The La Plata Mountains as seen from above the author’s

Durango Bill's

Recreational Access Tax (the RAT)
(Fee Demo) Complaint

Beetle Bailey cartoon objecting to requests for money.

   The U. S. Forest Service is systematically imposing "User Fees" on anyone who wishes to visit our national forests. These fees typically average about $10 per day. In 2005 the federal government finally understood that “Fee Demo” was very unpopular with people who wanted to use our national forests. They changed the name to “Recreational Access Tax” (RAT) as an attempt to hide the fact that they are charging double fees (taxes plus the RAT) for access to lands that are suppose to belong to everyone.

   Expenses to maintain national forest land used to be part of the national budget, but congress and the executive branch have cut these funds as part of "eliminating waste". As a result the U. S. Forest Service has had to initiate user fees that are being imposed on anyone that would like to get away from the rat race (e.g. Road Rage) and see what the real world is like.

  The National Forests are similar to the Interstate (National) Highway System in that they are a national resource. If equality is to prevail, either all resources managed by the government should charge "user fees", or none of them should charge "user fees".

   If we are to have "user fees", then they should be applied equally. For example, toll booths should be put up on all interstate highways.

   The National Forest System is a responsibility of the entire nation. Congress and the president should accept financial responsibility to maintain our National Forests.

Oh, by the way...

Will the money collected be used for upkeep of the National Forests?
Answer:  (Hint) Where is the money coming from to pay the salaries of the staff diligently collecting the fees?

Final thoughts:

   1)  I have a Golden Age Passport which exempts me from RAT (Fee Demo) payments. Thus, I am not influenced by any personal financial reason.

  2)  I am not involved in any other protest action. Thus, I have no legal entanglement.

  3)  The Recreational Access Tax (Fee Demo) is economically inefficient as a large portion of the fees collected do not go to maintenance and upkeep of national forest facilities. The fees pay the salaries of the personnel collecting the fees.

  4)  The most efficient way to pay for national forest upkeep is through federal revenues which is the way it was done before the government abdicated its responsibility.

   Perhaps the Recreational Access Tax (Fee Demo) seems appropriate to Washington bureaucrats who are out of step with the real world, but the “RAT” is an added expense to many people that would like to enjoy our national heritage.

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