Wednesday, October 05, 2016

2,000 people hiked three miles for a free beer. Is this the “new normal” for the Forest Service?

U.S. Forest Service officials last week revealed a “cultural shift” in the way recreational special-user permits are issued, promising to modernize the application process to improve access for younger visitors, groups, non-profits and schools seeking to explore public lands. The new approach was to be piloted in the White River National Forest, which logs the highest number of special-use recreation permits in the country. Two days later, about 2,000 thirsty hikers climbed a White River National Forest Service trail out of the Ski Cooper parking lot near Leadville to a remote 10th Mountain Division hut where Upslope Brewing was hosting its second annual “backcountry tap room.” It was a quintessential contemporary Colorado scene. The line for a free craft beer at the privately owned Vance’s Cabin stretched half a mile. The mostly young visitors — many seemingly hailing from the Front Range — waited happily for an hour. They lounged on downed timber and stumps charred by a long-ago wildfire, sipping cans of Boulder-based Upslope’s pale ale, lager and saison beers. Hundreds of happy hounds joined their people mountainside on the sunny Saturday. Was that the fastest trickle-down of a Washington, D.C., verdict ever? Are backcountry beer festivals the new normal for the Forest Service as it cultivates the next generation of public lands advocates?...more

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