[pct-l] PCT usage quotas

enyapjr at comcast.net enyapjr at comcast.net
Thu Feb 28 07:46:46 CST 2008

More excellent points, blisterfree!

At least we're both getting the words "future" and "protect and preserve" in there now, even though still differing slightly - I think we're going in the same direction, might even be on the exact same track, but possibly slightly different destination points(?)...

I earlier alluded to one of the major problems - the AT is under the National Park Service (Interior) umbrella while the PCT is under the National Forest Service (Agriculture)...

> What government agency was put 'in charge' to oversee the AT?  The Department of Interior, National Park Service...
> What government agency was put in charge to oversee the PCT?  The Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service...
> Now there's two agencies that definitely march to the beat of different drummers as to what their individual primary duties and goals are!!!

Considering the "charter" of the National Trails System Act of 1968, I feel the National Park Service should oversee the PCT (and ALL the national trails, after all the National Trails System Act was delegated to the NPS!), especially because of the basic philosophical differences between USFS and NPS...  
(For those interested, the 'latest' amended version (Dec., 2006) of the National Trails System Act can be seen at <http://www.nps.gov/nts/legislation.html>... )
One of the 'poor' points (philosophical, again) regarding the USFS - they don't appreciate "outsiders" trying to unduly influence 'their' decisions...  We will never see an AT 'club' style organization on the PCT as long as the USFS is 'in charge'...  The PCTA does an excellent job, but they are limited by having to deal with the USFS first - they could probably do so much more if the NPS were 'in charge' of the PCT...  The PCTA does what it can with their "hands tied behind their backs" while being "stuck in the middle" dealing with the USFS...
I'm not sure why 'authority' was 'farmed out' (pun not intended, but it works!) to the USFS, why the USFS was put 'in charge' of the PCT, when the NPS should have retained 'control' - probably just another "political" decision (whoops, sorry, can't do that - off topic!)...  Unfortunately, the USFS has always been highly fragmented, with the fragments given too much autonomy - region to region and forest to forest...

Do you think that would help the PCT in the long term if the NPS were in charge of the PCT?
How would we get the PCT completely under the NPS umbrella and away from the Forest Service?

Happy trails!!!

Brett's post:

>But I don't think artificially limiting traffic - eg, quotas - along the PCT 
> corridor via government regulation is a viable long-term solution to 
> increasing use of a National Scenic Trail. You build it so they will 
> come, and manage it so that they may continue to do so.

enyapjr at comcast.net wrote:

    Why do the agencies HAVE to increase use? They are also supposed to
    'preserve and protect' the "wilderness corridor" for future
    generations, also...

My reply:

They don't have to increase use. That's not what I'm implying in 
"building it so they will come." The National Scenic Trails are intended 
to provide recreational opportunities away from civilization, as an 
extended, unbroken refuge of sorts from modern life. The NST's are 
intended to be available to all Americans, now and into the future - a 
national heritage; access and opportunity are just as important as 
resource protection. And if and when the NST's receive increased use 
that could result in detriments to the resource, the goal of land 
managers should be to balance the two - to preserve and protect, but 
also to accommodate. Limiting users' access or freedom of movement along 
NST's should be a position of last resort. The goal instead should be to 
manage the trail so that it can handle the use it happens to receive.

The East vs West philosophical divide is huge. I've hiked both trails in 
full, and have lived here as well as there. But as the trail grows in 
popularity, it will be a stumbling block to success if Western land 
managers continue to view the PCT in a myopic, regional sort of way, and 
to lump this NST into the generalized management plan for individual 
Forests, Wilderness areas, and National Parks the trail passes through 
from Mexico to Canada.

If PCT thru-hikers are on the radar of Cleveland National Forest 
managers, then those managers should recognize that the phenomenon is 
related entirely to the PCT's unique condition as a border to border 
National Scenic Trail, complete with "thru-hiking windows of 
opportunity" and "starting masses that winnow down farther north" and 
yes, even Kick-off Parties that tend to concentrate hikers into roving 
bands. Any solution that ignores the big picture of a 2600 mile 
border-to-border trail in all its complexity and unique social dynamic 
is probably inappropriate, and stopgap.

- blisterfree

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