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Re: Hiking Permit or License

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avatar Hiking Permit or License
July 31, 2011 07:05AM
Each time I visit a National Park, I am stuck by how much effort is made to undo a what seems like a correctable problem. Specifically, the threshold for entering a park is very low. Once inside the park, much effort is made to get visitors to be aware of dangers, to obey regulations related to plants and wildlife, to adhere to trail use recommendations--- essentially to behave in such a way that the park or visitor will not be injured or destroyed. Isn't this a backward approach to the problem? Imagine if this approach were used in regard to automobile or airplane operation, hunting, fishing, scuba diving, electrical or plumbing construction--- almost any other activity that has potential for error that can affect personal safety, injure others, or damage the environment. Given that many people are urbanized primarily and that many childhood outdoor educational opportunities such as Boy Scouts are less popular currently, it seems that some effort should be made to document a "threshold level of knowledge" prior to entry into a park or to provide a more organized indoctrination method.

Backcountry Permits exist primarily to educate backpackers about the proper behavior in the wilderness, why don't we have a similar process for "frontcountry" visitors? This process does not need to be cumbersome and could occur by an online process or procedure perhaps with renewal every 10 years or more. At the very least, every adult should agree by signature to a list of expected behaviors. This list could also serve to educate the visitor about the unique issues or dangers in a park by reading or listening to an organized recitation of important regulations or issues-- rattlesnakes, flash floods in slot canyons, cell phone function, stalactites, animal proximity, bear spray, etc (depending upon the park).

If individuals do not want to get out of their vehicles, fine-- no permit required.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 02, 2011 01:42PM
You have a good point for after watching what people do, I think that they should have to take a test before the are allowed in.

I am a member of Leave No Trace and found it is geared more to the back country but they are now trying to do some more front country education. However, I am disappointed with how Yosemite does not utilize Leave No Trace to the same extent as compared to other National Parks. The last time I went to Rocky Mt. NP, the newspaper that you get when you go into the park had a whole page just for LNT while in Yosemite there is just a tiny blurb on what not to do. Also many of the RMNP information packets sold by their association, have a page in the front of them with LNT info. I have suggested to rangers that they post LNT information at all of the restrooms since that is one place that everyone goes to at some point.
Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 02, 2011 03:35PM
Man, I can just imagine the lines at Big Oak Flat for this one...



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 02, 2011 04:08PM
I was just thinking about this in a related sense yesterday.

I'm starting a 9 day trip out of Taboose Pass on Saturday. I won't be in the area until the Forest Service offices close on Friday so I have to wait to pick up my permit until 8 am on Saturday morning, ruining my chances at getting an early morning (i.e. cool) start up Taboose. Because we're entering a national park they can't night drop box the permit for us because according to the ranger "the NPS makes sure we speak to every person getting a permit face-to-face about the rules and regulations"

Thing is, I can't even count the number of permits I've obtained for wilderness, national forest, national park backcountry travel. I know the regulations. I've heard them a million times. Sometimes I know more than the ranger or volunteer issuing the permit (has happened many times). Any ranger who speaks with me for more than five seconds realizes it and will generally go over things quickly or converse about more interesting things. But why can't people who are regular backcountry visitors and have no red flags (no tickets, etc) be one some kind of 'pre-approved' list where permits can be mailed ahead of time? A license as you describe? It would reduce their overhead, shorten the line at offices, and make trip planning more flexible. Then they would have the capacity to work on the permits like you mention. smiling smiley
Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 02, 2011 07:24PM
I've sometimes found a sympathetic ranger who looks at the records, sees that I've been there many times before, and allows me to give the spiel back to him...which sanes time .



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 02, 2011 09:00PM
All the Forest Service places seem to do things differently.
SEKI probably mandated that due to too many bozos not having a clue.
Other places almost just say "don't shoot yourself".

You've probably gone thru an ungodly long talk from a ranger at Yose b4.
When we got our permit from Bridgeport earlier this year the guy
says "we have to give you this talk regardless of your experience or
if you've ever gotten a permit before"... after which I cringed thinking
it was gonna be another 10 minute lecture... hilariously he
nearly only said "don't poop on yourself and have fun" and didn't
even ask where we were going (usually they want to know what
seems are the exact GPS co-ords of where you will sleep every night).

Anyway!

Drop box permits rule though. Almost as good as self-reg. wink

Have a nice trip



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 06:52AM
Quote
chick-on
All the Forest Service places seem to do things differently.
(usually they want to know what
seems are the exact GPS co-ords of where you will sleep every night).

Yes, last year the TM ranger recorded my entire planned 4-day trip by grid number on a special short hand grid map they use. Never saw that before.
Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 04:38AM
Yeah, that won't work. But it's a nice thought.

People will do what people do. "Those rules/railings/signs/restrictions don't apply to me. I'm a special little flower and so is my dog, who hikes with me everywhere. I don't go without my dog!"
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 05:48AM
Quote
AlmostThere
Yeah, that won't work. But it's a nice thought.

People will do what people do. "Those rules/railings/signs/restrictions don't apply to me. I'm a special little flower and so is my dog, who hikes with me everywhere. I don't go without my dog!"

History suggests differently. I can recall the before and after of many behavior education campaigns: drunk driving, introduction of seat belts and graduated driver's licenses, safe sex campaigns, hunter and boater safety courses etc. . Red Cross swimming education and water safety programs must have certainly prevented thousands of drownings. The warnings and patient advisories that come attached to prescription drugs may not be read by everyone, but occasionally a complication is avoided by the information provided.

There are gradations of behavior from conscientiously circumspect to wantonly anarchistic. The goal is to capture the attention and change the behavior of those who just are not focused on the potential dangers or do not have adequate skills . Most people spontaneously put on seat belts in vehicles now, not because the "common man" has suddenly become more responsible, but because seat belt use has become integral to riding in a vehicle-- socially appropriate and with systemic reminders and legal sanctions.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 08:09AM
Quote
Frank Furter
Quote
AlmostThere
Yeah, that won't work. But it's a nice thought.

People will do what people do. "Those rules/railings/signs/restrictions don't apply to me. I'm a special little flower and so is my dog, who hikes with me everywhere. I don't go without my dog!"

History suggests differently. I can recall the before and after of many behavior education campaigns: drunk driving, introduction of seat belts and graduated driver's licenses, safe sex campaigns, hunter and boater safety courses etc. . Red Cross swimming education and water safety programs must have certainly prevented thousands of drownings. The warnings and patient advisories that come attached to prescription drugs may not be read by everyone, but occasionally a complication is avoided by the information provided.

There are gradations of behavior from conscientiously circumspect to wantonly anarchistic. The goal is to capture the attention and change the behavior of those who just are not focused on the potential dangers or do not have adequate skills . Most people spontaneously put on seat belts in vehicles now, not because the "common man" has suddenly become more responsible, but because seat belt use has become integral to riding in a vehicle-- socially appropriate and with systemic reminders and legal sanctions.

So how does history suggests differently that what AlmostThere stated?

What you just pointed out did not refute AlmostThere's main point: that there will always be people who believe that rules and regulations don't apply to them. Even with all the examples that you cited: drunk driving, safe sex, hunter & boater safety, seat belts law, there are still many people who drive drunk, have unsafe sex, operate their boats recklessly and don't use seat belts, etc..

And that is AlmostThere's main point I believe – that even after educational campaigns and new laws and regulations, many people would still do stupid or illegal things. Just look how many backpackers still do illegal things even after listening to the wilderness permit spiel given out by a ranger for the umpteenth time. There's a large segment of the population out there that simply believes that rules don't apply to them and no amount of education would ever change that attitude that they hold.



Leave No Trace
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 12:03PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
Frank Furter
Quote
AlmostThere
Yeah, that won't work. But it's a nice thought.

People will do what people do. "Those rules/railings/signs/restrictions don't apply to me. I'm a special little flower and so is my dog, who hikes with me everywhere. I don't go without my dog!"

History suggests differently. I can recall the before and after of many behavior education campaigns: drunk driving, introduction of seat belts and graduated driver's licenses, safe sex campaigns, hunter and boater safety courses etc. . Red Cross swimming education and water safety programs must have certainly prevented thousands of drownings. The warnings and patient advisories that come attached to prescription drugs may not be read by everyone, but occasionally a complication is avoided by the information provided.

There are gradations of behavior from conscientiously circumspect to wantonly anarchistic. The goal is to capture the attention and change the behavior of those who just are not focused on the potential dangers or do not have adequate skills . Most people spontaneously put on seat belts in vehicles now, not because the "common man" has suddenly become more responsible, but because seat belt use has become integral to riding in a vehicle-- socially appropriate and with systemic reminders and legal sanctions.

So how does history suggests differently that what AlmostThere stated?

What you just pointed out did not refute AlmostThere's main point: that there will always be people who believe that rules and regulations don't apply to them. Even with all the examples that you cited: drunk driving, safe sex, hunter & boater safety, seat belts law, there are still many people who drive drunk, have unsafe sex, operate their boats recklessly and don't use seat belts, etc..

And that is AlmostThere's main point I believe – that even after educational campaigns and new laws and regulations, many people would still do stupid or illegal things. Just look how many backpackers still do illegal things even after listening to the wilderness permit spiel given out by a ranger for the umpteenth time. There's a large segment of the population out there that simply believes that rules don't apply to them and no amount of education would ever change that attitude that they hold.

One can take a helpless/hopeless and fatalistic view of public health issues and, because some people resist behavior changes, then conclude that NO effort should be made to provide a change in attitude and knowledge. Typically, and historically, whenever targeted public health educations are initiated, there is a vocal opposition from those who think the problem is either one of individual choice or that there will always be some that will never change behavior. This attitude is misinformed. For example, just because some people continue to smoke does not diminish the value of anti-smoking interventions. We are currently seeing this problem in evolution with the concern about high calorie "junk" food and obesity. Most people unfamiliar with the problem think that this is just an individual choice, not an issue that could benefit from education or systemic changes. Outdoor skills may not be high on the priorities we have as a society, but I suspect that there is room for improvement.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 01:03PM
Quote
Frank Furter
Outdoor skills may not be high on the priorities we have as a society, but I suspect that there is room for improvement.

Of course there's room for improvement. That's why in a previous thread I suggested that it would be a great idea if some outdoor organizations, like the Sierra Club, could initiate an educational outreach program open to the public at large, to help educate the public at large about outdoor wilderness skills. I also previously mentioned that these organizations like the Sierra Club could also visit schools to spend an hour or two of class time teaching wilderness skills to public school children too.

I doubt that government at large has the time nor inclination to fund such a program, but there's no reason why a private organization like the Sierra Club couldn't help lead the way, just like how the Red Cross led the way in regards to swimming safety programs.



Leave No Trace
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 04:35PM
Unfortunately, the Sierra Club is one of the biggest violators of back country regulations, especially when traveling in large groups. Examples: Camping too close to water sources or trails plus open fires above 9,600' were two violations I observed. Also, while not specifically a violation, I can not condone a large group setting up camp in one location above 10K, basically taking it over, and using it as a 5-day bivouac for day hikes from that point. Furthermore, all their junk was toted in and out by the TM Stables. This is not what I would expect from such a "revered" organization. They have lots of high and mighty idealism but come up short in actual practice.
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 05:40PM
Quote
tomdisco

Unfortunately, the Sierra Club is one of the biggest violators of back country regulations, especially when traveling in large groups. Examples: Camping too close to water sources or trails plus open fires above 9,600' were two violations I observed. Also, while not specifically a violation, I can not condone a large group setting up camp in one location above 10K, basically taking it over, and using it as a 5-day bivouac for day hikes from that point. Furthermore, all their junk was toted in and out by the TM Stables. This is not what I would expect from such a "revered" organization. They have lots of high and mighty idealism but come up short in actual practice.

But the Sierra Club still preaches a good game. (Do as I say, not as I do.)

So for their outreach programs to the public, all they need to do is talk the talk. (They really don't need to follow through in their actions while backpacking in the Sierra, though that would be really nice.)



Leave No Trace
avatar Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 05:00PM
Quote
plawrence

I doubt that government at large has the time nor inclination to fund such a program, but there's no reason why a private organization like the Sierra Club couldn't help lead the way, just like how the Red Cross led the way in regards to swimming safety programs.

If you read my original suggestion at the top of this thread, my point was that the government is spending a lot of effort already within the parks. My point is that the effort is misguided. Personally, I don't think it is very useful for experts in law enforcement, wildlife, history, geology, and biology to be spending time trying to educate people about the basics of outdoor etiquette and behavior. My suggestion is to raise the bar a little and change our expectation that every day visitor should be able to go almost everywhere in the parks without demonstrating the slightest level of basic information and be restrained only by a few signs or guard rails.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/03/2011 05:00PM by Frank Furter.
Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 05:15PM
Quote
Frank Furter
My suggestion is to raise the bar a little and change our expectation that every day visitor should be able to go almost everywhere in the parks without demonstrating the slightest level of basic information and be restrained only by a few signs or guard rails.

I'm thinking people aren't as ignorant as you think they are. A vast portion of the residents of California don't give a rip about the rules and make no apologies for it.

The real problem is getting people to stop breaking them.
Re: Hiking Permit or License
August 03, 2011 02:54PM
Quote
Frank Furter


One can take a helpless/hopeless and fatalistic view of public health issues and, because some people resist behavior changes, then conclude that NO effort should be made to provide a change in attitude and knowledge. Typically, and historically, whenever targeted public health educations are initiated, there is a vocal opposition from those who think the problem is either one of individual choice or that there will always be some that will never change behavior. This attitude is misinformed. For example, just because some people continue to smoke does not diminish the value of anti-smoking interventions. We are currently seeing this problem in evolution with the concern about high calorie "junk" food and obesity. Most people unfamiliar with the problem think that this is just an individual choice, not an issue that could benefit from education or systemic changes. Outdoor skills may not be high on the priorities we have as a society, but I suspect that there is room for improvement.

If I were at all of the opinion that it is helpless/hopeless to expect change, I would not be in substance abuse treatment working with the most entrenched hardcore kinds of addicts.

My observation is based solidly in experience in the outdoors - there are lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of people who are "redneck" (my extended family among them) in their base assumption that if it's possible, it's okay. Liberalism be durned, it's our god given right to buck the gov'mint and do as we dang well please, burn the plastic rings from our beer cans, throw trash in the fire, chop up stuff (this is pretty much what you do when you're a redneck kid - seriously, choppin' up stuff is right up there with tweet bangin', the random shooting of songbirds with a bb gun - I was shooting stuff and chopping stuff before I got to sixth grade), and pitching bait into waterways designated for artificial lures only and leaving the empty salmon egg jar on the shore.

Your thinking that I am not concerned, or somehow fatalistic, is misguided. I am quite vocal on the topic of Leave No Trace and also on wilderness safety, as the more than thousand folks in my hiking group can attest to. What I am is a realist - you ain't gonna reach some people. I changed my opinion all on my own because I love the outdoors and didn't like what other folks were doing to my favorite places, thanks very much, and y'all judgmental types had nothin' to do with it. And I'm with you fighting and struggling to hammer it into their heads with limited success, which is how we wind up with $5,000 fines for letting a bear get your food (which is my first point made with certain folks I know will be reactive in the opposite direction were I to take the tactic of "it kills bears." F* the bears, I ain't carryin' the dam' barrel! is going to be the response to that).
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