unedited sept. mt. news story:
By Kathryn Reed
Verbal fireworks were ignited at area beaches this summer when annual pass holders were told to hand over money in addition to showing their pass.
The U.S. Forest Service acknowledges the July 4 policy was inadequate. When beach-goers drove up that Friday they were told to pay $10, which was half the price other vehicles were charged. Several pass holders balked at this, saying at no time were they told this would happen.
Passes for Pope, Baldwin, Nevada and Meeks Bay beaches – which are all on Forest Service property – sell for $60. They are valid May 15-Oct. 15. No black out dates were posted or any indication given that Fourth of July would require an extra fee. Day use without a pass is $5 per vehicle.
“In retrospect, we all agree the pass holders this year should not have been charged because it was not disclosed upfront on the passes, which it will be next year,” said Cheva Heck, USFS spokeswoman.
It is not known how many pass holders were upset by the additional fee or how many paid it or if any turned around.
California Land Management, the concessionaire for the four beaches, loses money on July 4 because of the added expenses with additional security, attending to rest rooms more frequently and trash removal. Charging pass holders was a way to off-set some of the cost of doing business on a day that more than 20,000 people visit those four sandy spots, but did not cause CLM to make a profit that day.