15 – Fees (1999-2002)
(This is a part of a series of gleanings from the history of CRC’s 30 years of work; additional posts available here.)
Another Forest Service proposal that CRC sought to influence from about 1999 through 2002 was the USFS Fee Demo Program, painfully slow in its development.
The fee program had been authorized by Congress, and public support had generally been positive, especially since most of the fees were to be retained locally to improve and maintain public use facilities. However, no permits were available for frequent users, and it was uncertain whether use permits would be valid throughout the Coronado National Forest, or just in one District of the Forest.
In early 2003, finally, annual permits could be purchased for $20, allowing unlimited parking at four sites only: South Fork in the Chiricahua Mountains, Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains, Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon, both in the Santa Catalina Mountains. However, the South Fork permit was not valid for parking at Rustler Park or for camping. After several years of work, the resulting permit’s usefulness was minimal, and the fee situation has continued to fluctuate.