Before I begin, let me start by saying I have no skin in this issue, other than the fact that I love fishing, as do most of you. I do neither work for the government, nor have any family or friends who work for the government. That being said, Tonto National Forest is planning on changes to the fees we pay at the forest’s lakes (Bartlett, Saguaro, Canyon, Roosevelt, and Apache), some increase, some decreases, depending upon how you use the lake. I contacted TNF today to get some clarification on the proposed changes, and to see how I could provide my input without personally attending one of the meetings, which would take away from valuable fishing time.
The first thing I discovered is that their funding has been reduced significantly enough over the past few years that the current fees simply do not cover the daily costs of operations and maintenance. Options were discussed at several public roundtables: (1) Close areas. (2) Hire an outside vendor to take over the parks – this would surely result in higher fees and (3) Increase fees. 95% of the public involved in these roundtable discussions did not want either options 1 or 2, so they were left with raising fees.
The changes proposed that would affect anglers are as follows:
*Increase the cost of the day pass from $6 to $8.
*Leave the cost of the watercraft sticker unchanged at $4.
*Reduce the price of the annual pass from $95 to $80.
*Increase the cost of developed overnight campgrounds (Windy Hill, Cholla, and Burnt Corral) from $6 to $25
I would expect if you are reading this that you have an opinion, as do I. And since it has already been determined (roundtable meetings) that fee increases are the only viable option, then in reality the only comments they are likely to consider are those having to do with the fees. (I know we all would like to see showers at Apache Lake, but until Obamacare is repealed, the lake will have to do). Would you camp if the fee was $25 at Windy Hill, or is that too much? Or would you rather pay an extra dollar for watercraft to keep the campground rates a bit more affordable? TNF would like to hear your opinion as well, but unfortunately they do not accept Facebook as a valid source for comments. Your options (1) Do nothing, and go along with whatever is approved or (2) Voice your opinion. You can read more details (one page) at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tonto/home/?cid=STELPRDB5405154. You can send your email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.