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  Sierra Magazine
  November/December 2008
Table of Contents
Ice Manliness Cometh
A Six-Dog-Power Engine
I (Heart) Snowshoeing
Skiing Yellowstone
Welcome Back to the World
Rotten Fish Tales
Big Fun in the Green Zone
Hey Mr. Green
Comfort Zone
Mixed Media
Last Words
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Sierra Magazine

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Lay of the Land

Three Strikes, You're Hired | Ten Reasons to Oppose "Fast Track" | No Net Loss? No Comment | Spreading Their Wings | Costly Corn | Deadly Winter for Monarchs | It Pays to be Popular | Honor Thy Father | Sprawl | WWatch | Bold Strokes | Updates

It Pays to Be Popular

Rich park, poor park, beggar parks

By Paul Rauber

Funding for national forests, parks, and seashores shouldn't be a popularity contest. But just as Sierra Club skeptics had warned, the federal government's experiment in collecting recreation fees from visitors to public lands has resulted in a handful of locales grabbing the lion's share of the money. According to a study by the General Accounting Office, 20 percent of the sites collected 70 percent of the fee revenue. And since 80 percent of the fee dollars are supposed to remain in the place they were collected, the report suggests that the windfall wealth may turn into unnecessary infrastructure. "Sites that collect most of the revenue use it to meet their local needs," the report says, "even if these needs are minor in comparison with those at other locations where funding is not as plentiful."

The hazards of running parks like businesses are amply demonstrated in Tennessee, which closed 15 of its 54 state parks last year. In explaining how he was going to choose which parks to shut down, the state's Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner Milton Marks said, "We are not going to close those parks that create revenue. We are only going to close those where people come out to look at nature."

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