It’s Time to Comment
The BLM is charged with protecting our public lands for free access and use. This is to make it possible for all American citizens to visit all BLM-administered land free of charge, so that access is not restricted only to those who can afford to pay for it.
The BLM is asking for public comment on its plan to allow the state of Colorado a long-term lease on its Salida East dispersed campground area, so that the state will be able to charge fees and use them to supposedly upgrade the grounds and enforce policies. The BLM lacks the ability to carry out enforcement on its own, and claims that some vegetation has been damaged, that some campers have overshot the 14-day stay limit, and that the area is noted for some drug and alcohol abuse.
That is unfortunate, but I feel that allowing Colorado to effectively commercialize access to BLM land goes directly against its mission. Leasing Salida East is one more domino that can eventually lead to any and all BLM (our) land requiring fees to park on, hike on, and camp on. “They can’t do that” means little when they take action to do it, and we stay silent.
You can read the details at: http://tinyurl.com/oga2hfl
I have plagiarized the following from an email sent to me from Escapees:
“Note that the state charges fees in areas like this not only for
camping, but also for day use parking and walking to the river. BLM
seems to find it easier to get money from leases to states for such
land (which the states pay for by collecting fees from the public that
BLM is not themselves allowed to charge), than to do the job they are
commissioned to do to protect our public lands for free public access
“Probably the last line of the article is the most important: ‘BLM will
accept public comment on the proposed lease until Nov. 2. Comments can
be submitted to Melissa Garcia at 719-269-8724 or by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org with “Salida East” in the subject line.’
Especially if you have enjoyed this free camping area in the past, or
if you have been thinking about doing so in the future, please let
your thoughts be known by email to the address above. Remember –
polite, thoughtful comments are most likely to be seriously
considered. Also please spread the word to other RVing friends who are
not Day’s End Directory subscribers.”
Lazy and apathetic as I am, I have actually taken the five minutes necessary to send an email with my feelings on the matter and a request that they not lease that land. I think such matters go beyond whether we have stayed there or ever plan to. It’s about stopping a “next phase” of an encroachment of our free access to public lands that will spread further until large sections are gone. As the BLM is required to ask for public comment and take it into consideration for such decisions, it pays to voice up now, rather than hunker down in some defeatist or cynical silence, which merely helps these errors succeed. I urge you to consider taking a few minutes not to email a rant, but to thoughtfully and politely remind them of their primary reason for being. They have asked for your comment, and without it, they will make their decision and carry out their plan. It’s your choice whether to participate in governing our land, or allowing someone else to make the decisions for us! If you ever hope to one day get in a rig and see this land of ours without going broke, this is your time to have your say.
Doug, Thanks for the heads-up on this issue. I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise since I stay on the east coast. But, I feel its a slippery slope to “improve” more and more of our wild and free lands. Once its gone, its gone. Not to mention that $224 for 2 weeks would cost more than 1/3 of my SS. Can’t be done.
PS, I changed my name from PamP to ksmofl
Getting notorious, are we Pam? 😉 I simply consider that changing “wild and free” into “wild for fee” is a major turnabout from the original intent of making Federal lands permanently available to all. The new intent is to limit usage to vacationers who will be encouraged by the costs to move on to somewhere else after a few days. And as you rightly point out, if that somewhere else charges fees too, it becomes an unworkable discrimination against low-income Americans as well as those living on a fixed income. I’ve read many comments in other places that effectively say, “too bad, so sad”, but they forget that bad things can happen to good people, and that one day, they may well find themselves in a similar position. That’s one reason that I’m taking action to add a more touring-oriented rig. I want to “see the USA” while it is still financially possible for me to do so, and I don’t want that time frame to be shortened by the machinations of governmental agencies out for a buck.
I live in the State of Washington. One of the BLM land campgrounds is now managed by the State Campgrounds. Not only have the facilities been improved, but the fees raised AND it is now part of the reservation system limiting access to low income individuals. (Washington has some of the highest State Campground Fees in the Nation.) It has become nearly impossible to camp for more than a few days due to overuse of campgrounds on weekend via reservations. In addition many of the BLM lands require a day use fee ($35 a year, $10 per day, camping fees are additional). Access to wild nature needs to be preserved. I will definitely do my part.
Thank you, Karen. Excellent first-hand account! When I see that a campground has a reservation system, I know not to bother investigating further. I understand about needing to accommodate weekenders in heavily-used sites and take advantage of that to pump up revenues, but when that bleeds over into dispersed camping areas, it’s a concern. But as you witness, it’s all public land, much of which is kept unaffordable for people who want to camp more than a few weekends a year.
Thank you for bringing this matter up. I agree with your opinions here. You wanted to stay focussed, and not digress.
So I am succumbing to temptation in mentioning that the biggest erosion in free access to public lands occurs when a mere executive order from a president creates a gigantic national monument. It will soon be “upgraded” to camping only in organized campgrounds; then the next upgrade will be wheelchair-accessible toilets, water, gravel or pavement, a visitor’s center, a gift shop, ranger-led nature sermons, and for the grand finale: a paved automobile loop, which puts it on the “front cover” of tourism industry propaganda. Then in a few years, the national monument will be converted into a national park, with more crowds, fees, and restrictions.
The average tourist/vacationer will be happy with these “upgrades.” They only have a few days per year of vacation. A week of fees doesn’t add up to one night at a touristy motel.
I would like to dismiss your comment as cynical, but I find it difficult to do that, since I agree! It’s all too easy to “improve” things with just one tier of society in mind. But perhaps you forgot about the busses and trams that will be the only vehicles authorized to be on that paved loop. I suspect Teddy Roosevelt would spin…
I commented at your link. I suggested that charging a fee for these areas would encourage more of us to park on their city streets. I hope that raises a few eyebrows and maybe opens a few minds to consider unintended consequences.
Well, that’s an interesting argument. Makes me wonder if the nearest towns have already outlawed sleeping in one’s vehicle, etc. Thank you for taking action!
Love it, hahaha!
I sent an email. It wont be surprising to see things like this escalate. No fiat currency has ever survived.
Just so, Ron.
Thanks for letting us know! I have sent an email and I have also shared your post on a couple of Facebook pages. Hopefully we can get enough of a response that we will stop this in its tracks!
Outstanding, Rachel! Thanks
Done deal, thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention. I was sad, some years back, to have missed out on homesteading. Public lands now ARE (will be soon) my home. Can’t decide whether to cry, punch somebody in the nose, or hope for legislative protections. None of these give me much hope.
“When in danger or in doubt, Run in circles, scream and shout.” –H. Woulk
E): All of the above.