Tahlequah Daily Press

November 20, 2013

Fees hinder activity, wellness


TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

I am replying to an article that was in our local paper last weekend. It explained that to use Sparrowhawk Primitive Area, a fishing or hunting license or a user permit for public lands was needed. The article said the fees were used to improve and maintain this area.

I have been using the Primitive Area for more than 30 years for hiking, and more recently, mountain biking. I have picked up trash, cleaned debris from the trails, and even helped fight wildfires in this area. I have yet to see any improvements or maintenance that was not a volunteer effort. Many groups of volunteers have spent their free time maintaining and improving the trails. With this regulation, they are subject to being fined if not licensed properly.

It is a shame the beauty of hiking or riding Sparrowhawk, which has been free to anyone, has to be regulated by charging fees. Why can’t the average person be allowed to enjoy our scenic wild places without a threat of penalty?

It is too bad Oklahoma cannot take Northwest Arkansas’ attitude toward being active outdoors. I have spent many days visiting the miles of trails that are just across the border in Arkansas. There are no fees for using their trails. In fact, they promote activity by not charging for the use of trails.

Our society needs to be active to be more healthy. It is not encouraging being active by threatening to charge anyone caught using Sparrowhawk without a license a $206 fine.  

M.C. Bingham