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corporate dominance | forest defense

Forest Service Plans to Close Thousands of Recreation Sites!

In planning to impose a for-profit model on the National Parks, the Forest Service may close 3-4,000 recreation sites that don't "pay" their own way. Many would be turned over to private concessionaires. Most at threat are minimally-developed sites that provide benefit to local residents and other low-expense users.
From: "Scott Silver" < ssilver@wildwilderness.org>
Date: August 30, 2006 12:44:09 PM PDT
To: "Scott Silver" < ssilver@wildwilderness.org>
Subject: WSN-FC EXPOSES RS-FMP

Massive numbers of potential recreation site closures loom, according to the
following news release issued today by Western Slope No-Fee Coalition.

They've prepared an important investigative report which ends with a call to
action. I encourage everyone to read on, and follow up. The impacts of
RS-FMP are likely to be enormous.

Additional information is available on the Wild Wilderness website at:
www.wildwilderness.org/news/land-management/rs-fmp-means-big-changes-are-coming.html

Scott

--- begin quoted---

WESTERN SLOPE NO-FEE COALITION
P.O. Box 135, Durango, CO 81302
www.westernslopenofee.org

More information:
Robert Funkhouser 802/235-2299  rfunk9999@earthlink.net
Kitty Benzar 970/259-4616  wsnfc@earthlink.net

August 30, 2006
For Immediate Release

REPORT CHARGES FOREST SERVICE WITH PLANNING TO CLOSE THOUSANDS OF RECREATION
SITES
Policy Adopted In Secret Requires Developed Sites To Pay Their Own Way Or
Close

The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition today released a six-page research report
on a secret Forest Service Policy that could result in thousands of
recreation site closures nationwide. The report charges that since at least
2002, the USDA-Forest Service has been secretly implementing a policy
initiative called Recreation Site Facility Master Planning, or RSFMP, that
threatens to impose a for-profit model on the management of America's
National Forests.

RSFMP mandates that every National Forest inventory all its developed
recreation sites and rank them compared to a National Required Standard.
Those that do not measure up will be closed or "decommissioned"
(obliterated). The closures would affect mainly simple, remote facilities
favored by local residents, hunters, fishermen, and others who prefer
dispersed and minimally developed recreation sites. Forest Service visitor
statistics indicate that such visitors make up almost two-thirds of all
Forest users. On the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests
in western Colorado, up to 100 of 138 sites are slated for closure. That's
72% of all recreation sites!

No public or congressional review of the RSFMP policy has yet occurred.
Although 22 Forests have completed 5-Year RSFMP site closure plans and
implementation has begun, none of the plans have been publicly released. As
part of their research, the No-Fee Coalition was able to obtain two complete
plans and partial information about three more. From the data available so
far they project that between 3,000 and 5,000 recreation sites will be
closed or decommissioned, and as many as 4,000 more will be converted to fee
sites or turned over to private for-profit concessionaires to manage.

"The RSFMP program is going to send shockwaves through National Forest
gateway communities nationwide," said WSNFC President Robert Funkhouser.
"This will impact local communities' economies, public health, and quality
of life." Funkhouser points out that among the management actions planned
or already underway are removal of toilets, capping of drinking water
systems, and bulldozing of campsites.

The Report questions Forest Service claims that plummeting recreation
budgets are the impetus and justification for RSFMP. It shows that much of
the funding appropriated for recreation by Congress never makes it to the
local Forest managers. Instead, the Report charges that it is policy
decisions, not budgets, which are driving the site closures.

"A serious reality gap exists between what the Forest Service is claiming is
available to the Forests in the way of appropriated funds from Congress for
developed recreation and what Congress is actually appropriating," said
Funkhouser. "As implementation of the RSFMP unfolds, it is becoming
increasingly clear that it is intended to be the vehicle for reducing or
eliminating undeveloped and dispersed recreation, the very kind of
recreation favored by almost two-thirds of visitors. Forest Service Chief
Dale Bosworth has identified this type of use as a threat. Those less
developed, more remote, and dispersed sites and areas are the ones that are
unprofitable and subject to closure."

In the report's Conclusion, the No-Fee Coalition calls on Forest users to
demand that the RSFMP 5-Year Plans be subjected to public comment and review
as specified in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They also call
for Congress to scrutinize the program, and for an audit of Forest Service
recreation spending compared to appropriated funds.

"It is imperative that this secret policy see the light of day," concluded
Funkhouser. "This is a drastic change to National Forest recreation
management that should not be allowed to proceed behind closed doors."

The Recreation Site Facility Master Planning report (pdf) can be read at
www.westernslopenofee.org

The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition is a national organization based in
Durango, Colorado that has called for repeal of the Federal Lands Recreation
Enhancement Act (FLREA). The FLREA allows the Forest Service, BLM, and
Bureau of Reclamation to charge access and user fees on vast tracts of
publicly-owned land.