PDA

View Full Version : FEWER visitors to USFS lands?!?


Red_Chili
12-04-2008, 10:20 AM
From the ARRA. Needs little comment. I suppose the granola crowd is happy about it. I'm mixed; increasing use means increasing impact, and crowding - but on the other hand, the reasons for reduced usage may reduce MY usage too!!

Fewer Visitors to our National Forests

A recent study by the U. S. Forest Service shows that fewer Americans are using their National Forests as a venue for recreation. Forest Service officials seem to be surprised by this news and uncertain as to why this is the case. The statistics are startling. In 2004, total forest visits were 204.8 million. In 2007, that number dropped to 178.6 million visits, a 13% decline.


Obviously, there are a number of factors contributing to the problem. Part of the decline may stem from our change of lifestyle including the amount of time we all spend in front of a computer or television screen. It's just a fact of life that people spend less time outside.


Some years ago, the National Park Service was alarmed by the drop-off in visitors to the National Parks under its jurisdiction. We wrote about this phenomenon back in May, 2006. During the course of a Congressional oversight hearing on the subject, one of the reasons cited for the decline was that the National Park Service had developed a reputation of being unfriendly towards park visitors. It's a simple thing, if the welcome sign isn't out, people won't come.


The Forest Service faces a similar dilemma. Policymakers are busy designating millions of acres of our National Forests as wilderness areas making access to those areas more difficult. Then, several years ago, the Forest Service decided to go to a designated trail system for OHV recreation when it promulgated the Travel Management Rule. We supported that rule because we felt that a designated trail system made sense. We also said at the time that the implementation process associated with the design of a trail system was critical in making the policy a success. Gaining public input on where those trails should be would ensure that people would want to continue to visit our National Forests for recreational activities.


We were concerned at the time that the local forest districts lacked adequate funding for the implementation phase of the rule. Forest supervisors were told to find the money by re-programming funds from other programs. Some found the money and others didn't, but all operated under the same strict timetable for completing the designation process - which is slated for December, 2009. Time will tell whether OHV enthusiasts are turned off or turned on by what they find as designated trail system for OHV recreation. If they are turned off, visitation to our National Forests will decline further. Let's hope this is not the case.

DaveInDenver
12-04-2008, 10:23 AM
People hear about all the threatened closures and see user fees, so they find other places to spend their time and money. If it's not a canned, packaged and prepared vacation, more and more people don't bother. Kinda sad.

Red_Chili
12-04-2008, 10:42 AM
Hunting is getting to be the same way.

Every year there are fewer hunters (although you would not know it if you hunted elk second season around the flattops... orange EVERYwhere). That means tags are easier to get, less crowding, what's not to like, right?

Well... fewer fees to preserve habitat and pay wardens, patrol for poachers, promote hunting. And more and more people who vote, who have no clue about hunting, and see us as bloodthirsty gun loving ignorant rednecks, and vote in accordance with that (the cessation of trapping and bear hunting being a couple of examples of what happens).

I resent the ignorant part. :lmao:

But seriously, the same thing is happening with our sport. The population is shifting urban and metrosexual, with no wild sensibilities or outdoorsmanship (male or female).

DaveInDenver
12-04-2008, 10:46 AM
Yup. The side who wants to limit access and restrict usage is getting what they want as much through sedating the masses into complacency as anything. But it's like heavily taxing smoking, you elicit the behavior you want (or presumably so, since the desired outcome probably would have happened either way) but at the expense of a reducing stream of funding. So it's a lose-lose overall. Shrug, we have to continue to keep on keeping on.

Red_Chili
12-04-2008, 10:57 AM
Well, we can...
Keep introducing people to responsible trail usage. And responsible hunting. And the joys thereof.

Resist the temptation to 'keep it to yourself'.

MDH33
12-04-2008, 12:43 PM
The associated press article has a slightly different spin:

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- Visits to America's 155 national forests are down 13 percent, and it's not clear why.

Visits averaged not quite 179 million a year from 2003 to 2007. That's down from nearly 205 million visits a year during the previous four years.

Top officials at the U.S. Forest Service blame rising gas prices, an increasingly urban and aging population that's less inclined to camp out and even competition from the Internet and video games.

Critics blame the fees that are now charged for hiking trails and visitor centers, plus noisy off-road vehicles and the Forest Service's budget priorities.

A policy analyst who spent a year camping out in 67 national forests says many people told him that "it's harder to find solitude" in them.

One expert is worried that the political constituency for national forests will fade away if the trend continues.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

Red_Chili
12-04-2008, 01:08 PM
Spin indeed. Why, it would require a reality where we have seen a sudden increase in the number of trails opened, encroaching on the last best wild places such that one cannot find solitude.

Oh, that's the line from the other side. Circular reasoning, assuming the cause you want. Too bad it ain't true.
11320

increasingly urban and aging population that's less inclined to camp out and even competition from the Internet and video games.

Critics blame the fees that are now charged for hiking trails and visitor centers, ...the Forest Service's budget priorities...

One expert is worried that the political constituency for national forests will fade away if the trend continues.
That part says the same as above though.

A policy analyst who spent a year camping out in 67 national forests says many people told him that "it's harder to find solitude" in them.

Ah, anecdote. The perfect solution to a story that does not meet one's political goals. How many? And how many told him it was great, or about the same, and would those people be as motivated to 'make a point' to a journalist (or 'policy analyst' spending a year camping... just what is that? Could I be one?), as those who wanted to rid the forests of 'ORVs'?

Where is educated cynicism when you need it, I ask you?!?

:rant:

:lmao:
;)

Does anyone else find every third word uttered by our media to be suspect?

Beater
12-04-2008, 01:09 PM
Mr. Morgan,
I eat granola, in fact, I just had a bowl of Udi's cashew/banana served warm, while wearing my birkenstocks and a trendy metro-sexual argyle sweater.

watch the terms. :) :beer:

Red_Chili
12-04-2008, 01:16 PM
And I eat granola, vanilla yogurt, and fruit every morning for breakfast. My fav is kefir and I prefer flannel. And I am green more often than not. I recycle. Still, the slang conveys the message.

My terms are net 30.

:lmao:

Beater
12-04-2008, 01:25 PM
I honestly see this as a mixed cause issue, and I don't think we will find a single root cause. I think that the fuel costs over the last two years really hit the recreation market hard.

I think a few things happened.

1)some of the camper shell, 5th wheel, and rv people really cut back.
2) ohv people reduced or stayed closer, due to fuel
3) more people who would never go, decided to car camp, and were not pleased with the number of ohv people around the closer/easier systems.

The foot and pedal crowd generally uses facilities that are not fee based, or register based, so that's hard to judge, but I can say that I didn't see a visible drop in trailhead population. I did see an increase in the closer in campgrounds and fishing areas this year though, again, purely visual.

DaveInDenver
12-04-2008, 01:37 PM
The foot and pedal crowd generally uses facilities that are not fee based, or register based, so that's hard to judge, but I can say that I didn't see a visible drop in trailhead population. I did see an increase in the closer in campgrounds and fishing areas this year though, again, purely visual.
This is one point to make. I try to fill in the register when I use a trail, partially so someone can track me down but also to log my usage of the trail and mode. Mostly this is to demonstrate a particular trail is in fact used when the USFS tries to dispute user numbers to justify closure. But I often wonder how many people take the time to do that and if some groups are under represented, like dirtbag cyclists who just blow right past the boxes. But I also agree that it seems easy to get to places rarely want for use.

MDH33
12-04-2008, 02:02 PM
I also question the validity of the numbers regarding usage being down based on my own experience of how busy and sometimes crowded trails and trailheads can be.

But also consider this; maybe numbers are down, and maybe it's because access is being restricted by closures, extraction leases, etc. When there are fewer places to go for "recreating", the few places available become more crowded and less enjoyable.

That's my observation.

Red_Chili
12-05-2008, 10:40 AM
+1

subzali
12-05-2008, 12:20 PM
Remember they were talking nationally though. In Colorado our viewpoint is a little skewed ;)

But I know this: I cut out a LOT of 4-wheeling (at 10-12 mpg) this past year, and even my trips to the mountains were lessened for other things: hiking, mountain biking, etc. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Having said that, there were a couple times I went camping in National Forest this summer and I, too, was disenchanted by the numbers of loud dirtbikes and ATVs cruising up and down the roadway. Didn't look very fun to me (no real trails around), but yes that's what you get when you close down more than 50% of the OHV trails that used to be open back in the day, all while the OHV user count has been going up tremendously in the last 15-20 years (did anybody ever really see a 4 year old on a dirtbike or ATV back in the 70s? I think not (though I wasn't around then myself ;) ) )

SteveH
12-05-2008, 01:08 PM
...and they wonder why newspapers are going broke. 'News' anymore is just reporting these swings - first the forests are being trampled and trashed and national parks are swamped. Then forests are underused and national parks are hurting for cash and visitors. After you read about this year after year, you tend to ignore it. Americans deserve what they get - they claim they want unspoiled forest areas, and then demand a Burger King in the middle of Yellowstone national park. They demand congressional reform and then vote in the same slob senators that have been in office for 30 years...but I digress

The decline in hunters bothers me more than forest visits, as they serve to manage game in a very effective way, and ultimately, taxpayers will have to do it in a far more expensive way (birth control for deer in Illinois, for instance).

Steve

Red_Chili
12-05-2008, 02:09 PM
+1,000

LARGEONE
12-05-2008, 03:23 PM
many people told him that "it's harder to find solitude" in them...

Whoever he was interviewing obviously doesn't own a Land Cruiser or off road vehicle. The Cruiser can almost always find solitude!