The Current Hysteria Over Proposed Public Land Changes

The Wave is a perfect example of a special area that required both permits and fees to protect it.

The Wave is a perfect example of a special area that requires both permits and fees to protect it.

There is an uproar going around the blog-o-sphere right now about proposed new rules that govern use of Public lands. I’ve had several people write me very concerned that our right to use Public Lands was at risk and we would either be kicked off the land or be charged for every use of it. My answer to them and to you in this post, is it is much ado about nothing. Don’t worry about it, it’s hysteria about nothing! It’s nothing but a FUD campaign, Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

The main leader of the attack on the proposed changes to the existing law is the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, (I’m going to abbreviate them as the WSNFC because I am a lazy typists) and you can find their website here: You can find the proposed changes to the law here: You can find the Western Slopes interpretation of the changes here:

Let me say first off that I don’t have any doubt that the people behind the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition (WSNFC) are good, well-meaning people who are doing what they think is right. Having said that I disagree with them totally and all the changes I saw are good and necessary. I think the difference between us is I worked as a campground host for 4 years and during that time I worked with their Arch-Enemy, the National Forest Service and two Private Concessionaires who operated their campgrounds.

Yes, I am a horrible MONSTER! I collected fees, I enforced the rules to the letter of the law, I even kicked people out of my campground. I also cleaned up the atrocious messes the good “owners” of our Public Lands left behind for me. I cleaned the indescribable filth the proud “owners” of our Public Lands left in our toilets. I could go on and on for days with stories about the horrific things I’ve seen done to our Public lands and its facilities by its noble owners!

The difference between me and the members of the WSNFC is I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that our Public Lands MUST be protected from its owners. Fortunately, 90% of the users of the land are good people who respect the land and treat it well. Unfortunately the other 10%  appear to be doing everything in their power to destroy and devastate our Public lands and so the 90% are going to suffer because of that 10%’ Let me say it very clearly:

Public Lands MUST be Protected From Its “Owners.”

They Must Not be Allowed Total and Free Access to do Whatever They Want.

I’ve carefully read the proposed changes and the WSNFC interpretation of them and they boil down to two main changes:

  1. Allowing new Day Use fees wherever there is a toilet within ½ mile.
  2. Allowing the issuance of Special Recreation Permits in “special areas.”

Plain and simple, I am in favor of both of these changes. Let’s look at them separately and I’ll explain my reasoning.

1) Charging Day Use Fees at Toilets.

Currently there is a mish-mash of rules about whether a toilet facility is charged a Day Use Fee or not. For example, when I was a campground host in the Rockies of Colorado I took care of a Day Use area that had a stocked lake, toilet and parking. We charged a $5 Day Use Fee. That was totally reasonable, I went there twice a day every day and cleaned the toilet and stocked it with toilet paper. The next year I was in the Sierra National Forest of California and I had a Day Use area that was a grove of Giant Sequoia trees. It had a toilet, parking and picnic tables. It had more toilets and heavier use than the one in Colorado and I cleaned it twice a day and they were usually totally filthy both times. There wasn’t a charge for that one, it was free. Why? I spent more time cleaning it and it used more toilet paper. Every year I painted 20% of its picnic tables and both toilets while I was there. Every spring it took 5 of us a whole day to clean up the sand and mud that had flowed over its walkways and all the leaves and needles that had fallen. It’s crazy that there was no charge for all we did! Let me give you another example.

Along with the Sequoia Grove Day Use Area I also had 4 campgrounds. One of my campgrounds was free although I went to it every day and cleaned the toilets and it had all the normal amenities. I asked the Forest Service Officer in charge why it was free and she said it was because it didn’t meet all the requirements for charging.  Again, I cleaned its toilets every day, painted the toilets and picnic tables and spent a LOT of time on it and the company was never paid a penny for my time.  Worse, because the people who used it didn’t pay, and we had no control over them, they tore it up and left a bigger mess than any of my other campgrounds. Every time I went there it pissed me off!

I can already hear what you are thinking, “My taxes pay for those toilets, I shouldn’t have to pay again!”

No they don’t! Not one penny of taxpayer dollars went to cover those costs. Not only doesn’t the Forest Service pay my company anything, just the opposite, part of the contract is that my company has to pay the Forest Service a percentage of all the money it brings in by running the campgrounds and Day Use Areas. All those facilities are paid for totally by the people who use them. What could be more fair? If you use it, you pay. If you don’t use it, you don’t pay! Where did we get the idea that it’s okay to use an expensive facility but not pay a penny for it? Why are we outraged if we are asked to pay for it?

And make no mistake, it is expensive!

  • I made $9.25 an hour, and the companies cost was more than double or triple that.
  • I used a gallon of cleaner every week,
  • 48 rolls of toilet paper every week,
  • 10 rolls of paper towel every week,
  • and because my 4 campgrounds and 1 Day Use area was scattered over 40 miles of the Sierras, the company paid $200 a week for gas.

And yet 40% of that was free, the company got nothing in return. That’s not good business. Would you work 40% of your time for free? The 10-Year contract for that area was up and the company I worked for told the Forest Service that they would not bid on the contract if it included free areas. How weird, they wanted to be paid for the work they did!

How many of you reading this want to be paid for the work you do? I do!! The company paid me to do the work but 2 of the 5 things I took care of they never collected a penny for! Under the proposed new changes in the law, they both would have been fee areas just like they should have been. The changes to this bill just lay it out plain and simple, if there is a toilet within a half mile of the Day Use Area, there will be a day use fee. I totally support that. If I don’t want to pay, I won’t use the toilet or I’ll park a half mile away and walk to the area. It’s my choice. If I use it, I pay. If I don’t use it, I don’t pay. What’s wrong with that?

Imagine thousands of people a day (including kids, dog and teenagers with cans of spray paint) tromping around on these fragile fins. That is a truly horrible idea!

Imagine thousands of people a day (including kids, dogs and teenagers with cans of spray paint) tromping around on these fragile fins. That is a truly horrible idea!

2) Special Recreation Permits

This is the big issue for the WSNFC. They claim that because there is no clear definition of what constitutes a “Special” Area, we are giving them a blank check to call every inch of Public Lands to be a “Special” area and either require a Permit or charge a fee. I am fairly convinced they have totally misunderstood the language and it has nothing to do with the designation of the land itself (at the bottom of the post I have the section of the proposed changes they object to). It is strictly a Permit to an individual or group to use the land. Here is how the BLM currently defines Special Recreation Permits: (emphasis added)

Special Recreation Permits (SRPs) are authorizations which allow specified recreational uses of the public lands and related waters.  They are issued as a means to manage visitor use, protect natural and cultural resources, and provide a mechanism to accommodate commercial recreational uses. 

Authorized by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, there are five types of uses for which these permits are required: commercial, competitive, vending, individual or group use in special areas, and organized group activity and event use.

In other words if you want to hold a motorcycle race on BLM land you need to get a Special Recreation Permit for that activity and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the designation of the land, just your use of it for a commercial venture. Every year Burning Man has to get a Special Recreation Permit because it is a commercial event. The Permit does not change the designation of the land under Burning Man in any way. If you want to run River Raft trips through a National Park, that is a “special area” and you need to get a Special Recreation Permit for that special area. the Permit doesn’t make it a special area, it already was one.

In some way that I can’t understand, the WSNFC has twisted those two words “special areas” and warped it to mean that the BLM and Forest Service can start requiring a Special Recreation Permit for every human in America and for every inch of Public Land. I can’t imagine the logic that allows them to reach that level of hysteria over nothing. It’s so bizarre it makes me question their integrity!

I’m familiar with Special Recreation Permits because the RTR has grown large enough that soon I will be required to get one because of its size. I studied the subject and found that any activity that has more than 75 people requires a Special Recreation Permit. Do you see anything wrong with that? I don’t!

That’s enough people to have a significant impact on Public Land so it’s reasonable they want to control it. I even applied for a Special Recreation Permit for a East Coast RTR but the Permit Officer said that there was a hunting season going on at the same time so the conflict would be too much for the land. I agreed and withdrew the application. If you go camping and have less than 75 people, you don’t need a Special Recreation Permit and the WSNFC hysteria is nonsense!!

However, let’s assume they are right and it allows the BLM and Forest Service to create “Special Areas,” I’m totally in favor of that! To me, there is no doubt that there must be certain areas that are set aside as “Special” because they are! In fact there are many such areas right now and all of them I have been to I agreed totally that they are “Special’ and they must be set aside and protected either by requiring a Permit, a fee, or both. Why?

Without Special Protection we will Love the Special Areas to Death!  

Again, the land must be protected from its current owners, so it will be here for future owners!

This is not something new, we’ve been doing it for a long time now. Let me give you some examples of “Special” areas. The National Parks are the oldest example. They were recognized as very special and we set them aside and wrote special regulation and required fees for their use. Is there anyone who thinks that was a bad idea? Of course not, special areas must be set aside and protected!!

National Monuments are another good example. They aren’t as special as the National Parks, but we can all recognize that that they are special enough to merit special protection. So we designate them as National Monuments and write special rules and charge fees.

There are many other areas we recognize as special such as National Wildlife Refuges, National Recreation Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Seashores and others. There is something about those areas that make them special and require that they be protected from mass use. I have no argument with that!

So far, I don’t think there is any debate, they are special and should be treated special so that they will still be available for the owners who are here in seven generations. But what about small, local areas that don’t quite meet those other ideas of special? I’m thinking especially of the Wave on BLM land in Arizona. It is a very small area but probably the most hauntingly beautiful thing I have ever seen. It is also by far the most fragile place I have ever seen. So the BLM treats it totally differently than any other piece of Public Land. You can only go to it by Permit and only 20 Permits are issued per day and there is a fee for the Permit. I am in total, 100% agreement with that policy! No one could ever go there without seeing how Special it is and that it is so fragile that severe rules must be instituted to protect it. Without them, a 1000 people would go there every day and in a few years it would be destroyed and lost forever. That is a tragedy that must not be allowed to happen.

One last Special Area that I want to bring up are those that are both beautiful and very close to very large population centers. One that comes to mind is the Red Rock Pass that is required in the Special Area around Sedona, Arizona. Because it is so close to metro Phoenix, it is swamped with people and in very great danger of being loved to death.  This is what the Forest Service says about it: (emphasis added)

The Red Rock Pass program is a conservation tool designed to protect, enhance, and maintain Sedona’s awe-inspiring red rock landscape for the American public today and into the future.

The level of care and maintenance required for the Red Rock landscape exceeds that needed in other National Forest areas due to the large amount of visitors and use each year. Revenue from the pass program is making a difference providing improved visitor information, environmental protection and lasting memorable experiences!   

Notice those words “today and into the future.” That’s the difference between me and the WSNFC. They are only thinking about themselves today. They want to go anywhere and everywhere without any limits or fees or thought of its impact on the future. I can’t help but wonder if they are part of the 10%.

At every level I total disagree with them and urge you not to fall into their hysteria over nothing.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

If you are interested, here is the actual law they want you to protest and the specific clause about “special areas.”  It’s not easy to fully understand, but if you take the time to study it fully you’ll see they are totally miss-interpreting it. Their conclusions are so bizarre I can’t help but wonder if they aren’t deliberately deceiving people for their own selfish reasons.  Emphasis added.


14   Secretary may issue special recreation permits in the

15   following circumstances:

16   ‘‘(A) For specialized individual and group

17   use of Federal facilities and Federal rec-

18   reational lands and waters, such as, but not

19   limited to, use of special areas or areas where

20   use is allocated, motorized recreational vehicle

21   use, and group activities or events.

22 ‘  ‘(B) To recreation service providers who

23   conduct outfitting, guiding, and other recre-

24   ation services on Federal recreational lands



I've been a full-time VanDweller since 1995 and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again! Check out Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA), our nonprofit that I co-founded. HOWA is dedicated to helping nomads in need.

103 comments on “The Current Hysteria Over Proposed Public Land Changes
  1. Avatar jonthebru says:

    Excellent Bob, I was waiting for you with all your real world experience to weigh in on this issue. Frankly we must give the guardians of our natural places the proper tools with which to protect them.

  2. Thank you for clarifying that, Bob. I admit I was part of the hysteria. Tried to read the actual bill but my brain exploded. lol
    LaVonne Ellis recently posted…An Open Letter to Congresswoman Susan DavisMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      All those bills are hard to understand and because this one is a modification of an existing bill it is incredibly hard to understand.

      Unfortunately, the WFNFC is taking advantage of that and miss-leading people.

  3. Avatar Old Fat Man says:

    In my five years working in Washington State I was able to really get a feel for the way “the public” treats their lands. Uncontrolled land was abused to the point of total destruction in too many cases. Being on the road for seven years now and seeing many more places of free public lands being destroyed by uncontrolled access by uncontrolled “public”, I have had to have a change of heart. Now I much more appreciate that a lot of the controls are needed. I do not like it that land controls are needed but it is reality.
    At the same time a few of the federal Park Rangers need to come to understand they are not A GOD in charge of your life and thinking. A couple at Amistad NRA and a couple at Big Bend NP come to mind.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Old Fat Man, balance really is the key to everything in life and especially for this issue. It’s not easy to make the land easily accessible but not allow it to be destroyed. For the most part, they do a very good job, with some notable exceptions.

    • Avatar Tim Davydov says:

      May be, just may be…

      Instead of us (as a country) trying to spend money on even more law enforcers in parks, cities, etc. we need to educate the public. Same with medical care in the US. Medical industry is trying to push more pills and jack up prices for healthcare instead of trying to figure out the root problem of why more than 50% of the US population is obese.

      Knowledge and education > force and fear.

      We need to make people conscious through education.

  4. Avatar Steve says:

    I’m with you on this for the most part. There are so many people who want to use natural lands for so many different activities that it absolutely needs to be regulated. The challenge is that regulation naturally requires restriction to some degree. In the state park near my house (in Florida)they do not allow ATVs or dirt bikes on the trails because of the fire danger from sparks coming from the exhaust. I bought a motorcycle that has a spark arrestor in the exhaust specifically for this reason. I can ride the trails all I want. However, I still try to respect the land. I only ride on the fire roads and I never try to make new trails into the bush. Unfortunately, most people aren’t as thoughtful. Thousands of acres of forest are burned every year because of someone’s careless camp fire.

    I love our state and national parks and love taking my kids out into them to enjoy nature. If the government did not protect these lands, they would be gone for sure. At the same time, the whole point of protecting the lands is so that they can be enjoyed. Somehow we have to strike a balance. The reality is that the government can sometimes be overbearing and that is what people are getting sick and tired of. The EPA is doing this right now with the Clean Water Act. We obviously need to protect our water ways but there are documented instances of situations where the EPA is trying to control water on private property and threatening people with massive fines for no reason at all. It is these instances that cause people to be suspicious of new regulations that are being passed for “our good.” The government is increasingly showing itself as being untrustworthy. That makes people nervous and suspicious and often with good reason.

    Just a few thoughts. I enjoy your posts. The Alaska trip was fun to read about.


    • Bob Bob says:

      Steve, you make a good point, the government has done a lot to earn our distrust! Expecting the worst is pretty easy to do! Last year I had my most popular post abut the stupid things they were doing in the Coconino NF. I was very quick to report that because it really was a threat to our rights to use the land.

      But government isn’t all bad and we are making a big mistake if we just knee-jerk despise everything the government does.

      Like you said, the key is striking a balance; even if that is difficult to do. It requires work on our part to educate ourselves and support the good things and oppose the bad.

  5. Avatar gary green says:

    I. M. O… There are so many people that now living on this earth, 7 billion and counting!!!! i know as a kid i use to be able to sleep on the beaches for free, one was tin can beach because of all the cans people left !!! now at $68 a night at the state parks here in southern California which is the only place you can stay on the beaches here. and the summer months are sold-out as fast they come online!!! and winter time is getting that way. because the snow birds aren’t going to mexico any more. with more and more people full time all time, for what ever reasons !!!! soon and many places will become just as bad as it is here in southern california, with all these people living on the road now and in the future there bound to be big time changes on public land . just my two cents.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gary, no doubt about it, you are right, the world is changing; it’s not like when we were young. Who knows what the future will bring!

  6. Avatar BC Guy says:

    Good work, Bob. Thanks.

  7. Avatar Linda Sand says:

    I support your position but also agree that staff has to be reasonable about enforcement. We once arrived at a park that said it was full but the camping area was nearly empty. It was full only because they had issued all that day’s bouldering passes. Once we promised not to do any hiking we were allowed to camp there.

  8. Avatar An Honest Man says:

    I must admit I was a bit suprised to read this. But, once I reminded myself that Bob flagrantly ignores leash laws and regularly stays as much as 6 months on 14 day land, it made a lot of sense.

    Much like our government, Bob is above the law and can do as he pleases. Take counsel from hypocrites at your own peril.

    • Bob Bob says:

      An Honest Man, I’m seldom in places with leash laws so I rarely break them. Only a very small percentage of NF or BLM has actual leash laws in place.

      I’ve never spent 6 months in any one place. My itchy feet won’t allow that. I may have been as much as 2 months on 14 day land. However, I did the land no harm and left it cleaner than I found out. I am willing to break the law but I don’t do any harm to the earth or to society in any way. I can live with that, but I can understand how some people can’t.

      I think we can all agree that if the law is immoral, we not only can disobey it, we are morally bound to break it. If Hitler orders us to turn in the Jew next door so he can be killed, should I obey? If I disobey, am I horrible.

      Society orders us to live in a house or an apartment and do as much damage to the earth as we possibly can. Society creates laws that force us to destroy the earth. Should I obey them?

      I understand that you, like most people, don’t see anything wrong with destroying the earth; it’s perfectly fine and we should all do it. But I think living on-grid is a close second to killing Jews.

      I will live off-grid and if that means staying on 14 day land for 60 days, then I will do it. And I encourage you to do it as well.

      I am a follower of the Land Ethic as laid out by Aldo Leuopold:

      “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land… In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such…. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
      ― Aldo Leopold

      Nonconformity is the highest evolutionary attainment of social animals.
      ― Aldo Leopold

    • Avatar breid1903 says:

      bob i think”an honest man” has got you here. you have told us over the blog how to circumvent the rules. i don’t care if you follow the rules or not, BUT please don’t chastise the unwashed if they follow your lead.

      i don’t know why anyone would want to follow the rules if there ain’t a cop standing there. maybe it’s just me. also hitler isn’t hanging in az. we all break the rules, it’s just ok when we do it. i like what you are doing here, i just don’t know which rules that i should follow. anarchy rules, that’s it.

      we will be getting more rules as we go. corporations and environmentalists will write the rules. they have the money and the activists. i’m an activist and i donate. monthly. maybe we could all move in with cliven bundys bums.

      as my grandfather used to say “it all depends who’s ox has been gored”.

      peaceup raz

      • Bob Bob says:

        breid1903, I respect what you are saying but I respectfully disagree. First, I see a major difference between rules and laws. I have Rules that I do not break, basically it’s that I do the least harm I can and the most good possible. The majority of times, societies Laws and that Rule coincide and their is no conflict.

        But occasionally they conflict and when they do I hold to the Rule to do the least harm possible and the most good possible.

        I honestly believe that living on-gird in a typical home or apartment is incredibly harmful to this planet that we depend on for everything. And society is doing everything it can to keep us in those houses. For every loophole we find, it passes a law making it illegal.

        I’m doing tremendously less harm to the planet by living on public land and I am doing zero harm to society by doing so. Breaking the 14 day rule is the moral thing to do.

        I bought a piece of land so I could stay on it and not even have to break the law. But they hate that so they passed laws making it impossible for me to do even that. I have to get permits and put in a septic system just to sit on my own land and treasure and protect the earth by living off-grid. I have to spend 10,000 dollars or more to live off-grid, but because I live off-grid, I can’t afford it.

        Hitler may not be in AZ at war with the Jews, but our society has declared war on this planet and every day we each chose a side to fight for, the destroyers or the earth. I’ve made my choice.

        • Avatar Andy says:

          I think in the beginning, way back in time. Laws were passed based on pure common sense. Then more laws were passed for the stupid people and as stupidity grew among the masses, more laws got passed to protect the intelligent from the stupid. Then the government figured all of us were stupid and we had to be protected from ourselves. As the population grows we can expect more and more laws. I have seen some people do some really stupid things and I have seen some really intelligent people do some amazing things. Unfortunately there seems to be more stupid people than intelligent. Any law that supports the greatest good is sound. So if Bob is doing the greatest good living on the land then the “rules” do not apply. If some person is doing mostly harm then bingo that rule is there to try and stop them harming the rest of us. If only the government would see it that way.

          • Bob Bob says:

            Andy, I totally agree with your assessment! As was pointed out earlier, the more dense the population, the more strict the rules must become. In a city of 1,000 where many people know each other, an officer can have a lot of leeway, but in a city of a 1,000,000 he has much less.

            As the population increases, and times get harder, I think we can only expect things to get much worse.

  9. Avatar Low Key says:

    Hello Bob,

    Nice analysis. I’ve worked on projects on public lands in the west and know first hand how some of the “owners” treat it. The changes seem very reasonable and will provide much needed tools to address overuse and abuse.

  10. Avatar Ming says:

    thanks for the clarification, I was looking forward to free BLM camping some day and was chagrined to think that it would no longer be available. That would have been a shame.

    If these new regulations make it harder for people to treat the wilderness as their personal trash dump, then that is a good thing. I hate it when I come across piles of garbage that people could have easily taken away with them. I will sometimes opt for pay parks when I don’t have much time for a vacation just to make sure that I will be camping in a clean campground.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Ming, I’ve seen a lot of abuse of the land, but even so there are still a lot of clean places left. Campgrounds are generally pretty clean though.

  11. Sometimes I wish it was legal to shoot people who trash public lands—especially the beer drinkers who toss their empties and the morons with hatchets. And I’ve picked up a basket worth of shotgun shells in the past year.
    Al Christensen recently posted…A year laterMy Profile

  12. Avatar stan watkins says:

    Thanks Bob for the clarification but I agree with others here in that it’s getting hard to trust the government even when it appears to be doing right.

  13. Avatar Msbluebells says:

    I appreciate you taking the time to clarify your insights of this bill. I think the US governments and most governments have done so much to earn our mistrust that now there are some of us (like me) who think that every bill is trying to strip us of our remaining rights and privileges. I fear with the level of mistrust and the complexity has us as a society tied in complete knots. In addition most of us can only deal in sound bites. This was a great blog post. But it also scares me when I think of how easily manipulated we can be on many issues.

  14. Avatar Naomi says:

    Excellent as usual, Bob. I can’t stand to see people disrespect the land. I also feel like banging my head against a wall when folks interpret “public lands” as a place to do as they please for themselves, such as the case of the rancher wanting to feed his cattle on it and not pay.

    Many of us are easily manipulated by the government and the media, and that scares me. People need to research issues from all angles, let their representatives know how they feel, and vote. I can only hope that the good guys win. I’m quite jaded, but that’s all I know to do.

  15. Avatar Calvin R says:

    I’m going to go ahead and say my piece and then sign off. I think I’m giving up the idea of living on the road. I’ll admit to not reading all the comments; there are just too many.

    I agree that use of public lands must be regulated to prevent abuse or overuse. Regulations are in place for those purposes. You yourself have experience enforcing those, as you stated. The changes do not serve that purpose.

    Bob, I have a business background. Whether or not that company made money on your specific work, they made money. If not, it was because of their own mistakes in bidding or management, not because of the users. The idea that they are in business for any other purpose does not follow.

    The rule quote you give is actually broader than WSNFC claims. The uses are “specialized individual and group use,” which certainly includes individuals camping. It includes “Federal facilities and Federal recreational lands and waters such as, but not limited to, special areas . . .” That translates to any federal facility or recreational lans or waters. Let’s not kid ourselves. We have already seen signs the Federal government will be acting against “homeless” people using Federal lands. This codifies that.

    I wish all and sundry well. I will find a place to hide until the climate in this country changes.

    • Avatar jonthebru says:

      Hey, Calvin, don’t just leave! You have made many thoughtful statements on these comment sections. Its OK here if you don’t live on the road full time I don’t. Some RVers are elitist, this site isn’t. Come visit occasionally.
      You offer much of value keep us in the loop!

      • Avatar Calvin R says:

        That is not the point. Whether or not people realize it, the pressures on the “homeless” (whether or not by choice) in this country are increasing almost daily. Fulltime RVers, vandwellers, and others on the road are targets. It’s just not going to be a good choice in five years.

        • Avatar jonthebru says:

          All good points, my point is to stick around and comment once in a while. I personally couldn’t imagine being a stealth van dweller anywhere I wasn’t wanted or in a city. But to travel about and visit beautiful places and meet interesting people, thats what I would be in it for.
          Good luck to you!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Calvin, since we know each other and you have commented very often to the blog, I feel like we are friends to some degree. I will hate to see you go but I know enough of your circumstances to know that it may be your best choice to give up the thought of living mobile.

      I wish you would hang around and keep commenting, but I fully respect you have to do what is best for you.

      I do disagree with your interpretation of the current law and the proposed changes. In the old law and the new law the subject is “Special” recreation permits and when you and I go camping, that is not “Special”

      Every Forest has a Special Permit Officer in charge of issuing and enforcing and the idea they can read and decide on an application from every American who want to go camping in insanity.

      Here is a link to the Special Recreation Permit form:

      Imagine the outrage in this country if the FS or BLM ever tried to require people to fill out his form every time they wanted to go camping.


      I fully understand if you need to change your future plans, but I beg, you don’t let this total stupidity and lies from the WSNFC keep you from what you want.

      • Avatar Calvin R says:

        Bob, I worked in government for several years. I have changed government forms; it was one of my easier tasks. And as far as I know, an action being pure nonsense has deterred very few human choices. That’s how the climate got this way.

        • Bob Bob says:

          Calvin, the name of the section is “Special Recreation Permit” and nothing in the proposed language changes the definition of what is “special.” The old law clearly lays out what is special. I know for a fact (because I did the research and found it) that the only private, non-commercial activites that require a permit is groups over 75. If you have 74, the law does not allow any BLM or FS officer to ask for a Special Recreation Permit. I had to know because the RTR is approaching 75 and that is the ONLY language in the law that gave them any authority over me.

          None of that language changes!! Zero, Zip Nada!!!!! There is nothing in this proposed law changes that give anyone any new authority to require a permit.

          The WSNFC is deceiving us because the language is difficult to understand!!

          Knowing just a little of your circumstances, I can understand if you decide mobile living isn’t for you. I just hate to see you give up a life-long dream on the basis of their lies and tricks.

          • Avatar Calvin Rittenhouse says:

            I’m not going to debate this any more. There’s no point. My experience in government gives me a different viewpoint is my last word on that.

            This is not the only factor in my decision. I am waiting for the specifics of the current climate changes to manifest, but one very good bet is that the West will become a poorer choice of places to live according to the latest sound research. Even if that were not true, attitudes and therefore policies toward the homeless (RVers with money included) are hardening in more places than I can follow.

            All in all, staying in place or very creative means of travel are in order.

          • Bob Bob says:

            I understand Calvin, and I only wish the very best for you whatever you decide.

  16. Avatar joe says:

    Stop the recklessness overpopulation is all the problem i am single and glad to not have any rug rats the future is scary

    • Bob Bob says:

      Joe, it’s very hard to argue with you. Supporting 7 billion people on this planet requires our doing horrible things to it. There are now huge “dead zones” in the oceans where no life can live because of the run-off of chemical fertilizers. And yet if we stopped using chemical fertilizers people would starve to death all across the world (although a billion people are starving to death right now while Americans throw away enough food to feed them every day).

      The future is very, very scary.

  17. Avatar CAE says:

    Growing Population density brings rules and more rules. Get used to it. It is our future. It certainly looks like our gov is gearing up for public confrontations on a grand scale.

  18. Avatar Sameer says:

    These actions by the Government don’t happen without reason. We all pay the price for the irresponsible behavior by the few. I use this example to explain. The Walmart in Cortez has an upper parking lot. A great place to park for a few days to access the internet and get supplies, and many people park here for longer. I am with Jay and Margie here until Wednesday. Every morning over coffee we comment on the filth and amount of trash that people leave for the employees of Walmart to clean up. Carts full of trash, trash thrown in the bushes, even poop bags. In the lower parking lot are trash cans. How long do you think it will take before Walmart decides to put up ‘No overnight parking’ signs so they do not have to pay their employees to clean up the mess. This is a great article. I understand fully why the Government has to make these changes. I have to admit I don’t understand the consciousness of those who ‘trash’ OUR Public Lands and expect someone else to clean up the mess.
    Sameer recently posted…The Current Hysteria Over Proposed Public Land ChangesMy Profile

    • Avatar Ming says:

      is the fault in how children are educated? Respecting other people through respecting common property should be emphasized more. I’m going to make sure that my little nephew learns that as he grows up.

      I was at these amazing sandstone galleries on Galiano Island, watching this man encourage his children to carve “mommy” in huge letters into the sandstone. Talking to him about it led to the “it’ll just get worn away eventually” response. I was speechless with anger.

      On a paddling trip, we ended up at a free site littered with trash. We collected it in big bags and asked a motor boater with plenty of room (we were in little kayaks and staying for a while) to take it back to the boat launch for us. He refused. What is wrong with these people?

    • Say hi to Jay and Margie for me, Sameer!
      LaVonne Ellis recently posted…In Praise of Dirt RoadsMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Amen!! Preach it Sameer. I’ve shared a camp several times with Sameer and I can testify he lives what he says!

  19. Avatar Zil says:

    Bob! You make good points and have a good argument about protecting public lands. I agree. the horror stories I could tell you of the NJ Pine Lands protection area would bring tears.
    BUT. living in a stick and brick as the vast majority of people do can not and should not be compared to the Holocaust ie; “killing of Jews”.
    After I read that response I skipped through all the rest to post this. So if something was modified later, please accept my apology.

    • Bob Bob says:

      You are probably right Zil, that was a strong statement.

      However, if you take the point of view as expressed by Aldo Leopolds Land Ethics, it makes sense. Western Civilization has declared a war to the death against Planet Earth and every day we each make a choice which army we fight in. What did every German citizen say after WW II? “I didn’t know! I didn’t kill any Jews!”

      That is exactly what we are saying today even as we are destroying the earth with great joy and glee.

      Hitler only killed 6 million Jews, unless we all wake up and radically change our lives billions are going to die. And that is not hyperbole, that is the consensus of the great majority of the scientists on the planet. There is no longer any debate about whether global climate change is real, the only question is, is it too late to avoid unprecedented disaster by the end of the century?

      I know how difficult it is to believe or to hear, but I truly, deeply believe that the Holocaust of the planet is directly comparable to the Holocaust against the Jews.

      • Avatar Zil says:

        I think there are many positive steps being taken to save our planet. Both by government and by private citizens. None of us are truly off grid. Even you rely on big oil, Government roads and national forest land, the best food distribution, and various internet connections.

        • Bob Bob says:

          Zil, all we are doing is putting band-aids on an open artery. Altogether they are going to keep the patient alive for another few minutes.

          No, none of us is off-grid (except the guy who lives in a cave in Moab, he’s close). Beyond that, nothing we do as individuals is going to make any difference. Our only hope is to declare World War III on global warming and follow the example of WW II exactly. Ration everything, nationalize industries, declare martial law, require victory gardens, then we might have a chance.

          But of course we won’t do that. And even if we did China and India won’t. There is no reason for anyy hope for the future. When we finally start to address the problem it will be too little too late.

          But the question here is individual morality isn’t it? The charge has been made that I am a horrible person because I break the law. My answer is that I’m following my sense of morality that refusing to try to destroy the planet is the highest possible morality Maybe I’m kidding, deluding or excusing myself. But I still wish that everyone reading this would join me.

  20. Avatar Craig and Jacque says:

    Great post Bob! It said so many things that I’ve been thinking for quite a while now.

  21. Avatar Ron says:

    Good article Bob. I noticed the issue on and wondered about the real story. They must be blowing it out of proportion too. Actually we need to protect all areas. They need a lot more rangers to patrol and insure the land is not over used.

    Unique sandstone area may seem like the typical type of area that needs limited use but every area, even wide open desert areas are unique in the ecosystem. In that respect I would think that all land should be protected. If it takes permits and close patrolling then that’s what we need and as you explained, it wont happen without the funds.

    People can spend thousands for fuel but they cant spend a thousand or two to spend 6 months in a beautiful warm desert? Seems like a bargain for what we get.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hi Ron, when you see all the damage done by a few bad apples you do wish there was more enforcement. The big problem is the massive amount of land would require so many Rangers we just can’t afford it. So they put their emphasis on areas near the large populations centers and do the best they can.

  22. Avatar Canine says:

    I frequently drive through Glacier National Park, the Wilderness Complex and the National Forests that surround it. Every pullout is full of garbage and most have a pile or two of human excrement right at the pullout. I have to watch my step when I get out. It smells, too. I prefer the less traveled road that sees far less abuse.

    One large concern I have about public lands are traps. It is a public land, but it is a minefield of leg hold traps and Conibear traps. Sometimes a trapper will say, “If you don’t like it, then don’t hike/camp there.” The land is for all to use, but some don’t see it that way. They want to use it how they want to use it and if that use kills/injures non-target animals, including ourselves and our pets, then that’s tough.

    I see the value of having guardians to protect the land from ourselves. I sure appreciate the experience and intelligent write-up and your calm, apropos responses in the comments.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Canine it comes as a complete surprise to me that you are running into leg-hold traps in the National Forests. I’ve never seen any, but it sounds like you are a lot in Montana and I haven’t spent much time in their NFs, just a few times.

      Have you talked to the Rangers in those areas to complain, it seems like that would be such a safety issue they would do something about it.

      • Avatar Canine says:

        Montana is second only to Texas in being rated the worst state for regulation of trapping. We lose about 70 or so dogs a year to traps, especially those body grip traps. Most of the traps are snare traps, which are the least lethal and easiest to release. Some areas are worse than others. I’m not sure, but my understanding is the western part of the state has more problems with non target animals being caught.

        I believe everyone who owns a dog should know how to operate and release a trap. If your dog runs into a trap, you simply won’t be able to figure it out during the stressful few seconds you have before the dog dies if it is caught in a lethal manner.

        There is a place called Freezeout Lake. It is public land and a great riparian area with bird hunting allowed. Lots of bird hunters with their dogs, yet trapping is allowed there. I don’t know how many dogs if any have been caught and injured, but I won’t allow my dog to roam there. I’ve seen kids run around there! Crazy. Very fun to see the avian wildlife and it attracts a lot of people!

        Trapping here is a very divided, hot issue. It seems one is either for it or against it. Lots of opposition butting heads with lots of tradition with the law strongly favoring tradition.

        • Bob Bob says:

          Canine, it sounds like a difficult issue. But I know nothing about it so I can’t really comment.

          But thanks very much for making us aware of it! If I spend much time in Montana, now I know to educate myself before I go.

  23. Avatar Dan Cordray says:

    Hi Bob, Hope to see you in Quartzite this winter. Sorry this is such a long reply, didn’t mean to “blog” your blog. 😉
    I just returned from backpacking in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky,( where there any many fragile ecosystems. Not only the rock formations but the plant and animal life are often in a delicate balance. Having said that, there are “rules” no camping within 300′ of a trail, no fires in caves or overhangs, no camping within 100′ of cliffs. Now most of these rules are common sense sort of things for those folks that lack common sense. (My background in the fire service doing search & rescue in these areas gives me lots of insight into how few people actually have commmon sense these days.) But the rules also prevent the “love to death” use you describe. There are now areas along the trails that have been marked off by string, and signs hanging asking to not walk or camp in this “recovery area”. This has become necessary because some folks just don’t understand or think they are above the “rules”. Does it hurt anything for me to walk through that area to dip water out of the creek or take a picture? Probably not, but what about fifty of me or even a hundred? Now we’ve collectively worn a path that rain will soon find as a new point of erosion into a stream. (I know you understand that, I stated it for some of your readers.) This sort of positive “management” is being done by the government in an area where my day-use fee for 3 days was $5. In contrast, a free area that I frequent, along with many others, it is filled with trash in the bushes, fire rings that have been stolen, crap hanging from trees (yes poop bags and other garbage) and the porta-lets in danger of being removed from this “free” area. The NFS is considering simply closing that area because the cost to operate is 100% loss. So how can we get people to respect something that appears to have no value? I ask the question that way because the attitude of “you get what you pay for” has ruined this country. Most times things that are free are the MOST valuable! Consider friends, love, rain sunshine, the air we breathe, need I go on. Perhaps, a usage fee is what some people need to adjust their thinking. I don’t mind a reasonable fee to help protect our resources from those that don’t understand. Is this going to be a hardship on some that have fixed incomes and use the lands as nomads? I don’t know. It is a shame that those of us that have itchy feet and nomadic tendancies are going to be the ones affected most. Again sorry for the long reply. The roped off areas in the Gorge both hurt heart and blessed me that the resource IS being managed and therefore protected.
    ~~ Dan ~~
    PS. I understand if you don’t post this long reply, some of this might be just me venting. 🙁
    Dan Cordray recently posted…Red River GorgeMy Profile

    • Avatar Ron says:

      You said a key point…..”Some folks just don’t understand or think they are above the “rules”.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Dan, I understand and totally agree with you. The few people who are destroying the land are ruining it for the rest of us. It’s going to end up with more severe restrictions, fees and closures. In the desert West it’s fairly common to find “emergency closures” in large areas that have been torn up so bad by the ATVs that they just close the area to all motorized traffic.

      In many areas it’s the ATVs that are the main problem. Those people would never get off their butts and walk but now they can go and destroy much more land than they would otherwise be able to.

      I’m very much in favor of greatly limiting where ATVs can go and including large fines for breaking the laws.

  24. Avatar ccbreder says:

    Well said, Bob.

  25. I’m glad you looked into depth about this bill, the hype and fallacies, it appears, and it’s great to have additional education about it. I was one of the ones that got discombobulated thinking there might not be anymore free places to camp. Well, I see points about the potential of that happening with our exploding population and more and more people hitting the road. There’s too many people out here abusing the land! If there could be a way for THOSE people to be heftily fined, that could help out the monetary needs A LOT. I vote that we charge the litters, polluters and defacers hefty fees and make them clean up their mess.

  26. Avatar Dan Cordray says:

    Here’s a link to some of the actions being taken here in the East. As you may recal Tumbling Creek is the location of some GTG for us.
    At least the locals are also fighting this sort of action.
    Dan Cordray recently posted…Red River GorgeMy Profile

    • Avatar Calvin R says:

      The folks on the VanDwellers GTG Yahoo group went to a lot of effort finding this campground and keeping it clean and nice. They got along well with locals who showed up there. Nobody knows a rational reason for this closing.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Dan, I read the link and there is very little real information in it so I have no idea what is going on there. I can say this, when i was a campground host in the Sierras I had a toilet that got very, very little use, but it did get abused. Finally, the FS came in and destroyed and it reverted to forest. Before, it was closed to camping, I chased a lot of people away from it. Afterwards it was open to camping which was much better. I cleaned it every day and there was no way it was worth keeping open. I celebrated when they tore it down.

      We only heard half the story and if we got to hear the other half it might be much clearer.

      If you want the FS (or any other agency) to provide you with services, you have to be willing to pay for them. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the FS is terribly underfunded so they look to economize everywhere they can. If a facility isn’t worth the cost, they eliminate it. And we all scream about that!! But, are you willing to pay for the services?

      If they add a day-use fee, their will be hysterical screaming about the end of the Forest. If they raise taxes to cover it, we will not tolerate that!!!

      If you want it, be ready to pay for it. If you don’t want to pay, kiss it goodbye. That’s the American way.

      • Avatar Dan says:

        Bob, you and I are on the same page here. Yes the FS has to manage their affairs (the forest) in a manner that will allow them longevity in their mission. The article did have a negative slant, it was emotional from the point of the locals. There is a road that goes through this area to a popular lake/fishing area. And as with many sites, in these hills, there only about 12-14 actual tent sites there. Which is common for many of the “dispersed” camps. What I found encouraging is the appearance of some form of management of the larger area. That site does get a lot of use, but would probably not support paying somebody collecting day use fees, or enforcement. And the other site I mentioned is remote enough that the FS does not patrol it, Fish & Wildlife does. I shared these with you (and readers) so you could get a glimpse of what’s going on in the East. Like yourself, I just wish more people would take up the mantle of being morally responsible with the resources of mother earth. I have no problem with being asked to pay_my_way, though I recognize some that use the forest as refuge may. I have met and fed some of these in my travels. And I don’t have an answer for those folks.

        • Bob Bob says:

          Dan, money-woes are forcing the FS to cut lose a lot of dead-weight. But those places aren’t lost to us, they just revert to forest. You can usually still camp there, there just won’t be free services like their used to be.

  27. Avatar Rob says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days now…. This is ‘my opinion’.
    If ‘they’ are allowed to charge a fee just for the use of our public lands they will, there is no end to it once they start.

    How long will it be before you are in a national forest looking for a spot to camp, correction, looking for a spot within 100′ of a permitted road to camp (camping most anywhere in the NF is now gone)and you’ll have to find that $5 a day for your 14 day permit?

    Not going to happen? If ‘they’ are allowed to charge for the use of public lands whenever ‘they’ want ‘they’ will.
    It is not a problem for many to cough up that fee for great place to park their $100k motorhome, it is a problem for someone on a fixed income or trying to raise a family while living paycheck to paycheck.

    You could see it 20 years ago, in the national forest campground next to Cass Lake Minnesota it was $10 per sleeping unit. That 30′ motor home with it’s generator (a sleeping unit) cost $10 to camp and I had to tell the kids they couldn’t each put up their own tents (a sleeping unit) because I just did not have the extra money to pay $10 per tent. We got by with 2 tents (it cost us twice what it cost the MH next to us).
    When a family has to save up to go camping the world has changed a LOT and not for the better.

    You see people trashing the place & the fees a way to prevent that, I see the fees a way to keep the the people who can’t afford the fees out. Do I mistrust the bureaucracy? Yes I do.

    The law against sleeping under a bridge applies to the wealthy man the same as it does to the homeless man.
    Rob recently posted…Adventureland workcamping review, season 2My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Rob, I’m not saying that will never happen, but I am saying that this particular bill does NOT do it or open the door to it. I think it is decades before what you are suggesting will happen.

      You said:
      (camping most anywhere in the NF is now gone)

      I have to totally disagree with the idea that camping in the NF is gone. I’ve camped all over the place out west and never had the slightest shortage of free, great land to camp on. It may be difficult back east, I don’t know, but out west it’s EVERYWHERE!!!!! And as far as I can tell it has not diminished at all.

  28. Avatar joe zuerlein says:

    hey bob could you please tell me if i could find work (paid) in quartszite for the winter i planed on going this winter so if you are able to inform me where to go that would be great also if you are heading in that direction would like to chat with you thanks joe.z

    • Bob Bob says:

      Joe, I will be in Quartzsite (or within 20 miles of Qzt) no later than the end of November and you are always welcome in my camp! I’ll have it on my blog when I get there. We usually put on a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for about 15-20 people, so you are welcome for that.

      Working in Qzt for the winter is probably not going to happen. It’s a tiny town that gets about a million RVers in the winter. But they are only there for a few months. So you can work for those few months, but not much longer. You could probably to find work for part or all of November, December and January. The main work is for vendors in tents as a gopher or salesman, so get there early and beat the bushes for a job. Also, the restaurants explode over that period of time so you can get a job as a waiter, cook or bus-boy.

      An almost gauranteed job is with in a warehouse from September to December.

      Hope that helps. Bob

  29. Avatar Canine says:

    I wanted to go see Eagle Falls in Glacier National Park this year. I drove a few hours to get there to find out Day Passes are gone and you have to start out at a Week Pass which is $25. I didn’t want to spend that much for 30-45 minutes, so I did a u-turn and spent the day doing the second half of my plan in the nearby National Forest and had a great time. Lots less traffic, too.

    While I’ve been treated very well most of the time, I’ve had problems. A big wind blew through and toppled a bunch of trees. Well, a Ranger decided that cutting any tree with green needles still on it for firewood was illegal. He just made up that law on the spot.

    Working on timber sales on any kind of public land has gotten ridiculous, too. Also easements with private land owners can be a bugger even if you have a paper stating you have a right to cross the property to go to a purchased timber sale, sometimes, they will lock the gate on you. Then it is a big, long court fight.

    Trying to share land and treat it right is a surprisingly tough issue.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Canine, it is a very complicated issue. Remember, the FS and NP is caught in-between many diametrically opposed forces, all paying millions to lobbyists.

      The environmentalists want all logging ended and scream long and hard about it. The logging and other commercial industries are lobbying, and flashing cash in order to get to those trees. Somewhere between those extremes is the right thing. Nobody wants the forest clear-cut but if we don’t keep them cut and thinned they will all burn in forest fires or beetles will get them. Nobody wants that either. I have to say in my opinion everywhere I have been the FS has done a pretty good job of walking the tight-rope. Obviously they aren’t perfect, but overall I am impressed with them

      I have to disagree about the cutting green trees. The rule everywhere I have been is cutting firewood is “dead and down only!!” Green and down would give me pause also. I’ve seen trees that have been knocked over and half their roots up in the air live for years. I was a campground host and I walked by a tree that had been run into and knocked over. It was alive after 4 years. I was very impressed with it’s tenacity!!


      • Avatar Ron says:

        I’m not talking about anyone in here but I often hear people get all excited because they see an area logged off. What they dont understand is that it may look terrible but a whole new cycle starts again. As low growing plants and trees now have sunlight they begin to grow. As they grow they provide browse for deer and rabbits and cover for many animals. You could go in and cut an area and just burn all the wood but what would remain would do more good for the animals than tall trees that offer nothing.

        This is why deer populations are often greater in more populated areas vs some of the great northern forests. The habitat that homes and landscaped yards, gardens and farms provide is very supportive compared to life in the forest. Low growing branches and buds provide winter food.

        Yes Bob, it’s about balance and proper resource management.

        • Bob Bob says:

          Ron, I agree totally. For a long time we fought every forest fire because we didn’t like what it looks like afterwards. Then we found out we were doing much more harm than good and now whenever possible we let fires burn and even do prescribed burns.

          Logging is the same way. We don’t like what it looks like afterwards and so we don’t allow logging. Today we know that is not good forestry management. Tearing everything down and starting all over is natures way whether we like it or not.

  30. Avatar Zil says:

    I have seen more than one person badly injured cutting wind blown trees. When the top weight was removed, the tree would suddenly wip up-right with it’s root ball, taking the saw and all with it.

  31. Avatar hotrod says:

    Thank you bob for putting my mind at ease. I am living in fear that with every passing day we move closer to the gov totally removing any chance of retirement for myself and others. I still would be more happy with a more firm yet gentile hand from park rangers and while we spend money like its going out of style left and right in this country on people who never worked or never will work, and on countries who if given chance would kill us all, send the money needed to run N.F.., parks without any additional charges.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hotrod, I avoid politics, but I have to agree with you. As the economy gets worse and more and more people turn to the NFs for survival, I’m afraid things could get pretty unpleasant for us.

      There may be more fees, restrictions and permits in the future (in fact it’s likely) but this current bill isn’t going to lead to that and I just hate to be lied to for their own gain.

  32. Avatar Kevin H says:

    Today, while I was moving about picking up litter in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, I got to visit with a number of park guests. One recurring topic was that it is too bad there is “so much” litter. I had to counter that with around 3.5 million people visiting each year, I am constantly and pleasantly surprised by the lack of litter, . I jokingly proposed what would the park look like if 3.5 million bison passed through each year!!

    I attribute the lack of litter in a large part to the fact that each vehicle pays a fee to be here. My observation is fees seem help to cull out the majority of the ne’er-do-wells.

    I also spend a good bit of time in free parks. The litter and damage is amazingly more prolific.

    Parks rely so heavily on volunteers that many agree that due to revenue shortfalls, they could not operate without them. Imposing permits or charging use fees is fiscally necessary. The fact that it repels those without respect for our natural resources is a consequential plus.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Kevin, I totally agree with everything you said, and all my experience for 4 years as a campground host was the same as yours. I’ve been to a few places close to big cities where they were filthy, but other than that it is pretty amazing how clean public land stays. I’ve also found fees to greatly improve peoples behavior. My free campground got less traffic because it was remote, but took more of my time because the people who used it were much dirtier.

      Thanks for your comments!

  33. Avatar FrancisYorkster says:

    Ha, this was a great blog post and I had a bit of fun (albeit morbidly so) reading the string of comments.

    We live upon a planet, and within a biosphere, that does not recognize the anthropomorphic imposition we humans have devised to differentiate public land from private land. When it comes right down to it, the whole lot needs protection, and not just on grand scales that preserves the giant trees of the west and the mountain tops and watersheds of the east. We need also–perhaps more so–to protect the subtle fabric of natural ecosystems which are equally vital to the health of our planet, yet don’t immediately catch our eye for grandeur.

    Remember how pissed people were about protecting spotted owls? Even as cool looking birds, a large percentage of people were unwilling to overwhelmingly support their protection. Imagine their dismissiveness and angry reactions if the environmental “extremists” had they been attempting to protect land because of fragile bacterial and fungal populations in the soil that couldn’t only be seen with microscopes!

    Out lives DEPEND upon such a complex symphony of biology that it defies not only our ability to quantify, but to even see it! There is so much more to a forest than the trees, and I don’t mean that in some hippie-dippie new-age sense, I mean there is a whole hell of a lot more life there than what you can see.

    Our fears of heavy handed government action is small potatoes compared to the torture of living on a planet when the biological and climatological vitals result in major paroxysm en route to a global flatline!

    Yep, we are doomed… Until then, I’m going to enjoy observing beautiful places out in the country, eating chanterelles and paw paws, and maybe breaking a few rules and laws along the way. Yo ho ho!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Francis, it’s like you have been reading my mind! You and I think exactly alike!!! 😉

      It’s not just the small things they ignore:

      1) For now, the oceans are absorbing some of the extra carbon from the air and they are literally dying! Nobody cares!
      2) There are gigantic stretches of the ocean with no life left in them, nobody cares!
      3) The Arctic ice is almost gone–very soon there will be a northwest passage through it every summer. The permafrost in the arctic is on the verge of melting and dumping all that methane into the air. The arctic the canary in the cage and it is almost dead. Nobody cares.
      4) The rain forests and being clear-cut so they can’t remove all that carbon it should. Instead it’s being burned pumping all that stored carbon into the air But nobody cares.

      You are right, we are doomed!

    • Avatar Canine says:

      Francis, it seems if we can’t see it or feel it, it isn’t real. Take the example of Ray Rice hitting his then fiance. He admitted to hitting her. Everyone knew about it. He received a two game suspension. But when the video came out, somehow things were different. Now his life as he knows it is over. No new evidence was presented. What’s the difference? Not one thing except the video, which is redundant evidence.

      Seems like the same perspective is being applied to our environment. We can see the bruises and some of the evidence, but we can’t seem to acknowledge the knockout punch for what it is. Until we can “see” that for what it is, we won’t do anything. By then it will be too late.

  34. Avatar Iris says:

    I am so glad you have posted and explained the issue to so many people who have not worked as camp host. I saw first hand of the horrible devastation to our national forest.I clean the lake around Huntsville called pine view and another lake. I only received the minimum wage that UT managed a camp ground. I was called every name in the book enforcing the rules to try to keep the place for further generations. I saw this coming and I am all for it. Its not just the land that gets abused its also the wild life. The ATV’s and other motorized 4 wheelers are killing and polluting the land.
    I just wanted to say thank you for putting this out there.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks Iris, when you’ve been on the other side you get a totally different viewpoint!

      I agree so much about how much damage ATVs are doing to public lands. I’m sure it is just a few bad apples but those few are doing so much damage that they are all going to end up suffering. And I must admit that I will cheer loudest of all when that happens.

      I think it may be time to ban all ATVs from Public lands except for designated OHV (off-highway-vehicles) areas. They are that horrible.

  35. Avatar Giulia Latini says:

    I think a license to use the Public Land should be required and issued after taking a test based on your knowledge of land and animal conservation and preservation. Like a driver’s license or something. Also to make sure you know the Rules. And then you go in, for free the way it still is now, for the moment. And if you’re caught littering or in any way defiling nature you are fined (and if you don’t have money you do “nature community service”) and flogged…. Just kidding… Sort of. Citizens can report you too.

  36. Avatar Fat Tire Flyer says:

    The loss of free camping began, here in the SF Bay Area, with “the Summer of Love”. For that year SF Police tolerated or ignored widespread camping in America’s Signature urban public park. The next year the Herb Caen dubbed hippies crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin Municipal Water District Campgrounds on Mount Tamalpais that could be occupied for two weeks under one name then switched to another member of a large group. After a year or two of all night drinking and uninhibited everything the district closed their camps and the State Park shut some too. It was a
    Major loss to Boy Scouts and other non- residential campers. Local college students lived stealth, in VW buses etc., and got by for many years. Hippies or outdoor residents seeking more open camping moved to public land 100 miles north in Mendocino County and beyond. Car sleeping in SF got tickets etc.

    A huge new National Seashore Proposed Wilderness Designation, for subdivided non wilderness land, to get acquisition money. It was publicly rejected as too elitist for the existing uses in 1971-2. By 1976 a “recreational wilderness” was defined by the Department of the Interior to jockey the definition to allow chains saws to clear horse trails, service trucks for garbage and promised existing use, including bicycling throughout, would continue.
    8 years of that changed when the Sierra Club realized that now that the land was acquired, with cyclists’ help, they could be banned, and largely were.

    As the gentrification and job export took hold in the 1990’s campsites used since childhood on Marin county open space parks were over run with homeless people, petty criminals, good but mentally ill misfits, and financial refugees. The free Pt Reyes Campsite became in part stealth commuter residential park lot camps. Now, with no public hearing, the free camps are $20/night.

    The famous local flea market(swap meet) public land sold for a mall. The low level survivability index plummeted….

    I think the idea of a public commons, free urban park camps and micro vending is part of the answer to save wild land access. We can not all drive to the desert if our numbers become in the millions. I heard Santa Barbara moves car campers from county park to park, not burdening one neighborhood, yet allowing car camp without endless driving and hiding. Think carbon footprint.

    Money and fees are not the issue. We bailed out, banks, utilities, and bomb half ghe world. Don’t try to tell me that fees are an answer.

    Allocation, Rotation, Dispersal and Acceptence of lifestyle can make urban and wildland subsistence bearable for all. To save our parks we must reinvent our cities. We can not all RV as the economy burns up. We need to address the housing issue to create small, affordable spaces for everyone – so that camping remains an accessible adventure and not just the only alternative to gentrified tribute to criminal financial entities. Half of my native Marin County is State, Federal or Local Park and it is almost all unavailable for camping – though it was 40 years ago.

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