Policy changes in the management of the Payette River Program have switched from the USFS as a Good-Neighbor to the USFS as gun-toting brown shirts or in this case, pickle suits. The change took on a new light Sunday, August 5th 2012 when two USFS Law Enforcement Officers came to the peaceful Payette River armed with IKs and sidearms ready to take on the rapids and misbehaving river users.

The issue is a USFS shift from providing a service: parking, clean bathrooms, site maintenance, river patrols (in the good neighbor sense) to Enforcement. This is what local river users have opposed all along. After more than ten years of the rec fee demo (now Rec Fee Act) lulling us into compliance it has come to armed law enforcement officers harassing unarmed river runners. Most river runners go to the river  to escape the pressures of modern society and enjoy nature. The parking fee on the Payette is a necessary evil. We are no longer a small band of river runners parking next to the highway or in the county gravel pile to access the river. However no one is a fan of the Feds invading the river with side arms and a ticket book. 

The Ranger in Emmett, John Ericson, left after 10 years or so of hands-off-management and an interim ranger, John Thorton, is in his place 208 365 7001 -- for a direct line to his desk. John is a nice guy, but apperantly has no idea of what is going on on the Payette.

The resource manager for many years TJ Clifford left as well and a new rec planner was hired -- Rebecca Cooper -- taking two people out of the field to fund one in the office. TJ was a "good-neighbor manager" working with the IWWA and taking input from boaters. Rebecca is all enforcement. 208 365 7000 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  The River Ranger, of eight years, left as well as the job was changed last season from site maintenance, education, and friendly river patrols to Enforcement.

In addition the Payette is co-managed with the BLM.  Larry Ridenhaur is the Recreation Manager at the BLM. 208-384-3334 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. I contacted Larry on Wednesday and he didn't know anything about the Law Enforcement on the Payette but was going to investigate. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

The Forest Supervisor is Cecilia Seesholtz. (208) 373-4100. She should be informed of your opinions. 

The real issue here is the mindset shift from providing river runners with a valuable service to, as the Authorities see it,  herding a bunch of irresponsible river hippies.

As river users on the Payette we have to pay a fee. In exchage the USFS has to provide us with service for our recreation fees. Enforcement with firearms has no place on the Payette River. The USFS is not living up the their half of the bargain as defined in the Rec Fee Act contract:

  • No trash cans at Banks
  • Parking lots full of weeds
  • Parking lots full of trash
  • Parking lot barrier rocks are hidden in weeds.
  • Dog feces at all river sites.
  • Trash on river banks
  • The trail at Kayakers Corner on canyon is choked with weeds, the waterbars are filled with debris. resulting trail damage
  • The trail at big falls has rocks in path in high traffic areas
  • The put-in for canyon is covered with debris
  • The Put-in at canyon is full of weeds.
  • The trees have not been watered at Confluence and Banks
  • Some trees are dead at Confluence. A lot of work was put into those trees.
  • Ramp at Banks access needs repair.
  • Lots of litter on beach at Banks Access beach
  • Ramp at confluence has several large rocks in impeding launch traffic.
  • **** Payette Outfitter fees are going to Lowman Ranger District coffers and not returned to the river program. Rec Fee Act stipulates that funds collected go back into the area where they are collected.
  • No (friendly) river patrols.

The Rec Fee Act is required to provide the following to charge a fee:

Standard Amenity Fees
Examples: Picnic areas, developed trailheads, destination visitor centers, high impact recreation areas (Payette falls under high impact)
Explanation: Typically, standard amenity fees are day use fees, often covered by a day or annual pass. Each site or area must contain six "amenities," which are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

Well we have security now! So if there is not trash service or picnic tables, then you are not obligated to pay a recreation fee. the correct thing to do is to  take it up with the ranger and forest supervisor.

And as for LEOs they have no authority out of the forest boundaries. They cannot enforce traffic laws on county or state highways. They barely have the authority to enforce the laws in the forest. When things get tough in the forest the USFS normally has to rely on the County Sherrif.

The Cabarton put-in, take-out, and almost all of the river are private property. The USFS does not manage that stretch of river. The "LEOs" at the Carbarton were probably  Valley County Sherrif's deputies. Patty Bolen is the Sherrif. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 208-382 7150. Sherrifs are elected officials and need to be informed of public opinion of their actions. 

The thing to do is to contact the people listed above  and express your concern. There is absoutly no place on the Payette river for enforcement Idiots LEOs or AHs with firearms. If so then perhaps as a group all river runners should excersize our 2nd amendment rights while floating the Payette. We need to get together as a group and put this to a stop now. As Pogo said: "We have met the enemy and he is us."