Friends of Cougar
Cougar Hot Springs: Paradise Protected
By Greg Thorne - Wednesday 4/6/05 2:00am
We want to preserve the paradise of Cougar Hot Springs.
I am speaking now personally, based on my 1000+ visits to Cougar since 1991 and having spoken to thousands of fellow visitors.
This plan is to keep the Hot Springs as it is with no additional development and no physical changes. Naturally when visitors learn the Friends of Cougar are managing the Hot Springs, rather than the Federal Government, compliance with paying any fees will increase. Litter will also be less of a problem, since a more cooperative atmosphere will emerge.
1. Keep the environment as natural as possible. Natural rock pools, no cement or other outside materials. No added buildings or structures.
2. Keep the trail natural. No asphalt.
3. Keep the price of admission as low as possible to make it affordable to those with low incomes as well as those wanting just a brief soak. If the fee is $2 per person, give $1 to the Forest Service.
It is likely that the fee could be eliminated entirely, and that the rare bad behavior could be corraled through cooperative intervention. Pre-1998 there were almost no negative incidents at the Hot Springs. Surveys taken at the Hot Springs showed that by far our biggest problem in 1998 was the Forest Service. I'd have to check but I think that was the law enforcement style (heavy-handed, discriminatory, confrontational) that upset people the most. Most of the problems that FS cited at decision-time on the fee were people that disrespected their authority. A great deal of myth and propaganda was created about litter in the campgrounds and crime. Those of us who were visiting and camping at Cougar regularly in the years prior to 1998 know the truth.
4. Minimize stress. Have rule enforcement be as gentle as possible. Volunteers from the Friends of Cougar can police almost all incidents and only call in outside law enforcement in rare cases of emergency.
5. Clothing optional.
6. Same rules as currently, but allow night-use when safety and security concerns can be satisfied.
7. Have the Friends of Cougar manage the hot springs. This includes setting the tone as described in the Cougar Code of Conduct, taking out the trash, ensuring the pools are cleaned, the outhouses maintained and fees collected.
8. Change the name officially to Cougar Hot Springs. People get confused because the Forest Service calls it Terwilliger Hot Springs.
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