Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sport Poachers

One of our duties of camp hosting is to collect user fees.  Rifle Mountain Park user fees are mostly a self-pay honor system.  Each user pays for the services (camping or day use) when they enter the park…in theory anyway. 

There appear to be three groups of park users:
  • Pay-as-planned;
  • Pay-when-asked; and
  • Sport Poacher.
The vast majority of people are Pay-as-planned who pay for their fees when entering the park.  Although this is my favorite group, I rarely get to meet them in my camp hosting duties.  If more people were in this group, we could spend more time enhancing the park and less time enforcing rules.

The Pay-when-asked group is interesting.  They know there is a use fee, but are gamblers.  They play the odds of being caught then paying, not being caught and not paying, and being caught by the police and paying a fine as well as the fee.  Excuses abound from this group:
  • "This isn’t a State Park?”
  • “I didn’t know there was a fee.”
  • “Sorry”
  • “We were lazy.”
There is rarely if ever any resistance to paying the user fees when asked, but they never voluntarily pay.
Sport Poacher may really be a sub-class of the Pay-when-asked gambling group as they face the same consequences, but the motivations are truly different.  Sport Poachers have a strategy to avoid fees:
  • In the campgrounds
    • Occupy an empty site late in the evening and then blast out early in the morning
    • Pull up next to the cars that belong to a paid site and “blend-in”…camouflaged style
  • In the day use area
    • Obtain park pass envelope, not pay the place an apparently valid date pass on the dash
    • Use camping pass from a valid paid pass as their day use pass
    • Transfer an annual pass from car to car

The list could go on and on, but you get the point.  They want to avoid payment and will resort to lying and fraud to achieve their goal. 

My question to these last two groups, “Is it worth $5, $7 or $12 to avoid being thought of as a thief?”

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