Northwest NEWS

August 9, 1999

Editorial

National Day of Action

   In 1997, Congress implemented a new program that was supposed to demonstrate the public's willingness to pay-to-play. The program, User Fee Demonstration, was implemented in National Parks, USFS, and BLM Lands, and was supposed to eliminate the huge backlog of maintenance these agencies claimed to have.

   Note the key word "demonstration." When you enter many national parks and/or national forests, you must pay a User Fee (for each agency and/or district) or risk a $100 citation for each incident of non-compliance.

   Clearly this is not a demonstration program, as you are forced to pay the user fees. Yet NPS, USFS, and BLM all state that the public is in favor or user fees. Why? Because when you pay a user fee (even under protest), you are counted as favoring user fees. Paradoxically, the GAO report (GAO/RECED-99-7) to Congress states that 67% of those interviewed think user fees are a bad deal.

   On numerous occasions at Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest, I witnessed low-income families denied access because they couldn't afford the user fees. To deny these folks access to their public lands is truly an un-American act.

   If you feel user fees are a bad deal, please join us for a "National Day of Action" on August 14th, when thousands will protest the user fee demonstration program.

   For full details, visit the Internet site www.wildwilderness.org and click on "National Day of Action." You can also contact Wild Wilderness (the organizers of the event) at (541) 385-5261.

John Legg, Port Angeles, WA