Fees may keep some areas clean, not by virtue of weeding out the offensive litterbug, but by providing the necessary manpower to keep the given area clean. I personally don't feel that other people trashing an area is justification to charge me to clean up after them. As far as I am concerned all this comes down to is double-dipping, the government collects taxes from us, some of that is alloted to maintain these forest areas. Then over and above what they have already taken they insist on more, all to access the lands we theoretically own.
I can understand your frustration Joe, many a time have fee programs been knocked without the slightest hint of a replacement plan. What it all comes down to is that the forest service needs more money to patrol, clean and maintain areas that are abused. I don't feel that charging primarily responsible, non-offending users a fee is the right answer. The answer is to charge the offenders, and charge them heavily. Littering the high-way carries a hefty fine. Why shouldn't littering the trail? If there were rangers patrolling the trails, (I have never seen a ranger on a trail, only hanging around the trailhead or the occasional rangers who have set up off-trail observation posts) and issuing hefty tickets to litterbugs, I believe the funds would be found to better maintain heavily used and abused areas.
The forest service already has some systems in place that are fee-free and have been a great success in cleaning up trouble areas. I don't know if anyone is familiar with Bulldog Canyon in the Goldfield mountains. It is an off-road area that was heavily abused by OHVs and target shooters. Rather than charge a fee to access the area they set up a free permit system. The permits are available to anyone who asks, with the permit comes access to the park and the trails approved for use. There are often rangers who pass through the area and I have seen them issuing tickets several times. since the institution of the permit system the area has made a remarkable turn for the better. Many of the old trails have been shut down and are re-vegitating. A lot of the target shooters have relocated and, though the shell casings remain, the constant pops of gunfire have almost ceased to exist. Moreover most of the trash that was hauled in to be shot at (water-heaters, mattresses, refrigerators etc) has since been hauled out. I know this does't directly translate to hiking trails, but it is an example of a forest service program that fulfills the desires of both the agency and the users. Surely a similar method of enforcement could be applied to hiking.
In the end, if its the difference between hiking and going home I'll fork over the fee (Im not that
(sorry to post so much, so off topic, but hey you were askin' for it