Hikers and other outdoorsmen in Wyoming may soon have to pay an access fee to get onto the state’s many recreation trails. The proposed move by the state is an effort to raise funds for public land trail systems throughout Wyoming. Hikers, cyclists and horseback riders would all pay an annual fee of $10 to access the trails, which could raise as much as $1 million each year for Wyoming.
So far, hikers and those outdoors lovers who use “non-motorized” trails aren’t necessarily opposed to paying a fee, as long as the money went toward building and maintaining the recreational trails they access. Still, there is a certain amount of the trail users who feel that any fee to access a route is uncalled for.
It would seem that the state’s heart is in the right place. Representatives from an organization called Wyoming Pathways spoke to a state committee in August and said that the fees would help communities with trails grow. Right now, Wyoming doesn’t have the necessary funds to keep a trail crew large enough to handle the number of trails the state has to offer. Plus, they aren’t getting any additional funding from the federal government.
Many of the state’s trails are inaccessible because of a lack of maintenance, which is why most hikers, bikers, equestrian enthusiasts and the like are in support of throwing some cash toward the effort if it means they’ll have more opportunities to do the things they enjoy.
Ten dollars doesn’t seem like a lot to fork over for an annual permit. Furthermore, the permits would only be required on trails where other fees aren’t already present. In other words, if you plan on hiking someplace where you already have to pay a fee to get in or park, you wouldn’t be required to have one of the proposed “non-motorized trail” permits. The bill would only pertain to “natural-surface trails.” If you mostly hike sidewalks and paved routes the permit wouldn’t be required.
If the bill passes it would be first of its kind, as no other state currently charges fees for hiking natural routes. However, most outdoors enthusiasts would likely have no problem ponying up a small annual fee as long as it was clear that they were getting something for their effort.