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futbol, Goose, Rico Borchia, tif
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Original Post (Thread Starter)
Petition To Return To PreCovid Walk-in Permit System #58327 02/15/2021 7:16 PM
by Maverick
Please sign, the more signatures we get, the better chance we have to get these agencies to consider our request! Thank you!
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Re: Petition To Return To PreCovid Walk-in Permit System #58343 Feb 21st a 12:13 AM
by bobpickering
This thread began with Maverick asking us to support a petition to the Forest Service. He wants them to reinstate a system in which 40% of permits were only issued in-person, as walk-up permits. Those permits were not available online. This is an exclusionary system, despite Maverick saying, “it shouldn't be an exclusionary system.”

I oppose the petition. Any permit that is available as a walk-up should also be available simultaneously online. I will say more about the petition below, but first, I want to discuss a few issues that aren’t about to the petition.

There are 40 million people in California alone. The capacity of the wilderness is limited. Unfortunately, the days of writing our own permits at will are long gone. Until recently, we had to deal with an insane patchwork of permitting systems. We had to apply online, by snail mail, email, or by fax, depending on who issued the permit. Application dates and procedures were all over the place. A few years ago, I wanted to enter SEKI from a USFS trailhead. SEKI insisted that I had to have a permit, and the USFS didn’t require permits for that trailhead, so they refused to issue one. Getting that straightened out was a major cluster! Fortunately, more and more agencies are switching to is far from perfect, but it’s more consistent, and it usually works pretty well.

Some people reserve permits, don’t use them, and then never cancel their reservations. Yes, this is a problem. Yes, a financial incentive to cancel unused permits might help. Nothing short of banning all reservations will eliminate the problem. Maybe they could adjust the quotas to reflect the fact that some people don’t use their permits, and maybe they have already done this. They aren’t going to ban reservations, so this issue should have no bearing on the petition.

Most popular trails have quotas in the summer. There are no quotas in the winter. Last summer, I needed a permit for an unpopular non-quota trail in Humboldt-Toiyabe NF during quota season. They close their self-issue station during quota season, and there was no way to reserve my permit online. It took several weeks of emails and phone tag to get my permit, and they charged me fifteen bucks for what should have been a free self-issue permit. I think we can all agree that permits for a trail with no quota should be as easy to obtain as possible. That means at least online and walk-up. Self-issue after hours would be nice, but that might not work, because some people would try to write self-issue permits for quota trails.

Reservations are a necessity. My friend, Gary, lives in Atlanta. My friend, Sabrina, lives in England. They both love to hike and climb in the Sierra. Planning a trip to the Sierra requires, you guessed it, planning. It involves plane tickets, a rental car, probably hotel and/or campground reservations, and wilderness permits. Many wilderness permits and campground reservations are available six months in advance. Six months is fine with me, but I wouldn’t mind something shorter.

In the early days of the quota system, holding back 40% of the permits for walk-up may have made sense. We didn’t all have internet access at home and a smart phone in our pocket or purse. It took much longer to reserve and obtain a permit before we had In those days, the only viable choices were advance reservations and walk-up.

However, walk-up permits have serious problems. If you want a permit for a quota trail, you have to be standing in line at the permit station at 11:00 AM the day before your entry date. If you’re not a local, that means you have to miss an entire day of work, just to get your permit. If you don’t get your permit, you are screwed! Now that we can reserve permits online, there is no excuse for not allowing everyone to book ALL permits online. Everyone on this thread obviously has internet access and knows how to use it. If you can’t figure out, or if you just prefer to talk to a ranger in person, go ahead and do the walk-up.

The COVID-19 pandemic required some big changes. We quit doing anything, including issuing permits, in person. They made the old “40% walk-up” permits available online two weeks in advance. This was a big improvement over the old system. We didn’t have to pack our stuff and drive several hours, only to find out that somebody beat us to our coveted trailhead. We could know for sure, before packing our gear and driving for several hours, that we had our permits. This is a reasonable compromise for those that can’t or don’t want to plan six months in advance. BTW, two weeks wasn’t my idea, and I think one week is also reasonable.

If, after actually reading this, you still think we should go back to the exclusionary 40% walk-up only system, I have this suggestion: Ask the NFL to reserve a big block of Superbowl tickets for people who drive to the stadium on Superbowl Sunday and want to buy a ticket.

Originally Posted by Maverick
I don't have much trust in the online system, especially if all the people who were unable to reserve permits the first time, will all be now in the bidding for the same so-called "walk-ins".

Maverick’s intentions are clear. He wants to exclude people who apply for permits six months in advance from applying for the 40% he wants to reserve for walk-up only. This petition is a bad idea. Please don’t support it.
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Re: Petition To Return To PreCovid Walk-in Permit System #58339 Feb 19th a 07:39 PM
by Goose
Just to clarify, Paul, I am not suggesting adding more ways to reserve or otherwise tie up permits. I actually agree with you that last minute, day-of or day-before distribution of permits makes sense. But I do not understand why limiting their accessibility to in-person pick-up needs to be a requirement. Wouldn't it be even easier for you if you could hop online and pay for a permit before even heading out, especially for same day permits? Why can't whatever permits are released be made available to everyone and not just to the Rangers to hand out to whomever is close enough to get there before closing? This would actually help people like you, Maverick. There really is a way to make this work better for everyone.

I think the crux lies in that the current system was not actually designed but is instead a patchwork of updates and band-aids.
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Re: Petition To Return To PreCovid Walk-in Permit System #58335 Feb 18th a 07:36 AM
by bobpickering
I’m not sure why you’re disagreeing, Paul. I just want everything to be available online. The petition is asking to have some of the permits reserved for walk-up, making them unavailable online.

The last time I wanted a permit on short notice, I simply checked until a cancellation appeared. Yes, it took a while. But there were no unanswered phone calls. I didn’t have to drive for hours hoping for an opening that didn’t exist. And I eventually snagged a Whitney Zone day permit, drove down from Reno, and climbed Mt. Russell.

There is plenty of room for improvement with the current system. And I have no objection to making unused permits available for walk-up. I just don’t want them deliberately reserving permits for walk-up, making them unavailable for online access.
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Re: Petition To Return To PreCovid Walk-in Permit System #58354 Feb 26th a 06:11 PM
by bobpickering
Here we go again…

Making people take a day off from work, drive several hours, and stand in line at 11:00 AM for a permit that may already be gone is just stupid. All permits should be available online. Period. If COVID-19 safety restrictions allow it, go ahead and book your permit in person. Reserve your permit in person six months in advance, for all I care. You can re-read my posts. I never said they shouldn’t issue walk-up permits. I just oppose making permits unavailable online so that locals and a few others have a corner on the market for 40% of the permits.

I have not personally booked a walk-up permit since 2014. In 2019, I had a permit for Observation Peak and Scylla with my friend, Chris. Chris’s wife, Kassandra, and my friend, Amin, wanted to join the trip. Chris and Kassandra drove across the Sierra the day before to pick up the permit at 11:00 AM. If they hadn’t gotten the permit, Kassandra would have had to drive back to the bay area. Amin would have had to drive back to San Diego. And Kassandra would have had to drive across again to pick up Chris five days later. There is really no justification for this insanity.

This is the 21st century. Everybody does everything online. I manage my finances, pay my bills, do 90% of my shopping, applied for Social Security and Medicare, book medical appointments (including both COVID-19 vaccinations), file my taxes, create maps for my trips, and, yes, apply for permits and book campsites on

Before COVID-19, you could pick up reserved and walk-up permits for Inyo National Forest in Lee Vining, Mammoth, Bishop, or Lone Pine. You could take your pick, except that Whitney permits were available in Lone Pine only. Once COVID-19 is better under control, I think they will issue permits in person again. Everybody reading this post obviously has internet access and knows how to use it. If you really don’t want to book permits online, feel free to stand in line for a walk-up permit. Just don’t lobby to make those permits unavailable to the rest of us.
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Re: Petition To Return To PreCovid Walk-in Permit System #58402 Mar 25th a 04:11 PM
by Steve C
Steve C
Originally Posted by Hobbes
enjoy some cold bears over a nice cooked dinner afterward
Hobbes, picturing you sharing a nice cooked dinner with some cold bears brings a grin to my face.

...had to search far and wide to find a picture of a cold bear with a beer. grin

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