispersed areas with low or no investment,” driving or hiking through the area, undeveloped campsites, stopping at scenic pullouts, use of the roads or waterways or extra services needed as a result of a disability? Forest Service personnel or do the concessionaires do it themselves?
The projects are done (bought and paid for with our tax money) and we the taxpayers are going to have to pay more concessionaires’ fees just to walk, park and picnic on the forests that we own. A lot of us won’t be able to see the forest because the fees!
It is also our understanding that the Forest Service will still be providing services to these areas like law enforcement, roads, etc., paid for by us, the taxpayers, not the concessionaire. We object to this!
This property belongs to all legal citizens of the United States who have been required to pay taxes to acquire this land, improve it, and certainly enjoy it, without getting ripped off.
We purchased our Golden Age Passport as soon as we were eligible and we have enjoyed many years of fishing, hunting, camping, sightseeing, hiking and exploring with our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around the United States. Not having to honor federal issued day passes or permits makes us taxpayers furious! Setting their own “profit fees” for work the Forest Service has done is insane! It is our forest and should be run to benefit us, not exclude us.
Finally, with the economy in such a sorry shape, the Forest Service’s proposed plan will really curtail the use of the forest and will severely limit people with limited incomes from using and enjoying what is really theirs to start with.
We feel that the Forest Service is giving away their responsibility for administering the Tonto National Forest to others.
W.A. and Janet Scott