Post subject: PSA: Are you ready to pay to tour the Wasatch?
Posted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:29 pm
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:10 pm Posts: 1433 Location: UT
Sorry this is a cross post from teletips, but it is a must read....
MGK is posting this as a public service, The owners of land in the Wasatch are demanding that backcountry skiers be charged a tax:
Quote: 30 November, 2010 SO Forest Service Office Intermountain Forest Service Supervisor Harv Forsgren Forest Service, USDA 8236 Federal Building 125 South State Street Salt Lake City, Utah 84138 Tel. 801-236-3400 Fax. 801-524-3172
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache Forest Service Supervisor Brain Ferebee 324 25th Street Ogden, Utah 84401 Tel. 801-625-5306 (Ogden Regional Office 4) Fax. 801-625-5359 Forest Service Legal Council Ken Paur 507 25th Street Ogden, Utah 84401 Tel. 801-625-5112 (Ogden Ranger District) Fax. 801-625-5914
RE: PETITION FOR EQUAL SKI TAXATION (Tri-Canyon backcountry Forest Service ski permit fees) by private land owners to require Forest Service permits for all backcountry skiers in Tricanyon area (Big Cottonwood Canyon, Millcreek Canyon, and Little Cottonwood Canyon), to perform Forest Service's backcountry avalanche control responsibilities, and to get a fresh Salt Lake District Ranger
Dear Forest Supervisor Harv Forsgren,
As you know, there has been years of conflict between Cardiff Fork landowners and backcountry skiers in the Cardiff bowl area of Big Cottonwood Canyon. We would like to propose a long term solution.
We would like the Forest Service to require permits for skiers using Forest Service property in the Tricanyon area (Tri-canyon backcountry ski permit). A proposed fee schedule of $3 per day or $300 per season could generate an additional $100,000 with just 350 season permits. That's a 10% increase in the total Forest Service ski fees collected in Utah from backcountry ski users who have heretofore been non-payers. The permits would be available only to those who have acknowledged the private land inholdings of the backcountry ski permit area, have been supplied information about the boundaries of these inholdings, and sign a liability waiver in favor of the Forest Service, State, County, and private landowners. We believe that this simple step would provide a permanent solution to the recurrent and sometimes severe conflict that occurs in this area.
Silver Fork, Cardiff Fork, and Day's Fork offer world renowned backcountry skiing. Myself, Kevin Tolton, Cyle Buxton and others are private land owners in Cardiff Fork and Day's Fork.
We lease our land to Wasatch Powderbirds. Our lease rates are devalued by the Forest Service artificial heli-skiing ban on Sundays and Mondays. The Forest Service has for many years, participated in a pattern of harassing private canyon property owners in an attempt to get their land for cheap. In many cases, the Forest Service has teamed up with dubious environmental groups like Salt Lake City Public Utilities. As part of this scheme the Forest Service has neglected and failed to perform key Forest Service land management responsibilities essential in providing backcountry user safety. For example, the Forest Service has failed to conduct thorough land title research which would lead to proper cadastral surveys to be able to accurately define and mark Private Property-Forest Service boundaries.
This in turn has led to needless conflicts between private canyon land owners and backcountry users who are intentionally un-informed or mis-informed about the demarcation between private and public lands. The Forest Service has also failed to conduct the legally required title research specified by the Forest Service Manual which would show the valid, legal, existing rights-of-way to private property inholdings. In the case of Cardiff Fork, we have private property surrounded by a Forest Service inholding. This failure by the Forest Service has lead to public land user conflicts with private canyon land owners and contention that has also put the Forest Service in a position of violating its own regulations. The current policy of deferring to the “pure” skiers has put local environmental politics over public safety.
The Forest Service is also failing to provide basic avalanche control work on heavily used backcountry Forest Service land. Similarly, the Forest Service has failed in its public safety mission by turning a blind eye to known dangers created by one group of “pure” skiers on other paying groups of skiers competing to use the same avalanche-prone area. The Forest Service also turns a deaf ear to common sense solutions, practical input, and well reasoned logic from private land owners (the main stake holders) who are intentionally excluded from the formulation of public land use policy. The Forest Service must be fully cognizant of all facets of public safety on public land which can only be accomplished with greater regulation of the backcountry community. More regulation will protect the watershed and safety of all canyon users.
Who is up there? How many people? What are they doing? Where are they? Are they in any dangerous conflict with each other by the current un-regulated backcountry skiers? Is one group positioned in a way which puts another group at a greater avalanche hazard risk?
The Forest Service cannot provide effective oversight without requiring permits of all users including the “pure” skiers.
Clearly, the Sunday and Monday heli-skiing ban in the Cardiff and Day's Fork canyons is not based on real environmental issues, but a form of Forest Service payback to the backcountry loud crowd's endless protests and environmental rants. This is a form of Forest Service appeasement which unjustly rewards the squeaky wheel, loud mouth trespassers.
It is not wise to ban Wasatch Powerbirds from heli-skiing on Sundays and Mondays for the following reasons:
• The Tri-Canyon Area first emergency responder is more often than not Wastach Powerbirds. On the basis of public safety alone there should be no Sunday and Monday ban. Having a helicopter withing minutes of one of Utah's most dangerous and most congested winter canyons is a life saving benefit. The current Forest Service heli-skiing policy fails to protect the public while promoting the personal rights of a few back county skiers (the elite “pure” skiers who earn their powder runs”) over the public safety of the many canyon users. The current Sunday and Monday ban may cost a life or limb some day while providing no off setting public benefit. Political appeasement of environmental activists is not a public benefit.
• Utah's ski customers (international, out-of-sate, and in-state) have limited windows to enjoy Utah's famous powder. Imagine an international skier from France taking the non-stop flight from Paris to Salt Lake City arriving on Saturday being told, “No heli-skiing for you in the world famous Cardiff Bowl on Sunday and Monday. Only “pure” skiers are allowed on Sundays and Mondays.” This is not good customer service. There is no reasonable basis to close our canyon on Sundays and Mondays to our lessee – Wasatch Powerbirds.
• Unequal treatment of Utah Heli-skiing companies as compared to other Heli-sking companies operating on United States Forest Service land. It's unlikely the Forest Service Heli-skiing permits ban Sundays and Mondays in Colorado.
• The artificial Sunday and Monday ban promotes a sense entitlement to Save Our Canyons, Salt Lake City Public Utilities (ski “purists”), and other so-called “pure” skiers that characterize their brand of skiing (free loader skiing on Forest Service and private property) as the most “pure” type of skiing preferred by the federal government (Forest Service). The granting of deferential and preferential treatment of one style of access (skinning/hiking) over another style of access (lift assisted, snowmobile assisted, helicopter assisted) by the federal government contradicts federal policies of equal treatment. This is arrogance not supported by any federal law. This un-American and divisive Forest Service policy of un-equal treatment in Utah should stop. The current policy is most likely illegal. It's all about the “powpow,” the “cold smoke,” and “who gets first turns.”
• The “pure” skiers who name call “paying” skiers “powderturds, “powderthugs,” “or “slacker recreationists” are criminally trespassing on our heavily posted private lands. The lack of Forest Service permits for backcountry skiers in the non-wilderness designated Wasatch Mountains encourages criminal trespass on our lands, and the hoarding of premium “powpow,” “cold smoke,” and “first turns” by free loaders and free basers (bowl hoarders).
• Lawsuits and legal liability. Recently, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that the State of Utah could not hide behind the “Government Immunity Act.” The Forest Service is being actively sued for $2 Million in Federal Court for not posting bear warning signs.1 A boy was killed by a bear in American Fork Canyon. The parents sued. It looks like the State and/or Forest Service may be on the hook for big bucks. Where are the avalanche hazard waring signs in the Cardiff bowl? Where are the permits with liability waivers to protect the Forest Service, State, County, and private land owners?
• Preventing one $2 million liability claim for one young “pure” skier's death due to misreading snow bomb craters as safe and avalanche clear would be well worth requiring ski permits in designated high avalanche skied areas like the Tri-Canyon area. When “dawn patrolers” or “pure” skiers see the snow bomb craters left by Wasatch Powderbirds, they may falsely assume the area is safe when it fact it is not. If they kill themselves, of course, it will be all of our faults.
We will all be sued even though our land is posted, “Private Property – No Trespassing.” The so-called “powderturds,” and “slacker recreationists” help pay millions of dollars in Forest Service ski taxes to the Forest Service. (On a side note: Some view Forest Ski taxes as a double tax upon the public. Moreover, the Forest Service does nothing to improve or maintain ski services.) Those that insult and demean Utah's paying ski customers ironically are the free loaders who not only pay nothing for skiing but increase the operating costs of the Forest Service, Utah's ski resorts, and private property owners with frivolous and meritless environmental impact studies and demands.
These “pure” skiers have signed no liability waivers like paying ski customers do. These “pure” free loading skiers hog the best ski areas including key ridge top landing points for heli-skiers. A lot of the hogged ridge tops are private property which the “pure” free loading skiers trespass on . On the basis of legal liability and our litigious society (Utah has about 10,000 lawyers), all skiers in high avalanche areas must sign a liability waiver on a Forest Service Special Use Permit.
Donut Falls was closed by the private owner because legal liability to the owner, Sierra Partners.
The paying ski customers are kicked off Forest Service land not only on Sundays and Mondays by the free loading “pure” skiers, by these same backcountry “powpow” poachers who also hog the paying permit areas (including all private property “powpow” stashes) on the basis of environmental activism which is a facade for economic racism. Economic racism is class hatred where the more carbon based access backcountry skiers are derided and excluded by the so-called lesser carbon based access backcountry “pure” skiers. These “pure” skiers drive most of the way up the canyon in their carbon mobiles and walk (skinning) part of the way to justify their hoarding of the “powpow.” This is their “purer” form of “the natural experience” which is nothing more than a super brand of environmental piety which puts pine cones over people and junk science over jobs.
This special brand of environmentalism is used to justify criminal trespass and vandalization of private property in the canyons. Private roads are vandalized. Boulders and trees are placed on private roads. A gate was torn down. A bridge was torn out. Cameras were torn down and stolen. If you are trespassing and get photographed, then “just steal the camera.” While trespass is serious, stealing private surveillance equipment is even more serious. Yelling, screaming expletives and flipping off heated exchanges (F-bombs) that almost results in physical altercations and violence, (F-bomb invectives) directed at the private, tax paying, law abiding land owner by these free loading “pure” skiers is not uncommon, but crosses the line of civility. The so-called “pure” skiers are wrongfully using selected Forest Service employees to pressure private land owners off their lands by failing to research and know federal law ( Forest Service Manual).
Instead of “Don't ask. Don't tell,” selected Forest Service employees practice, “I don't know. I can't tell” which intentionally confuses the law to change the administration of the law which is nothing more than employees legislating from their rangers desks instead of Congress. Somehow the so-called personal rights of environmental activists trump the personal rights including the recorded private property rights of others. This is a break down of our rule of law society. How can perceived personal rights to ski “the natural way” of non-land owners be superior to the personal rights and private property rights of land owners? backcountry trespassers are putting private property land owners' life and property at risk, because of the Forest Service's lack of effective resource management allowing a few perceived personal rights and personal political agendas established by some superior type of ski access to trump private property rights of canyons land owners.
Salt Lake City Public Utilities has teamed up with the Forest Service acting in concert to encourage user conflicts especially between canyon land owners and the trespassing public hoping to lead them on a legal collision course pitting property rights against perceived personal rights. Activist Forest Service employees fail to follow the law, make up new laws, mis-apply the law or don't even know what the law in the first place. Even where the Forest Service Manual requires a Forest Service lawyer's legal opinion, no opinion is asked for. If a legal opinion is contrary to the employee's opinion, then the public is told it's an old opinion, or the old administrator was misinformed, acting without legal authority, or was just plain wrong.
Salt Lake City's special brand of environmental activism is merely their special tool to redistribute the State's wealth and power to Salt Lake City coffers and un-elected, and unaccountable environmental activist employees.
We strongly recommend the the Forest Service require ski permits with liability waivers for the Tri-Canyon high avalanche area 1) to protect the backcountry skiers' safety, 2) to protect private propertyrights, and 3) to protect the Forest Service, State, County, and private land owners from liability lawsuits. The Tri-Canyon ski permit with liability waiver can be a nominal $3 per day fee like daily canyon entry frees and $300 per ski season pass. The Forest Service needs to control the ski activity in known high hazard avalanche areas which creates massive liabilities and increases the burden of trespass and legal liability on us (the private property owners).
Because the Forest Service allows and encourages skiers on Forest Service land abutting ours, it bringspublic traffic who don't respect our private rights nor have entered into ski liability waivers to protect Forest Service and us from liability get-rich-quick lawsuits.
The Tri-Canyon area is a unique, high hazard, highly used avalanche control area deploying Howitzer 105mm explosives, 5 pound high explosive charges (bombs). Wasatch Powderbirds is licensed to use the new Daisy Bell avalanche control device. The Forest Service should co-ordinate a comprehensive avalanche control which would include permits for the backcountry skiers. The backcountry skiers must pay their fair share of avalanche control, search and rescue, and Forest Service administrative oversight costs to regulate, enforce regulations, and maintain public safety. These “pure” skiers are deluded into believing the special brand of ski access that is provided by the Forest Service, State, County, and private land owners (tax payers) is free (has no costs). It's time for these “pure” skiers to be included in the cost ski tax matrix.
Wasatch Powerbirds Monday and Sunday restriction, and requirement to post travel plans in advance cuts into their profits which in turn increases public search and rescue costs.
Please consider removing the Sunday and Monday ban, and advance travel plan notice.
Please help us protect the Forest Service resources (public land) and our resources (private land) by strengthening backcountry ski regulation to require a Tri-Canyon permit (nominal fee $3 per day/ $300 per season) with liability waivers for skiing in the known dangerous Tri-Canyon area to limit future liability lawsuits against the Forest Service and us (private property owners).
According to Wasatch Canyons Tomorrow question: “What approach should the County take in regulating land use in the canyons?” “62% “ responded “Strengthen regulations.”2 Strengthening the back county ski regulations to include the free loading backcountry skiers is in line with public sentiment regarding the Tri-canyon area.
The Forest Service has the primary duty to provide for avalanche control and safety in the backcountry.
While others like UDOT, and ski resorts (Alta, Snowbird) perform avalanche control on within their jurisdictions, this does not abrogate the Forest Service's primary responsibility for safety on Forest Service lands used by backcountry skiers. The Forest Service should be doing their own avalanche control.
It's time to put people over pine cones, jobs over junk science. Let's take the free out of free loading backcountry skiers in high avalanche hazard areas like the Tri-Canyon Area. It's time for equal treatment and equal ski taxation of backcountry skiers in the Tri-Canyon Area.
Sincerely, Cardiff Canyon Private Land Owners – Friends of Cardiff Canyon Kevin Tolton (801-608-3456) Emily Tolton Evan Johnson (801-369-3400) Cyle Buxton (801-910-3399) Kelli Buxton Jim Garside (801-471-6469) Leslie arside Wayne Crawford (801-231-3531) Christine Crawford Judd Macintosh Debbie Macintosh John Anderson Paul Southam Josey Southam
P.S. If in fact, Salt Lake City were serious about homeland security, public safety, water quality, and jobs, Salt Lake City would tear down the Big Cottonwood Water Treatment Plant and replace its meager 23,000 acre-feet of usable water from Big Cottonwood Creek with a series of wells in the creek itself. The cost to pump ($62.50 per acre-foot) this well water is equal to the cost ($62.50 per acre-foot) to treat the surface water. 31,000 acre-feet of Big Cottonwood Creek's 54,000 acre-feet (57%) runs to waste to the Great Salt Lake to become 12 times saltier than sea water.
A reasonable person would prefer to drink non-chemicalized well water filtered through 500 feet of earth instead of surface water chemicalized at an old plant open to terrorist mischief, hazard waste spills, decomposing plant and animal water, and human error.
The main reason the treatment plant will not be replaced for the public good is that Salt Lake City would loose control of its ability to enforce Salt Lake City's special brand of environmentalism on the rest of us. Remember the Legacy Highway debacle which cost Utah an extra $380 million, a less safe I-15 due to banning big rigs on Legacy Highway, an inferior road due to the requirement of asphalt instead of concrete?
Post subject: Re: PSA: Are you ready to pay to tour the Wasatch?
Posted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:03 pm
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:05 pm Posts: 522
Wow, that reads more like a rant than a serious petition. Fuck those guys.
In Colorado we do have pay to play areas for example, Vail Pass in my neck of the woods. It is $6 a day or $40 for a season pass. That is a long way from $300. There are also services provided- groomed trails (lots of flat approach skins) and enforcement of sled and human powered segregation rules. It works, but I doubt that was framed in such a idiotic ranting way when proposed.
This is more of a 'those damn hippies smoke weed and are tresspassin' on my land, and I want more money from the powderturds and they won't give it to me unless we keep those freeloaders out!'
Post subject: Re: PSA: Are you ready to pay to tour the Wasatch?
Posted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:43 pm
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:10 pm Posts: 1433 Location: UT
I like the Colorado model...
Similarly I pay $40 a year to go into MillCreek Canyon as much as I like and it doesn't bother me at all. (apparently the author of the letter has never actually been to MillCreek, although he mentions it in his rant)...
Shit I'd pay just to take the wind out his sails... I'm fairly confident he is of the ilk that wants to tell everyone else what they can and cannot do while simultaneously whining incessantly about how "their" rights are being taken away and "all the land is being locked up"...
The irony of this douche bags rant is that with few exceptions outside of military test ranges and public works facilities, the only people locking up land are private land owners (him) and corporations...
This group, and at least one other individual who wasn't listed in the letter, is butt-hurt because their various plans for developing a hunting/sledding/ski lodge/resort in Cardiff have been rejected in the past. Some of them bought parcels in the area several years ago expecting to make some coin but later realized that their parcels with no water rights and are damn near worthless (with the exception of one family's parcels, they happen to be the most vocal, too). Also, some of them have gotten into legal trouble in the past over such things as highmarking/sledding on areas not approved in their conditional use permits and un-approved road construction in Days Fork.
I've been harrassed by one particular person listed in the letter. He threatened to have me ticketed for trespassing as I rode through his father's land. He called the sheriffs and made various threats. As I approached the BCC highway I noted the presence of 2 or 3 deputies who were in the process of harassing a skier. I had already shouldered my "skis" and walked right by the deputies and skier with no issues. I'm pretty sure the skier received a trespassing ticket based on the conversation I overheard.
I would consider avoiding the area on Saturdays unless you plan on exiting via Mill B or Mineral. These dudes aren't always out there, but when they are they are not very pleasant to deal with.
FWIW We all technically do a lot of trespassing while touring in Cardiff.
That is a direct threat to life and if the authorities won't do anything there's always the "Blanket Party" option! Not hard to follow, and find out where someone lives when they are towing an enormous trailer, etc... The people in that touring party are far better pacifists than I