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[pct-l] Inyo NF Year 2000 Wilderness permit system (long)

There is a new wilderness permit system for next season in the Inyo National Forest, which includes Mt Whitney. This may effect PCT/JMT users entering via Inyo trailheads, and Badwater runners wishing to continue to the summit after completing the race.

Here is my take on the highlights of the new program (full text follows with URL):

*Permit reservation fees increase from $3/permit to $5/person and $15/person for Mt Whitney (note that the fee structure is changing from per PERMIT to per PERSON)
*No more mail back permits. They must be picked up at a Ranger Station.
*Permits for quota trail heads except Mt Whitney will now be 60%/40% split (reservation / first-come, first-served.) 
*Mt Whitney will remain 100% reservable, but permits will be issued via lottery.

====full text====
Date: August 18, 1999 
Release: Immediate


  Forest Supervisor Jeff Bailey has announced that the Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit System will receive an overhaul in the new millennium beginning January 1, 2000. Based on public comment and internal analysis, the decision was made to have the Forest Service operate the wilderness reservation service as part of the overall permit system. The fee for all reserved permits will be $5.00 per person, except in the Mt. Whitney Zone where the permit reservation fee will be $15 per person. 

  "The wilderness permit system has been a successful wilderness management tool since the 1970s," Bailey said. "The added feature of a wilderness reservation system for quota trails is a service to that segment of the public who want to ensure that they can hike on the trail of their choice on the dates of their choice. Approximately 40,000 people take advantage of the ability to make reservations each year on the Inyo National Forest." 

  For the past year the Forest Service has been soliciting input from the public regarding wilderness permits, reservations, and the possibility of use fees. The new permit system was developed in response to input received from the public and from other agencies, several of which provide permit and reservation services. The new system will make the Inyo National Forest program more consistent with neighboring national forests and national parks and will provide both a reservation service and increased wilderness education and services for wilderness visitors. It will also provide for better management of wilderness use data, including the accurate tracking of cancellations and "no-shows", allowing unused permits to be reissued.

  Earlier this year the Forest Service sought input on a proposed use fee in the Mt. Whitney area, which would have required everyone hiking any portion of the Mt. Whitney trail or North Fork Lone Pine Creek drainage to pay a fee. Based on input received, the new system will require that fees be paid only for reserving permits for the Mt. Whitney Zone. Mt. Whitney Zone permits will be 100% reservable and will be issued by a lottery system. "No-shows" will be issued on a first-come, first served basis, with no fee being charged. In response to local comments, day use permits will only be required above Lone Pine Lake on the Mt. Whitney trail. People will be able to hike to this destination without needing a permit. Overnight use in the North Fork Lone Pine Creek will be included in the Mt. Whitney Zone, and still requires a permit.

  Fees collected for reserving wilderness permits will be used to operate the reservation service and provide much needed services and enhancements in the Mt. Whitney area. The increase in reservation fees over the 1998 rates reflects the actual cost of providing the reservation services desired by visitors, with the higher rate for Whitney Zone reservations reflecting the huge demand and consequent workload of providing reserved permits for the Mt. Whitney Zone. The increased fees at Whitney will also be used for much needed management of trails and toilet facilities, and monitoring of resource conditions to ensure Mt. Whitney resources do not degrade and to make sure the Forest Service is providing the sort of experience visitors expect.

  Details of the New Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit System:

  Beginning January 1, 2000, the Forest Service will issue all wilderness permits that start on the Inyo National Forest. Wilderness permits are still required for all over night trips in the John Muir, Ansel Adams, Hoover, and Golden Trout Wildernesses. Permits are not required for day hikes except in the Mt. Whitney Zone. 


       Reservations for wilderness permits (except for the Mt. 
       Whitney Zone) for all dates for all quota trails during 
       the quota season will be available starting March
       1, 2000, and can be made up to 10 days prior to the trip 
       start date. Mt. Whitney Zone permit reservations will be  
       made through a lottery system that will begin
       February 1st. Applications must have a February postmark  
       to be included in the lottery, and all reservations  
       for the entire season will be drawn from this
       lottery. Mt. Whitney Zone reservation applicants will  
       have the option of being placed on a waiting list in  
       case they do not get a reservation. 
       Quota trails within the Mt. Whitney Zone will remain  
       100% reservable, while all other quota trails will be  
       60%/40% split (reservation/first-come, first-served.) 
       Reservations will be made by mail and fax, and  
       eventually the world wide web. 


       All wilderness permits must be picked up in  
       person to ensure proper management of the quota  
       system, including the ability to  
       collect accurate visitor use data
       and re-issue unused wilderness permits. 
       The rare unreserved and "no-show" (unclaimed)  
       Mt. Whitney Zone permit will be available on  
       a first-come, first-served (walk-in)  
       basis. All walk-in permits can
       be obtained anytime the day before the trip  
       entry date. Reserved permits must be picked  
       up by 10 am on the day of your trip.  
       Unclaimed reservations will be
       re-issued after 10 am, also on a first-come,  
       first-served basis. 
       Permit pick-up locations will be Lone Pine  
       Ranger Station, White Mountain Ranger Station,  
       Mammoth Visitor Center, and Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor
       Center. Permits for any Inyo National Forest  
       trailhead can be picked up at any of these four locations. 


       The fee for all reserved permits will be  
       $5.00 per person, except in the Mt. Whitney  
       Zone where the permit reservation fee will  
       be $15 per person. 
       Walk-in wilderness permits are free. 
       The operation of this new system under  
       the Recreation Fee Demonstration Project  
       will allow the Inyo National Forest to  
       keep 95% of the fees collected from
       permit reservations on the forest. 
       The increase in fees over 1998 rates  
       reflects the actual cost of providing  
       the various services desired by visitors,  
       including a reservation service, and is consistent
       with reservation fees charged on  
       neighboring national forests and national parks. 
       For Mt. Whitney Zone permit reservations,  
       the increased fee will operate the reservation  
       system as well as enable the  
       Forest Service to provide much needed
       services and enhancements in the Mt. Whitney  
       area, including increased visitor services,  
       trail maintenance, reconstruction and  
       maintenance of toilet facilities,
       management of the human waste program on  
       North Fork Lone Pine Creek, increased  
       wilderness education, campsite  
       restoration, and monitoring of resource

  The fax number for submitting permit reservation applications and a wilderness information line will be operational beginning February 1, 2000. The mailing address and fax and information numbers will be: 

  Inyo National Forest, Wilderness Permit Reservation Office
  873 North Main Street, Bishop, Ca 93514 
  Fax: (760) 873-2484
  Wilderness Information Line: (760) 873-2485 

  Wilderness permit applications and hours of operation for permit pick up will be available in Fall 1999. Please contact Diana Pietrasanta at (760) 876-6217, or Jan Cutts at (760) 873-2481 with any questions about this new wilderness permit system. 

  Links to more information on the Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit System 2000:

       Questions and Answers 
       Information Flier 

  Check this website for more information and future updates. 

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