portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts oregon & cascadia

corporate dominance | economic justice | environment

Privatizing Scammers Steal Cougar Hot Springs

For years, volunteers kept Cougar Hot Springs safe and clean. Now the privatizing scammers are taking over YOUR hot springs. The fees: $5 per car PLUS $5 per person. Even the national parks don't charge that much. And all going to Hoodoo, a company that has already taken over public campgrounds

We need an organized effort to stop this insanity! What would be most effective, a boycott or organized protests of non paying users? (If we can get past the fee-collecting guards, that is.)

Letter writing to Oregon's State Legislators, US. Representatives, US
Senators and to Oregon's newspapers would definitely seem to be in order at
this time.

Scott Silver at Wild Wilderness has more info:
phone: 541-385-5261
e-mail:  ssilver@wildwilderness.org
Internet:  http://www.wildwilderness.org
From:  ssilver@wildwilderness.org
Subject: RAT used to privatize hot springs
Date: April 8, 2005 4:21:37 PM PDT
To:  ssilver@wildwilderness.org

The USFS has gone and done it. They have used the RAT to privatize
Terwilliger Hot Springs (sometimes called 'Cougar Hot Springs') near
Eugene Oregon, see appended article for details.

If there is anyone who reads the following and concludes that this is other
than privatization, please let me know. Please explain to me what about
these popular Hot Springs still remains public?

Is this what YOU understand to be the meaning of PUBLIC lands???

Unless we (we the public) actively work to contain the privatization
epidemic, I'm suggesting that things are going to get a lot worse. The RAT
was just recently authorized. The plague it carries has barely begun to
spread.

The public spaces you love, wherever they may be, are not safe from the RAT.

Scott

PS... Letter writing to Oregon's State Legislators, US. Representatives, US
Senators and to Oregon's newspapers would definitely seem to be in order at
this time.

---- begin forwarded message ----

Quoting from the River Reflections 4/7/05 front page article entitled
"Hoodoo to Manage Terwilliger Springs" -

Starting just before Memorial Day Weekend this year, visitors to Terwilliger
Hot Springs will have to pay a $5 per person fee. The Northwest Forest
Pass will no longer be accepted there and management of the area has been
transferred to Hoodoo Recreation Services, which manages over 70 US Forest
Service campgrounds in the mid-Cascade area.

The move is the latest in a series of changes instituted in the 1990s to
make the springs safer and healthier. Initially a local Friends group
managed the area on a volunteer basis. With fees generated by the Northwest
Forest Pass, uniformed patrols helped overcome incidents of drunkenness,
drug use and assaults. The Forest Service also added several improvements
including better parking area and improved vault toilets but the site never
generated enough income to cover expenses.

Visitors will now have to pay $5 to park a car there and another $5 per
person to enter the hot springs area. Fees can be paid to an attendant or
placed in an "iron ranger" if an attendant isn't on duty. People who don't
pay the fee will be subject to $50 per person citation plus another $50
vehicle citation.

People who use the springs often can buy an annual pass good through
Memorial Day Weekend of 2006. The price of the pass is $50. It is
available from the Terwilliger attendant, at Hoodoo's Camp Store at the ski
area, the Patio RV Park, from Hoodoo camp hosts, and from Umbrella
Properties in Coburg.

Clothes are optional in the springs, although nudity is not encouraged when
others are already present. Drinking of alcohol or any beverage in glass
containers is not allowed.

There are five pools that range from very hot to just moderately warm. They
empty into a lagoon below that is often a favorite swimming hole in the
summer when the reservoir is full.



^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Scott Silver
Wild Wilderness
248 NW Wilmington Ave.
Bend, OR 97701

phone: 541-385-5261
e-mail:  ssilver@wildwilderness.org
Internet:  http://www.wildwilderness.org

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Even more fees? 08.Apr.2005 20:52

ULP

So now it is 5 bucks to park AND 5 bucks to soak?

When the fee system was originally instituted at Twillinger there were some real problems with persons staying in the area for extended periods. When useage of an area is in high demand people need to share the space and give others a chance to enjoy.

But this is too much and it sucks that a private corporation can profiteer off our public lands. The US Forest Service charging money is bad enough.

"RAT"? 09.Apr.2005 11:41

reader

what's that stand for, please? thanks.

Recreation Access Tax (RAT) 09.Apr.2005 12:15

is another

insideous program to privatize and corporatize all national assets in order to pay off the trillion dollar debt incurred by George Bush and his mob of Zionist fanatics. They plan to leverage everything they can - your house, your car, your bank accounts, your children, your future - in order to pay the cost of imposing their illuminist lunacy on the entire world.

For more information about RAT see

 http://www.wildwilderness.org/

Eugene - don't give up! Re-take Cougar Hot Springs from the Capitalists! 09.Apr.2005 13:24

kikasmofo

Having lived in Eugene and visited the hot springs many a time, I am very dissapointed to be finding this out only after it has occured. Especially because Eugene has always considered itself as a mecca for leftist thought and action.

It was only after coming to Portland that I realized that Eugene's reputation for progressive ideals did not match its actions(Except for the Anarchists community). The energy in inner-Portland, per capita, is easily 4 times what it was down in the "Emerald City." For example, just as the Congress was debating if it should give the Bush Administrations authourity to invade Iraq, Eugene had its yearly festival - the "Eugene Celebration." Which brought out massive numbers of people, not to organize and stop the impending killing of 10's of thousands, but to watch parades, see music eat bountifully. Other than a pair of Socialist Party activists, there was no anti-war organizing going on at all during this incredible opportunity to educate and activate one "liberal and progressive" people to save the lives of another people.

Not only has Eugenes "apathy" lost its Hot Springs to the profit motive, but it has also lost its trees to developers for the same reason. Just after I left, 30 of the oldest trees were in town were cut down to make way for a multi-level parking garage. And although 15 or 20 dedicated activists did risk themselves by doing direct action, the rest of the city was silent watched it happen. It seems as though the "Emerald City" - as a collective - did not want to break a sweat and help protect the trees from the cars.

On the positive side, it has to be said that Eugene has voted out that hideous mayor; pro-development Torry. And of course there is the Environmental Law conference, which is great. And you guys will always be the home of "Pre." But still, the average Eugene citizen still lacks the punch and energy of its neighbors to the North in "little Beruit."

I hope that Eugene gets their collective act together and mobilizes to liberate Cougar Hot Springs from the enclosure and return it to the commons. I hope that they begin to be active.

Fee 09.Apr.2005 16:06

Catfancy foxroswell512001@yahoo.com

A $5.00 per car fee is a great idea to mitigate the impact that people have on a popular recreational area. Unfortunately, taxes do not go far enough to provide adequate funding for parks and recreational opportunites in the state. Furthermore, too many people using the recreational area can adversely affect it---look at what happened to some of our major National Parks back in the sixties and seventies.

Volunteers are great and they should be used as often as possible, but we can't take our parks for granted. Fees are a necessary "evil" to provide for maintenance and the continued enjoyment of an area. If you go to any of the national parks, you pay a fee. A donation or a fee is required on some cross country ski-trails, and of course, one must purchase a Sno-Park pass to use a parking lot in the Mt. Hood area. Am I upset by this? No.

The only concern I have about a private company operating the park is that it will use the fees unwisely to bolster conveniences for park users (like too much parking, convenience stores, etc. )instead of maintaining the integrity of the area.

YES--the push to privatize our public lands is AWFUL and must be STOPPED!!! 09.Apr.2005 16:41

Snazmo

I could not DISAGREE more with the posting by "Cat Fancy" (directly above this posting). We live in such a dark age, and this is yet another egregious nightmare on the horizon: the Bush administration wants to have all public lands managed by private for profit corporations! What an effin' disaster! I can still remember many, many years ago in the 70's when you could go to most major National Parks or Public Forest lands for FREE. This was a given. Sadly, over the decades since every place that used to cost just a pittence--or usually nothing--is now charging you $5-$50! (depending on what type of pass you are getting). This is really, really wrong and must be STOPPED dead in it's tracks!

Anybody who thinks having YOUR public lands managed by a private for profit company is a complete idiot. Period.

The truth of the matter is that there is plenty of government moneys to maintain and upkeep our public lands WITHOUT CHARGING FEES. Remember that your taxes have ALREADY paid for maintaining these lands. What has happened gradually over the past 20 or so years is a re-allocation of park money to defense spending, and other special interests. They are trying to double charge you and me, and that is NOT COOL!!! More to the point, the big problem is in Washington DC (as always) with special interest lobbies and corporate lobbyists who really put on the pressure to re-allocate funds that were once earmarked for parks to ever more obscene defense spending pork barrell legislation. That is to say, the money that used to be allocated to parks and recreation is NOW going to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and other large defense corporations to crank out more WMDs. In this dark age of Bush, we are witnessing the supreme screw-over of our public park system: it's a sick, corporate scheme: controll key positions in government, keep slashing funding to public parks, claim no money for park maintenance, then sell off or privatize all the public lands!

Everybody: write your representatives and clearly state that you DONT WANT your cherished public spaces sold off and/or privatized!!! Like the old Joni Mitchell song says, "you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone."

a concerning trend 11.Apr.2005 21:12

wildernesscamper

It seems that there are a few basic questions coming up in this discussion:

(1) Where should the funds for upkeep and maintenance of basic park services come from? Does this come from the general budget, user fees, or donations? Where do they currently come from, and where have they historically come from?

(2) Who should oversee the site, and make sure it's safe, clean and that the bad guys don't ruin it for the rest? Should it be the state, a non-profit, or should the actual service be provisioned by the government, but provided by a private entity. What is the history of the site, what are the usage patterns over time?

Of course, there are other issues, such as conservation. Is there an ideal level of use? How many people can a site handle? Would a reduction be good for the ecosystem? This seems to be an especially big issue for some of the more popular and easy-to-access sites. It does appear that in most cases where there is any degree of choice, increasing the cost of a resource does tend to reduce demand. So while there might be other ways of achieving a reduction in demand, a fee is one way to do it while also bringing in revenue. Obviously, this is not ideal in all cases, but for a popular site that might be getting overused, a tax might be one way to potentially increase quality while and reducing overcrowding. Not sure if this is the case here or not.

So with (1), it seems that many who are opposed to a car and/or head tax, would prefer that maintenance be paid for using the general federal budget. That's understandable, and it would be great to see a renewed commitment to that by the republican bloc in power, but I'm not holding my breath.

So what is the best way to increase general budget expenditure on parks so usage fees are not necessary? Using aggression to confront the front-line person at a site who is just trying to do her/his job (and probably earning low wages) is not going to solve this issue, but it does seem like a sure way of creating a more hostile environment for everyone. Any other ideas? What do groups such as the Sierra Club, or the other credible environmental groups have to say about this? Who has the ear of representatives? Who can yell and scream and make a big deal about this where it will be most effective? How can we make this an issue that the average american cares about? Is the center a desirable group to work towards co-opting?

With (2), it seems that this is another excellent question. Would a non-profit organization charged with managing a site be preferable? Would the iron fist of the state? It doesn't seem that this issue is really about selling off public land, but more about who should be in charge of managing the day-to-day operations of a public site? If it's a for-profit entity, what is the nature of the arrangement? The details of this arrangement are important to understand. If it was sufficiently strict, it seems at least possible that a for-profit entity might be able to efficiently provision the necessary services for a low cost. But maybe a non-profit would do a better job where it counts. Or the state? Are there examples of a non-profit managing the provisioning of such services? That would be awesome to learn about.

Above all, it seems important that we show some kindness and respect for all actors in this situation, or we'll just end up making a bigger mess. If we decide people are monsters, they will behave like monsters. Being reactionary is not to our benefit. Well thought-out and informed action is key.

Thoughts? Ideas?

Hoodoo's article 13.Apr.2005 21:47

natural soaker

Hoodoo's article (which is what was written as if by an independent journalist--you can view on their website), is insidious in that they first refer to "alternate" culture as being individuals who enjoy soaking in their natural, unclothed condition. Well, most folks who come to Cougar to soak enjoy doing so naturally. But then they add some language that makes it worse -- they say that nudity is discouraged if people are already present at the springs. This is really disconcerting. First of all, who is doing the discouraging? I don't recall that condition ever being brought forth before by any users, the FS, or the Friends of Cougar HS. Now we can imagine uptight Hoodoo reps coming over not only to ticket anyone who hasn't paid them the $5 plus $5 fees but also harassing and possibly having fined and arrested anyone who is naked because someone else is present!

No private concessionaire should be profiting off our hot springs, plain and simple. Even more, they should have zero say whether anyone is naked or not at the springs. (By the way, you can see them harassing, banning, and having arrested anyone enjoying a little weed as well.)

http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/willamette/recreation/cougar/index.html 18.Jun.2005 13:39

http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/willamette/recreation/cougar/index.h


Concern for saftey as well as our wallets. 30.Jul.2005 13:14

Life long Area Naturist laemorae@yahoo.com

I hear and understand what every one is saying.

But haveing lived here since like the dawn of time, And my family before me, since pree dawn, I must say Couger has gone threw some scary times where I was afraid to go. Something had to be done to clean it up, and protect everyones saftey. I feel the area and all of "our" natrul areas should be perserved for everyones enjoyment. Our first concern should be keeping it clean, prestine, and saveing the ecoligy of the area. This was not the case for years. There was a huge decline! I don't know if the way it's being managed now is the best way, but what are YOU willing to do about it? We should all be A LOT less concerned about our wallets and a lot more concerned that this is a natrual wonder that we are enjoying and that it is our responsibility as a "higher" life form to protect it for the future as well as just greedily demanding our right to use it. Sounds alot to me like a sertin presidents demand for "our" right to use the rest of the world for our little whims with out any intent of doing what we need to do to give back to the world we take from. Whats the next step guy's? bombing the hot springs? If we can't use it for free, no one can use it at all? And have any of you ever volunteird at couger? When you go do you pick up any garbage you see? Do you carlessly urinate in the water and where ever you like? We aren't the only creatures of concern here. Think a little about the animals and plants that are indiginous to the cougar area. What is our impact on them? People who do have to pay are more likely to follow other rules. Sad but true. For all the years it was free, did people really respect the area? NO! The true issue everyone, is not really about us! It's truely sad we live in such a self centerd society that all every one cares about is our wallets! If you really want to make a change start caring about the natural world around you, then get off your butt and do something about it! Like maybe opening those chained wallets of yours and giving to the NRDC, or Siera club, or the National Wildlife Fund. I mean you have to pay to get into Yellow Stone, but think what it would be like there if no one had to. We have to follow rules! Cause if we don't then no one else has to either. Hell why don't we just all load our shootguns and sit in the springs shooting every cridder we see. Yee Haa.

As far as the last persons comint, if your doing "illegal" things, you must expect to be risking some repercusions. My sugestion is to buy a hot tub and smoke in your own property, where YOU have say. Maybe you should consentraite on legalizing your past time. Not your right to do Ilegal things where ever you want.

Information for others 30.Jul.2005 14:04

life long area naturist laemorae@yahoo.com

Is it any wonder they charge.
Here is a site that mentions Cougars darker past, and when it was a scary place to avoid. Boy should we be truely thankful for it's current "saftey" no matter the cost to our wallets!
www.idahohotsprings.com/ destinations/cougar/
Expert from articel"We chatted it up with some of the more talky soakers but were also able to enjoy a few nice quiet moments. I found out that the couple has been coming to the springs since childhood, when they lived in Eugene. He spoke of a story in which a father was slain in the pool here on his birthday by a crazy man with a shotgun, which resulted in nighttime closure. He also said that the hippies and loggers have shared many a skirmish on these grounds. I was a bit sad to hear about all of the violent stories surrounding this hot springs. It made me think about how the Native Americans valued hot springs as sacred grounds, and would not fight on premises regardless of who was at war." (I remember this incident very well!!! It is a true story and you can look it up online if you doubt it.)

This is a great site, and I truely encourage you to read some of it's postings regarding Couger. Even though It isn't real recent, and the fees have gone up and changed since these postings.
www.cheef.com/ mooncrow/or-coug.htm
Some experts from this site.
"Both my friend and I were very much upset by the trash that we found strewn about the springs. Aluminum soda cans floating in the water, plastic, cigarette butts. There had been a lot going on the night before that we did not see. After 30 minutes of cleaning things up we were able to hop in."
"Because of sex crimes here we have had to charge fees."
"Be careful there! go with a friend, and women be careful - these are sad things to be saying - no natural place should require you to shell out cash, to carry a pass, to watch out for predators... "
"I was fed up with this BS harassment & left the springs. We had a long conversation with the Rangers back at the parking area. They said the fees were to compensate for the loss of federal funds to maintain the trail & springs, to combat drug & alcohol use, drunk driving, other crimes & rowdy locals at & within a couple of miles of the springs. I complained that they don't follow their own regulations re the hours of the booth (supposedly from 9 to 2), they should simply sell the passes at the parking area by a Ranger or a drop box & that if locals are causing most of the problems, they should be arrested & given increasingly stiffer sentences. They didn't cite us & we split, two very unhappy campers. My friend swore to never go back to Oregon again, which is probably what these putzes want in the first place. "
" There has been many times that I have been there early in the morning and picked up trash for 1/2 an hour before I could enjoy my soak. Please, if you pack it in, take it with you when you leave. Others would like to see the place remain open and clean. "

This Land is My Land & Your Land 30.Jul.2005 18:10

This Land was made for you and me

There is more than sufficient federal tax dollars to co-operate with willing and capable volunteers.

It's simply a matter :

the People cooperating with the forest srvice

and the Forest Service cooperating with the people

and making committed volunteer projects in a very trusting relationship.

Almost all the entire landscaping architecture, the coat racks, garbage pales, tub & pool maintenance, has been entirely volunteer motivated for DECades until NOW!

the same issues go on at Bagby up on the Mt. Hood N.F. where they had to can the so called "Friends of Bagby"

I don't know who to point fingers at more, the riff-raff hedonistic drug addiction, their litter, and their alcoholism that goes on there .. .

or the sell-outs bureaucratic dorks and technocrats behind desks in the forest service passing the buck to Hoodoo and other opportunists cashing in

. . . .

but I don't think its worth it to pay $5 to a private company

on land that is entirely owned by the public . . .

there is little or no legal right for them to charge you that . . .

Its all about scare tactics that give them the empowerement to do so '

along with people following along like sheep . . .

Please don't make it worth it to them to profit off you.

Show them you are a committed volunteer and a service to the springs without wasting another $5 to private entrepeneurs.

There is more than plenty in federal income tax money there that can be allocated to promoting better volunteers, better communication, and better trust between public and public employees.

Please don't buy into the fear that the Forest Circus must hire private babysitters sitting by the trailhead . . . .

That's a bunch of childish scare tactics.

Demand Accountability for Recreation 31.Jul.2005 19:11

Demand Accountability for Recreation

As a general principle to any trusting relationship in a recreational setting,

some kind of accountabilty for the lovers of that facility must be available to the public . . .

If the people want some private company to come in and manage and facilitate Cougar and charge for public lands,

than it only figures that the citizens must DEMAND TOTAL ACCOUNTABILITY available at the trail head:

Do you trust some pudgy chubby faced man and his grubby pudgy hands with your $5 in an envelope with all your personal information about your vehicle to make sure and certain every penny goes to the complete glory and maintenance of everything there and all who need a good healing soak accessible?

HELL NO!!!!!!!!

Volunteers need to boycott, circumvent the designated trail, clean-up their own trash, do the real work, and show the futility of the insanity of trying to put a price value on this priceless warm healing spring of God's creation once and for all.

This is public land

not a sellout private enterprise

It's completely unconstitutional, illegal, and immoral for the government to keep putting dollar values on things that don't need the paper money to be legitimate . . .

enough is enough . . .

RAT 27.Sep.2005 20:36

soaker

Every spring i chill at is littered. George Bush didnt throw bottles and cigs all over, What does he have to do with anything? The revenue generated from terwilliger is going into the hands of some leftist queer, eventually he will buy a plaid and thats where your $ went. Terwilliger should not be free, it used to be free in the 70's and you fucking liberals damn near ruined it. Peace gawd

practical suggestion 26.Dec.2005 14:16

ex-patriot

Without delving into the hotbed issues here, I have a suggestion from my Canadian wife, based on the habits of citizens near Tofino, BC. If the yearly pass is not specific to one person or vehicle, why not buy a pass with a large group of people to share year round whenever someone wants to go? Make it easy to pick up. This could be more widespread -- a group of Cougar lovers who offer to share use of a handful of passes -- lowering the per use per person cost dramatically AND taking a few dollars out of the hands of the private corporation you despise. I agree with some of the other posters on here who suggest that directing anger and negativity towards the christian and consumer/corporate zealots will only bring about more trouble. Hmm, how do we save America from itself? Good luck! Clueless determination is how the country has operated for most of its existence. Stay local, believe in the power of people on an individual level, not in systems and that the earth itself will have the final say.