New England Public Forest Advocates (NEPFA)


Learn more about the User Fee Demonstration Program from the following outstanding web sites.

www.wildwilderness.org
www.freeourforests.org
www.igc.org/sespewild/

(For links to other pages on this NEPFA web site, please scroll to bottom of this page.)


NEPFA is a grassroots organization based in NH that is opposed to the Forest Service's User Fee Demonstration Program. Our mission is to help overturn the fee demo program through public education and non-destructive methods of activism.

Our group is made up of ordinary individuals, each of us with jobs and busy lives. We believe this is a vital issue, however, and we cannot sit by idly and allow this ill-conceived, misguided, unfair program to be made permanent.


 How can visiting mountains like Welsh-Dickey in the White Mountain National Forest be seen as a "recreation product" and sold back to us, the citizen-owners, for our enjoyment?

 

RECENT FEE-DEMO NEWS (5 items):

 

  1. A successful NEPFA-sponsored fee-protest gathering occurred on June 10, 2001 in the WMNF. Read the excellent article about it by Ruth Bossie of the Littleton Courier at:

http://www.courier-littletonnh.com/protest6_7.html

 

(2) In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the Interior Appropriations bill, with a "rider" calling for a 4-year extension of fee-demo. Rep. Defazio (D-OR) introduced an amendment to curtail this extension, but it was defeated, in spite of his, and others' eloquent anti-fee speeches.

Action now moves to the SENATE, where there are 2 threats currently pending:

  • "stand-alone" legislation sponsored by Sen. Graham (R-FL) to make fee-demo permanent
  • a Senate version of the Interior appropriations bill, which, like the House version, contains a "rider" calling for a 4-year extension of fee-demo

It is going to be CRUCIAL for Senators to hear from us SOON about fee-demo. The Senate is now the "make-or-break" focus for the whole fee program. NEPFA learned from a June trip to Washington, DC, that VT Senators Leahy and Jeffords have received little comment from Vermonters about fee-demo (no doubt because the Green Mountains don't have fees …. YET!).

Events in the Senate are moving fast. Voting on the 2 Senate bills above occurs THIS SUMMER (we will post an announcement of when voting is scheduled, as soon as we hear.)

Please contact your senators by phone or letter soon (handwritten letters, written from the heart, are best). For starters:

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) … 393 Russell Bldg. / Washington, DC 20510 (202-224-3324)

Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH)… 307 Dirksen Bldg. / Washington, DC 20510 (202-224-2841)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) … 433 Russell Bldg. / Washington, DC 20510 (202-224-4242)

Sen James Jeffords (I-VT) … 728 Hart Bldg. / Washington, DC 20510 (202-224-5141)

 

(3) SIGN the national petition at:

http://www.petitiononline.com/feedemo/petition.html

This is EASY to do!

 

(4) The Associated Press reported on Feb. 2, 2001 the appalling news that a respected Forest Service social scientist has been officially forbidden from talking to the media (and continues to be) for his co- authorship of a study that shows outdoor recreation user fees have had a "significant exclusionary impact" on low income people in VT and NH. This is yet another egregious and unscrupulous attempt by the Forest Service's Washington DC headquarters attempt to manipulate public opinion.

Click here to read this AP article about the FS muzzling one of its own researchers..

 

(5) The Forest Service's new Agenda is now published and official. It confirms the fears of those who have been warning about commercialization and privatization of public land and the Forest Service's unhealthy alliance with the powerful American Recreation Coalition lobby.

Click here to read about the Forest Service's disturbing new agenda.


The Recreation Fee Demonstration Program was begun several years ago as a result of collaboration between recreation industry lobbyists, Forest Service officials, and a few legislators espousing an ill-conceived, entirely innappropriate version of what they conceived to be "free-market" ideology. The fee program was slipped through the House and Senate as a "rider" in 1996. The fee program was to be a test from 1997 to 1999. It has now been extended to 2002.

Although this program is called a "test" to assess public support, non-payment of the "test" fee (which would be a person's way of showing they don't support it) is penalized a fine and/or a day in court. The Forest Service tries to use pass compliance data as a measure of the public's acceptance of the fees -- a highly illegitimate measure, to say the least, when participation has been coerced by the threat of heavy fines!

Why are American citizens being charged to walk on public land? Certainly the American people did not rise up and demand to be deprived of this most fundamental of rights. What we are not being told is that federal dollars are purposely being cut from the Forest Service budget to create the need for funding from other sources: your pocket, my pocket and financial relationships with corporations. Why is private industry showing an interest and getting involved in supporting our public lands? Because there are MASSIVE PROFITS to be made! And Forest Service administrators in DC are going along with the plan in hopes of gaining a consistent source of funding, independent of yearly Congressional bugeting whims -- in effect "selling out" the public in order to gain financial independence via fees and profit-sharing from private recreation industries.

The recreation industry is eager to win concession contracts to operate on our public lands and they plan to push hard for other major kinds of development: resorts, marinas, visitors' centers, condominiums, golf courses, etc. Anyone who has visited our National Parks can see the end result of a management philosophy that targets maximizing profits.

In the past, right-wing think-tanks pushed hard for privatizing ownership public lands (selling off our birthright to the highest bidder); this didn't fly with the American people, so now the plan is to privatize access to public lands. The fee program's purpose is to demonstrate to the federal government that outdoor recreation on public lands can be marketed as a "product" we are willing to buy. But all over the nation an immense groundswell of protest is occurring from people who want their public lands left public and open to all citizens regardless of their economic status. Opposition to the user fee program is gaining tremendous momentum because the truth about its origins and future goals are being made known through the efforts of many grassroots organizations.

 

One of the very beautiful spots to be enjoyed in the White Mountain National Forest - Franconia Ridge. At present, visiting Franconia Notch State Park is free. But what will happen when free areas like this begin to feel the crush of visitors unwilling to pay the fees elsewhere? Will the State of NH feel obliged to start charging, simply out of "self- defense?"

Click on these other NEPFA site page links to learn about:

Local news articles
Dealing with "tickets"
Suggested political action
anti-fee editorials
letters to editors and politicians
Scholars comments

Click here to read a concise history of the fee-demo-program and its big-money corporate roots.


QUOTES OF NOTE:

"Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." - ancient Roman saying

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

"Live free or die" - NH state motto

"We The People ... in Order to secure the blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity..." - Preamble to the US Constitution


To contact a NEPFA representative write or call:

NEPFA, PO Box 293, Hanover, NH 03755; (802-649-3021) or

NEPFA, 30 School Street, Tilton, NH 03276; (603-286-8695)