MagazineFebruary 2012Switchback Results: Fees and Favorites

Switchback Results: Fees and Favorites

Would you be willing to pay user fees to access public lands?

YES: 71%

I would gladly pay a small one-time or annual pass fee for access to public lands, but only if I was assured that those revenues would be put into maintaining and improving those areas. I want that money going directly into the trails, not into a general fund to be squandered by administrators and bureaucratic overhead.
—Kevin Dobo-Hoffman, Asheville, N.C.

I support fees as long as they support non-extractive recreation and forest protection. We should all be responsible stewards and end irresponsible subsidized timber cuts on public lands.
— Ben Colvin, Asheville, N.C.

The public often forgets about the costs of maintaining the land, roads, trails, restrooms, and scenic overlooks, as well as hauling out trash. Access fees might enable more of our tax dollars to be dedicated to acquiring more public lands for conservation.
—Heather Widener, via e-mail

I only support an access fee if it goes directly to the park or forest where it was collected and not into a general fund.
—Richard Mansker, Atlanta, Ga.

NO: 29%

We already pay user fees in the form of taxes, which supposedly go to protecting our public lands system. User fees are double taxation, and the Forest Service already squanders hundreds of millions in subsidized logging on public lands.
—Keira Whitley, Roanoke, Va.

Outdoor recreation is already too white and elitist. A user fee only makes it even harder for low-income folks to explore the outdoors. There should never be a price tag on experiencing the natural world.
—Danielle Foster, Knoxville, Tenn.

Which are your favorite mountains?


They each have their beauty, but there are fewer things in the Appalachians that can eat me.
— Ingles Alexander, Saltville, Va.

The easily accessible solitude and peace that the Appalachians bring far outweigh all others.
—Eddy, Danville, Va.

The Rockies and Sierras are the bold kids on the block with their in-your-face attitude. The Appalachians remain the quiet, mature adults with their soft green views. That coyness continuously beckons me to explore and be amazed by all that’s hidden from view.
—Pete Webber, Petersburg, Va.

The Appalachians are older and more manageable. They offer hiking without too many verticals and skiing for all abilities. Add the network of lakes for fishing and other watersports, and the Apps offer the complete package, all within a few hours of driving.
—Karl Kunkel, Baltimore, Md.


I’m an intermediate skier, so I’m biased towards long blue runs groomed or powder. The Rockies seem to provide the best of this.
—Tony Hogan, Atlanta, Ga.

As much as I love my home Appalachians, seeing the Rockies was an experience I will never forget, and they captured a very special place in my heart.
—Carol G., Greenville, S.C.


The Sierras have more snow, higher peaks, and better cross-country ski access, but they’re not as resort-laden as the Rockies.
—Doug Vlad, Charlotte, N.C.

Places to Go, Things to See: