It's time for Wilderness quotas

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chumley
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It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by chumley » Jan 19 2017 12:01 pm

1. This is my opinion and mine alone. I am unaware of any rumblings to actually implement this.
2. I'm a big boy. Feel free to vehemently disagree with me. Personal insults are fine. I can handle them. :sweat:
3. Not everybody likes the forum. I'd love to discuss this in person too. Send me a PM. We can chat about it during a hike sometime too.

Proposal
Implement a permit system with quotas for the most popular wilderness areas in Arizona (managed by the USFS). I propose these to include the following wildernesses:
• Superstition Wilderness
• Pusch Ridge Wilderness
• Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness
• Kachina Peaks Wilderness

Background
It's the LAW!

The Wilderness Act of 1964 set out to protect and preserve federal lands in a way that no other environmental law had done before. It passed through congress with overwhelming bipartisan approval (374-1 in the House and 73-12 in the Senate). *Emphasis in the quotes below is mine.
In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas ... a National Wilderness Preservation System to be composed of federally owned areas designated by Congress as "wilderness areas" ... shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use as wilderness, and so as to provide for the protection of these areas, the preservation of their wilderness character... [§2.(a)]
A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain ... retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation... [§2.(c)]
Precedent
While no Wilderness areas managed by the US Forest Service in Arizona have done so, popular Wilderness areas in other states have established permit systems and/or quotas including (CA) Ansel Adams Wilderness, Golden Trout Wilderness, Hoover Wilderness, John Muir Wilderness, South Sierra Wilderness, San Gorgonio Wilderness, (CO) Indian Peak Wilderness, (ID) Sawtooth Mountain Wilderness, (MN) Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (maybe others too ... this is tough to search).

Wilderness Areas that are managed by National Parks are regularly under permit and quota systems due to popularity, including in Arizona, with Grand Canyon being the most obvious example. National Park Wildernesses that had not previously been under permit and/or quota systems are reacting to changing user patterns and implementing new policies (including Mt. Rainier and Olympia NPs). Other land management agencies such as the BLM also have permit and quota systems in place such as the Aravaipa Wilderness.

The Other Side of the Argument
The purposes of this Act are hereby declared to be within and supplemental to the purposes for which national forests ... are established and administered and --
Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to be in interference with the purpose for which national forests are established...[§4.(a)(1)]
Except as otherwise provided in this Act, wilderness areas shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use.[§4.(b)]
National Forests were created as the "land of many uses" -- which include grazing, timber, mining, and recreation, among others. While the Wilderness Act prohibits some of these uses, I think there is certainly needs to be a balance with regards to recreation.

My Opinion
I don't think that it is consistent with the Wilderness Act of 1964 for there to exist the number of people regularly present from the trailhead to the top of Humphreys, Flatiron, Fremont Saddle, West Fork of Oak Creek, etc. I don't believe those who wrote the act nor those who voted for it could have ever envisioned the current levels of use being experienced! This kind of use is fine on Camelback, South Mountain, the McDowells, and Picketpost. Those are not federally protected for the specific purpose of maintaining wilderness character. I believe it is important to recognize the difference in land use designation.

I hate permits. I don't like restrictions on public access or use. At all. But I believe sometimes reasonable restrictions are necessary to protect resources from being "loved to death". One benefit of a permit system is education. Even a free permit with no quota requires individuals to learn about the land, why it is a designated wilderness, and what the definition and purpose of wilderness designation is.

This is an issue that will only get worse over time. If we wait too long to act, parts of the wilderness that the law set forth to protect will no longer exist.

Unfortunately, I don't expect to see it happen. Implementation and management is too costly. The San Juan National Forest in Colorado had a plan to implement a permit and quota system for a popular portion of the Weminuche Wilderness two years ago and it had to abandon the plan because the funds were not available to properly manage it. The same is likely true elsewhere.

The result, sadly, will be the loss of wilderness that was once wild.

Sources of information:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilderness_Act
http://www.wilderness.net/NWPS/WhatIsWilderness

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SuperstitionGuy
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by SuperstitionGuy » Jan 20 2017 8:36 am

A Tonto National Forest Recreational Pass system for the Superstition Wilderness Trailheads. Pay the price or be ticketed. Revenue will then be generated to maintain the trails, roads and trail heads. A one day, multi-day, yearly and volunteer pass system at all trail heads.
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Jim_H
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by Jim_H » Jan 20 2017 9:33 am

I do not think we need a permit system. The National forest of Arizona have other more pressing management needs. Road closures and enforcement of such, removal of grazing from some areas, and an even more liberal fire policy, to start with.
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JasonCleghorn
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by JasonCleghorn » Jan 20 2017 11:08 am

friendofThundergod wrote:@chumley Yes I realize those areas are just within the boundary. The point is one should not allow two busy trailheads at two of the most popular areas in a wilderness area to ruin their inpression of a 150,000 acre wilderness area, nor should the gov. make some knee jerk reaction to implement premits across an entire wilderness area based on a couple of busy spots that don't fit some bored guy at works to the letter interpretation of a 50 plus year old act...
I think you're being a little bit harsh, to be honest.
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chumley
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by chumley » Jan 20 2017 2:00 pm

Many of the replies here seem to be based on personal experience generally falling into some variation of either "it bothers me" or "it doesn't affect me".

But, I don't think most replies have considered the point in my initial post, which is that it's the law.

How it affects me or you isn't really the issue. The law doesn't specify how the managing agencies should abide by the law. I proposed a permit/quota system because it has been implemented successfully in other wildernesses.

It's not relevant to equate general forest management to abiding by the Wilderness Act. Managing popular recreation areas through fees and permits is something that Tonto and other forests have done, but those efforts support totally different goals and objectives than those for forest lands designated as Wilderness.

Perhaps the most relevant comment was the one by @friendofThundergod calling me out for interpreting the letter of the law from over 50 years ago. There are plenty of laws on the books that aren't enforced as they were written a long time ago. Maybe the Wilderness Act needs to be updated/amended to reflect changes since it was enacted. :-k

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joebartels
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by joebartels » Jan 20 2017 3:50 pm

I replied with my experience why a blanket quota for the entire wilderness is not needed based on the quotes you posted.
In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas ... a National Wilderness Preservation System to be composed of federally owned areas designated by Congress as "wilderness areas" ... shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use as wilderness, and so as to provide for the protection of these areas, the preservation of their wilderness character...
- the increasing population is not in the majority of the wilderness, the law does not require over managing unaffected areas
- I am in the class of American people mentioned above and explained how the quota would impair my enjoyment

A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain ... retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation...
- the entire hike had a crisp wilderness area feel
- it wasn't more trampled than 20 years ago
- I'm sure a paid entity will suggest the rainbow blowfish used to thrive here in the '70s, what they won't tell you is that it is due to the reintroduction of big horn
- there are less structures and man made objects than 20 years ago
- I am a force of nature
- I felt all alone on the hike, it was scary
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chumley
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by chumley » Jan 20 2017 4:14 pm

joebartels wrote:the law does not require over managing unaffected areas
I agree with you 100%.

Do you believe that the law requires management of affected areas?
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joebartels
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by joebartels » Jan 20 2017 4:33 pm

yes
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chumley
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by chumley » Jan 20 2017 4:51 pm

@joebartels

OK, that's some common ground to work from. I guess the challenge is figuring a way to manage what needs management without over-managing what doesn't need it. I'm not sure there's a good/easy answer for that!

I think if there are methods of management implemented on the two trailheads that serve 90% of visitors* the result pushes more visitors to lesser used areas. I don't believe that's a desired outcome (and probably part of why things are the way they are today).

* I'm quoting Carlson via fotg's earlier post ... I'm not sure if those numbers are accurate or not

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friendofThundergod
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by friendofThundergod » Jan 20 2017 6:52 pm

@chumley
To echo Joe a little as well, the Supes still feel like wilderness to me and seem to fit the above description/expectations of a wilderness area pretty well. Yes a couple of trailheads area a little busy, but its people on foot and that beats mechanized machinery, or the encroachment of civilization and development, which I feel was probably some of the more pressing factors behind the designation of wilderness areas. And I don't know if "sacrificial lamb" is the right way to describe it, but yes I have no problem with human traffic to a wilderness area being funneled to certain areas, whether by design or convenience, especially if it means there are rather vast remote stretches of that wilderness area, because 9 out of 10 times that is where I will be anyways. I just naturally tend to not favor the implementation of more permits, regulations, barriers, or costs when it comes to enjoying federally protected land. I have found wilderness in every wilderness area I have visited in Arizona and I think that says something about the act's success....

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Tough_Boots
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by Tough_Boots » Jan 20 2017 7:03 pm

I don't really understand why everyone thinks the Supes are so busy. If you avoid Peralta to Fremont Saddle, Siphon Draw, Garden Valley/Hackberry, and the Wave Cave then there's no problem. If you start making it less convenient to hike those spots then they'll start finding the other places to crowd up.
SuperstitionGuy wrote:Maybe then we just might see someone in a USFS Uniform doing some work on the trails as well.
Why would you want that when its getting done with volunteers and grants? There's been a ton of trail work done in Tonto this season. Barnhardt got worked on in the Mazzies, Terrapin, Bluff Spring, the Dutchman, and I heard the Arizona Backpacking Club is taking on Red Tanks as a project. The ACE (American Conservation Experience) is hitting the Supes pretty hard this season, too.
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LindaAnn
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by LindaAnn » Jan 25 2017 4:10 pm

As I am fundamentally against regulation on just about anything, my opinion would be NO to permits or quotas. Most of the crowds in wilderness areas don't venture in more than two or three miles anyway, so it personally doesn't bother me. And I do like to see people getting outside, I think it's a lot better than people sitting around watching TV or wasting their time on something sedentary. I'm not saying there's not a problem in certain areas, just that I don't want to see more regulation.

That being said, I think there is plenty of room for more education as to what "wilderness" and other types of land designations actually mean. It's easy to forget that not everyone knows, or is as experienced with understanding different regulations as others might be. There is a significant percentage of hikers who don't understand what "wilderness" means. Some people choose to be ignorant, or wouldn't follow the regulations even if they do know, but a lot of people simply don't know. I'm kind of picturing someone who does a lot of urban hiking, then hears that Flatiron is a good one to try, and heads out there with an urban hiking mindset--one example, but probably a common occurence.

There's no one solution to the education problem, especially since a lot of people these days expect to automatically be provided with information, rather than searching for it on their own. Maybe better signage at trailheads at wilderness boundaries? Maybe those who promote hikes or share pictures on social media could explain it more? Maybe even on HAZ, if a hike is in a wilderness area, there's a red or pink banner at the top of the trail description page to grab attention and provide a link to some guidelines? I think in almost any scenario, more education is preferable to limiting access.

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RedRoxx44
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by RedRoxx44 » Jan 25 2017 6:44 pm

Signage that should appear at all Wilderness trail heads.

" Its the WILDERNESS
Get your ear buds out and you might hear something
Get your eyes off your cell phone and you might see something ( and not fall on your face)
If your feet hurt, you get cold or hot, or sweaty or out of sight of your car, that's a good thing
Don't call SAR
Don't step on pointy things and don't pick up squirmy things ( unless you are gummo)
You'll have a great time and Leave your F'n spray paint at home!"

What can I say, I am old and grumpy regarding some of this stuff.

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chumley
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by chumley » Jan 25 2017 7:22 pm

RedRoxx44 wrote:What can I say, I am old and grumpy regarding some of this stuff.
:y: :lol:

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cactuscat
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by cactuscat » Jan 25 2017 8:10 pm

Where is the "dislike" button?

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skatchkins
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by skatchkins » Jan 27 2017 8:32 am

@chumley Stop encouraging me to trespass.
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Jan 27 2017 12:06 pm

JasonCleghorn wrote:The last time I was at Peralta TH, there was a tour bus parked there. Seriously. Filled with foreign tourists and not one of them had a water bottle. The poor Ranger had a look on his face of OMFG what have we done?
It's not wilderness, but that's becoming a huge problem for NPS at Horseshoe Bend. When I worked up there for the summer of 2015, the park officials were trying to figure out a way to enforce tour bus groups to carry water and show up at scheduled times. One of my fellow rangers was on interpretation (not law enforcement, EMT, or search and rescue) duty regularly out there, and was constantly treating people for heat exhaustion and dehydration. Of course, the City of Page and it's Chamber of Commerce got involved as they were worried that restrictions invoked on tour buses would push business out of the area. Not sure what's gone on up there since, but after seeing the problems with crowds and unpreparedness, I'm definitely in favor of putting in restrictions on these places, whether its a front-country location like Horseshoe Bend, or backcountry areas like our most heavily used wilderness areas. It's the status-quo of our country, however, to have business interests stepping in and throwing their weight around for the sake of profits rather than protection of resources and public safety.
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RickVincent
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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by RickVincent » Jan 30 2017 9:59 am

We all hear these PR ad campaigns to "Get Outside", "Get Moving", "Enjoy the Outdoors", "Visit your State Parks". Now, it's like whoa, whoa, whoa......too much.
This is my gym. I have to travel down a bumpy road to get there. There are no treadmillls, no machines, and no personal trainers. I walk..I run..I breathe the fresh air. I can go any time I want, as much as I want and there is no membership fee.

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Re: It's time for Wilderness quotas

Post by KwaiChang » Jan 31 2017 11:21 pm

Implementing the same ideas/concepts as the Red Rock pass in Sedona area would eliminate many of these issues no? Have to say - many of the responses have been EXCELLENT reading - I enjoy coming here and reading even tho I do not post to MUCH of what I read.

MANY years back - I hiked Red Rocks in Sedona for the first time - actually my real first time hiking in AZ - a lady kinda squawked at myself and my buddy - SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!! for the helicopter to rescue you from Bell Rock peak....sheesh that stuck with us - we still did the crest peak and wondered what she was babbling about and to this day we laugh about it but yeah I can can see a number of folks needing to get lifted from there...at SEVEN THOUSAND dollars!!!!

Pretty funny stuff.......let peeps hike - charge a Yearly fee for a nominal amount to go to trail heads and b done with it no?
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