The final Forest Service Outfitter and Guide Permitting Directives are
available on the AO website at http://www.americaoutdoors.org/docs/Outfitting_and_Guiding_final_dir_FRN.pdf. I have not analyzed them fully. Briefly though, when permitted capacity is reviewed (upon expiration of the permit or every five years), permittees with more than 1,000 user days will be assigned the highest year of actual use plus 15% not to exceed the original allocation. Outfitters assigned less than 1,000 user days will receive actual use plus 25% up to the original allocation.
At the request of universities, the rule adds as an objective "Facilitate greater participation in the outfitting and guiding program by organizations and businesses that work with youth and educational groups".
The rule does provide rangers with the option to establish priority use pools for existing permittees and temporary use pools for qualified applicants outside the area. Some outfitters with priority use permits have daily capacities and will see use reductions because of limited utilization during shoulder seasons. Underutilized allocations may be transferred to a priority use pool or to a temporary use pool depending on demand. Whether or not the rule provides adequate flexibility for outfitters with ephemeral seasons or shoulder seasons has not yet been determined.
A transitional priority use permit will be issued to outfitters on temporary use. The costs for conversion from priority to temporary use will be spread over the term of the permit.
Included among the key issues for our assessment are: 1) whether the priority use pool is adequate for outfitters who need shoulder season capacity, 2) how much the conversion from temporary use to priority use will cost for outfitters on temporary use, 3) how many outfitters with ephemeral seasons will be impacted by reductions in capacity, and 4) whether field staff will have the time and resources necessary to manage functional use pools.
AO will spend the next 24 hours fully analyzing the impacts of the rule. This snapshot is very preliminary, so read the document yourself and contact email@example.com if you have questions We will be assessing the impacts on our membership and take action if it is warranted. More information will be available within 24 hours.
At the AO convention in December, Jim Bedwell, Director of Recreation and Cultural Resources for the Forest Service, will be explaining how this directive will be implemented.
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