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Old 02-08-2019, 05:37 PM
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Default Vail Pass Fee Increase Proposal

Vail Pass Fee Increase Proposal

Why a fee increase? The Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area provides unique backcountry winter access to over 55,000 acres of motorized and non-motorized use as well as access to 6 backcountry huts, providing a winter experience for a variety of National Forest visitors. The Forest Service wants to continue to provide essential operational services at VPWRA that contribute to the unique and unparalleled backcountry experience. The White River National Forest has not increased recreation fees at the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area since 2005 and steady growth in visitation, rising costs for staffing and services, coupled with inflation, has prompted the Forest Service to propose a fee increase to continue to sustain this recreation opportunity into the future.

Fees pay for essential operational services that maintain the area such as parking lot plowing, grooming, ranger presence and informational services, emergency assistance, and signage and route maintenance. The Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area program has been operating at a deficit for the last three years and is projected to be operating at an estimated $60,000 deficit beginning in 2020. Without a fee increase, the ability to provide existing services is at risk.

Additionally, visitation has nearly doubled in the last 15 years from 16,726 visitors in the winter of 2002-2003 to 32,136 visitors in 2017-2018. Although growth in visitor use has added to annual fee collections, the additional visitation has been insufficient to offset steady increases in operational costs over the years. Additional visitation has created a need for more frequent grooming to maintain the same quality of trail surface, increased staff time to enforce travel zones and manage the Vail Pass trailhead parking lots, and increased need for materials such as maps, signs, winter equipment, route indicators and day passes. Grooming costs have also increased by over $35,000 annually in the past 3 winter seasons.

Fee Proposal Page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/whiteriver/feeproposals

Timeframe for outreach & details: We will be seeking public comment Feb. 7 – April 14 on this fee increase proposal. The Forest Service will be conducting extensive outreach via local press, on-site at Vail Pass and Camp Hale, and through social media.

How to comment: Members of the public may submit comments electronically at the above link beginning on Thursday 2/7/19, via mail, or in person at any VPWRA fee station location or at the Dillon/Eagle-Holy Cross and Leadville Ranger Stations.
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:01 PM
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I like I believe most don't have a problem with the fee, as long as it keeps areas open to snowmobile and multi use. I have a problem with the increase when these area start to limit and cut back motorized use. This is an area I grew up riding in.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by milehighassassin View Post
I like I believe most don't have a problem with the fee, as long as it keeps areas open to snowmobile and multi use. I have a problem with the increase when these area start to limit and cut back motorized use. This is an area I grew up riding in.
Upon further review I retract this statement. Those fees do not support anything except for the subsidization of the private businesses up there. Eliminate the fees, let the FS run it like they do everywhere else.
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:14 PM
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Upon further review I retract this statement. Those fees do not support anything except for the subsidization of the private businesses up there. Eliminate the fees, let the FS run it like they do everywhere else.
So what you are saying is that the grooming and lot plowing is handled by private contractors?

I would also argue that more USFS staffing isn't something I would be in favor of paying for. If they simplified the motorized/non motorized boundaries they wouldn't need all of the cops. It is like a checkerboard up there for a guy like me who doesn't know the area well...
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:28 PM
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So what you are saying is that the grooming and lot plowing is handled by private contractors?

I would also argue that more USFS staffing isn't something I would be in favor of paying for. If they simplified the motorized/non motorized boundaries they wouldn't need all of the cops. It is like a checkerboard up there for a guy like me who doesn't know the area well...
The Vail Pass Task Force received Colorado State Parks (administered by CSA) funds for grooming in the past. Then they seemed to struggle with working with CSA and left those funds on the table and abandon their groomer (also paid for by CSP funds). Now they want to increase the funds so that they have money to operate the way they want. It's a board made up of business owners in the area. A snowmobile guide/rental company, backcountry cat tours, etc.

Do not support the fee increase. Make your comments now. Don't give up the sledding areas, they are incredible once you get around the parking lot gapers. Make this group become efficient with the funds they already have. Several areas that are bigger than VP operate without daily fees. This is public land.
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:44 AM
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My experience is that everybody likes to fight over the trail grooming, regardless of the area. Bizarre though that they did not take advantage of the groomer and funds provided for the area by CSA. Seems that would help take the pressure off the funding end.

So it is all about control, imagine that. Sad that we just can't recreate in peace on public lands without these sorts of charades going on.

I will make an online comment of that option exists. Not my area but I hate to see such a popular one go down the tubes on you locals.
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:32 AM
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Grooming seems to be a big issue for VP. Despite the visitor numbers doubling, and hopefully the income from the trail fees too, they claim to still be short on the funds required to pay for grooming.
According to the public announcement, the grooming cost have increased by$35,000 per year. This is concerning because the trails are only groomed for approximately 4 months or 17 weeks per season. This means that the grooming costs have increased by about $2000 per week. Considering that the trails are only groomed about once a week, and poorly at that, I'm struggling to fathom that the cost of grooming has increased by essentially $2000 per day, or per groom.
I know that the VPTF contract with Mountain States Snow Cats which is out of Wyoming. In my opinion the grooming at VP sucks and is apparently very expensive. It really could use to be groomed at least twice a week.
I would like to see the folks at VP or the local snowmobile club buy or lease their own cat and be in control of their own grooming, instead of what they're doing now.
I would be ok with a fee increase if there was an increase in services/ grooming. Otherwise we're just giving more money to some guy in Wyoming to do a lousy job.
As a 20 year user of VP this is just my 2 cents anyway...
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Old 02-14-2019, 12:45 PM
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I'm curious how much money Nova Guides, the outfit in Red Cliff, and the Cat place all contribute to grooming and costs? Clearly they benefit from it. Do they just pay a "per day" use or anything additional?
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Old 02-14-2019, 01:04 PM
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These are questions I have too. The VPTF need to be fully transparent about their operational finances.
I did comment and can only urge others to comment too. I have little faith that my voice is worth a flip but at least I’ve chimed in.

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Old 02-14-2019, 01:09 PM
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:11 PM
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Old 02-16-2019, 09:05 AM
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:36 PM
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Old 03-16-2019, 07:36 AM
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:43 PM
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:25 PM
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