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Fee Demo is nonsense everywhere

To the Editors:
The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition cannot allow to go unremarked the comments attributed to District Ranger Jim Upchurch claiming success for the Fee Demo program at Maroon Bells, as reported in the Telegraph on June 12.

Ranger Upchurch is thrilled to report that he had $119,000 in fee revenue last year to spend on "greeters and janitors." Among the many things he failed to mention was that what those janitors clean is a toilet that cost the taxpayers $1.6 million and has been pointed to by even the likes of Sen. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., as a classic example of a Forest Service boondoggle!

In any case, justifying Fee Demo because the money is used for good works is a lot like justifying armed robbery by giving the proceeds to the United Way!

An ongoing problem in the Forest Service is that they seem to have unlimited funds to build new "improvements" like fancy toilets but no money for operational expenses such as, for example, toilet paper. While claiming to be sinking under an ever-growing backlog of maintenance needs, they are still spending tons of money on capital improvements no one asked for (like the fancy new $700,000 campground at Little Molas Lake) that just add to the problem.

A recent GAO report (GAO-03-470) tells the real truth about Fee Demo in the Forest Service: They've been shamelessly under-reporting the costs of operating the program in a last-ditch attempt to save their access to a stream of revenue that is largely unaccountable to Congress.

Upchurch admits that Fee Demo "doesn't make sense everywhere." He's wrong. Fee Demo doesn't make sense anywhere.

Kitty Benzar , WSNFC co-founder

Food Not Bombs

Dear Durango:
Come out, get a free meal and see what Food Not Bombs is all about. We'll be at Buckley Park every Saturday. We'll have free food, ongoing events and a literature table that you can peruse.

Love and revolution,
Clay Dewey, Food Not Bombs, Durango





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