Sunday, August 06, 2017

Everglades Fee Proposal: Just Plain Wrong ... by gimleteye

Clyde Butcher, Ochopee
A special user tax for our national park, the Everglades, seems just wrong, even if you are not an outdoor enthusiast. Never mind kayakers. Our national park system represents the best of America: the willingness to make sacrifices today, including our tax dollars, so future generations can appreciate God's gifts of nature without any kind of intermediary interpretation. (Hint: nature is not a golf course.)

Our national parks tell Americans, irrespective of race, creed, or income: this is what we inherited (or seized, as the case may be) and this is what we hold in trust for you. Then again, the Trump administration and Department of Interior are outright hostile to public resources like national parks.

Americans broke sweat and bled to create and to protect our crown jewels. That doesn't matter to the Trump wrecking crew, but it should -- to you.

From: Florida Bay Outfitters []
Sent: Thursday, August 03, 2017 11:25 PM
Subject: Attention All Paddlers! Everglades Fee Proposal

Dear Paddlers,

The Everglades National Park has sent out a proposal for usage fees and we find it to be quite unfriendly to the paddling community especially here in the Keys. The boating community in general is being targeted for fees that seem somewhat unfair especially since the Everglades National Park has no services to offer in the Keys. They have no boat ramp, parking areas or any access to the public whatsoever. There are upcoming meetings that you should be aware of and if you can, please attend or participate by contacting the Park Service. At Florida Bay Outfitters we are all for protecting our parks and our environment and willing to pay to do so, but fees and use need to be regulated in fairness in order to protect the resources. Sorry for bringing this out at such short notice. Here are some of our concerns...   

1) A vehicle driving in the main entrance is $30 (good for 7 days). It doesn't say if there is an additional charge per person. So, if there are 4 people in the car their cost is $7.50 each. If you come down to Florida Bay Outfitters and you launch your kayaks with 4 friends and your plan is to cross over the intracoastal waterway 1/3 mile out from our beach, your cost will be $15 a person ($60 total) beginning Oct 2018. This January your cost is $12 per person. Under age 16 is free. (good for 7 days). Most recreational paddlers don't generally get to far to begin with and being the most environmentally compatible form of vessel, user fees from this end of the park is quite frankly upsurd. The park should stick with overnight wilderness camping fees only for paddlers unless of course the park can show us overuse/abuse by human powered vessels. We doubt they could. No paddler fees from the Florida Keys!  

2) A yearly pass is fair for those who live here but that is just bringing in revenue for the park and does not having anything to do with controlling numbers to protect against overcrowding/abuse. There are limits for how many people can camp in designated areas but there is no limits on how many people can visit those places in a day. Like everywhere things are getting overcrowded and concerns on limits should be the priority in order to protect the environment and give the people who are participating in the wild an actual wilderness experience. A users fee may curb some of the overuse but that will be short lived as we see more visitors and more full time residents taking place. So a reservation plan of some sort may need to be implemented, along with a fair day use fee. 
3) Again the Everglades National Park has zero places for you to launch or access the park. You will either have to own property or use access through businesses. There are some access points owned by the local government but nothing from the federal government. Kind of like taxation without representation.
4) The intra coastal waterway runs along the entire coast of the Everglades National Park. Do cruisers have to pay up if they decide to anchor up for a break, lunch, a swim or for foul weather? We are talking Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico here. The intracoastal waterway was designed and made for safe passage. Do boaters passing by need to pay an entrance fee to get fuel in Flamingo? Perhaps a somewhat more reasonable boundary could be developed for boating safely and local boating activity that don't interfere with watching the sunset with friends from their vessels, in their own backyards (Blackwater Sound for example) and other areas that are not of critical concern. And just for reminders, the National Parks are paid for by all of us tax payers to begin with.
Thank You for your support
Frank & Monica Woll

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