Towns Pick Up the Tab for U.S. Forest Service Staff

Source: Sophie Quinton, Stateline, September 19, 2018

….The visitor boom — while great for the local economy — is putting a strain on the public lands that are, ultimately, the reason people vacation, day-trip and retire to the Vail Valley. The cash-strapped U.S. Forest Service isn’t equipped to handle the more than 12 million people who now come to the 2.3-million-acre White River National Forest each year.

So, this year, Vail and other Eagle County governments are planning to set aside as much as $120,000 to pay for Forest Service employees to monitor trails and campgrounds and enforce backcountry rules next summer.

Communities across the country are facing similar challenges as more people visit public lands, outdoor recreation becomes more important to rural growth, and federal land managers struggle with tight budgets. The growth in tourism and population has led local governments to set aside tax dollars for a purpose they might never have considered before: boosting federal agencies. ….