San Gabriel Valley Tribune


San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Article Published: Tuesday, September 16, 2003

ARTICLES IN THIS SECTION

9/14/2003
- Under Siege
- Cartels growing pot in forest
- Forest at crossoads over public use
- Lake not so crystal
- Fire threat still high, officials say
- Facing Extinction
9/15/2003
- Masses and Messes
- A foul problem: garbage
- Groups spread blame for forest damage
- Forest dwellers have created their share of problems
9/16/2003
- 'Static' budget hinders forest
- Bad roads hinder vistor, fire vehicle access
- Adventure Pass raises funds, eyebrows
9/17/2003
- Saving the forest a tall task

SPECIAL REPORT: ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST

Adventure Pass raises funds, eyebrows

By Diana L. Roemer, Staff Writer

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST -- The U.S. Forest Service's Adventure Pass has been controversial from its inception. The pass, a required payment to park in the Angeles National Forest and three other forests in California was launched under a government program to test its worth in 1997.

The pass costs visitors $5 per day or $30 per year. Its primary purpose was to raise money to pay for damage to the forest. The agency found it hard to maintain facilities such as restrooms, campgrounds and trails. Pass money also was to be used for cleanup of trash and graffiti.

Forest Supervisor Jody Cook said money from the pass is important, despite criticism from those who say a fee on top of taxes is exorbitant.

"We are underfunded in recreation, no doubt, that's why the (Adventure) Pass is so important. The demands are high,' Cook said.

"In terms of visitor use, we probably get less money per visitor than other national forests get,' Cook said.

In 2001-02, the Angeles National Forest's budget was $28.9 million. About $4.8 million - $1 million from the Adventure Pass - was earmarked for recreation. The pass has raised between $613,000 and $1 million annually, for a total of $4.2 million since 1997.

Adventure Pass
It has paid for portable toilets, graffiti removal and bear-proof trash cans, forest officials said.

But a majority of those polled in a study conducted by Cal State San Bernardino said they saw no improvements in the forest. Only a fraction, about 14 percent, said the pass improved their recreational visit.

Scott Silver of the national nonprofit group Wild Wilderness lobbies against fees such as the Adventure Pass. He says they are motivated by profit.

"It will result in pay-to-play, like a Disneyland. Those who get to pay more will have more access," he said.

The program was recently vindicated by a government study that showed the agency is using money it collects from the program properly.

But longtime forest activist Dennis Rose said the forest is public land and access should be free. He called the pass "idiotic, a joke.'

"There's plenty of money there. They just squander it,' Rose said.


-- Angeles National Forest, by Roy Murphy, and The San Gabriels, by John W. Robinson contributed to this story. Diana L. Roemer can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2105, or by e-mail at diana.roemer@sgvn.com.

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