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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The following email was sent out by BLM to 2021 permit holders for the John Day River.
I didn't receive it initially, but I was able to get a copy by requesting the information from BLM.
I am posting it here in case others are interested in the changes to the John Day River permitting system.
I believe these are set to go into effect as proposed for 2022 and will show up on the Recreation.gov system soon.
Even so, I went ahead and submitted my comments/suggestions to BLM using the email address listed below.

Subject: Proposed Improvements for 2022 John Day River limited entry boater permits

Dear John Day River Boaters,

We hope that everyone had an amazing trip on the John Day River this year!
This is our new email address, and please feel free to contact us here with questions, concerns, or comments at any point.

We are reaching out in regard to the John Day River limited entry permit system (May 1-July 15 annually). We have received reports expressing the difficulty in obtaining overnight permits and of overcrowding between Clarno to Cottonwood. In response to observations from staff, feedback from John Day River Boaters, and collected data we are proposing a few administrative improvements to the permit system for the 2022 limited season.

We would love to hear your feedback and would also like to hear about your experiences this year on the John Day. If you would like to be taken off this email list, please reply with STOP in the subject line. If we have missed anyone, please have them contact us to be added to the email list.

We have thousands of boaters on the mailing list, so if a reply is delayed, please be patient. Email is the preferred method for feedback, but please let us know if you’d like a follow up phone call.

What are we proposing?

1. We are proposing to move the limited entry John Day River Boater Permits, both day use and overnight, to what we call a rolling release schedule instead of the block releases that were used in 2020 and 2021. Rolling release is common for backcountry permits and campground reservations on Recreation.gov and works well.

2. To provide opportunities for long trips and to better manage crowding between Clarno and Cottonwood, we would like to create a separate category for boaters who are launching upstream of Clarno and taking out at Thirtymile or below.

How would it work?
  1. Essentially, fifty percent of permits would become available 4 months prior to a given launch date, and the remaining permits would become available 1 month prior to the launch date. Recreation.gov would release permits daily at 7am Pacific Time starting January 1st, 2022.
    • For example, if you wanted to launch May 1st, 2022, half of the permits would become available for purchase 4 months prior to the launch date (January 1st, 2022). The second half would become available 1 month prior to the launch date (April 1st, 2022).
    • If you wanted to launch June 17th, half of the permits would be available for purchase starting February 17th, 2022 and the second half would be available starting May 15th, 2022.
    • A draft release schedule is attached to help clarify. Keep in mind this is an example only and is not the final schedule. The final schedule would be available on Recreation.gov.
  2. We have noticed an increasing number of parties floating from Segment 3 (Service Creek to Clarno) into Segment 2 (Clarno to Cottonwood). We certainly support long trips and would like to keep that option available while providing for a positive recreational experience.
    • To accommodate for longer trips, we are proposing a separate category for parties who would like to float from Segment 3 (launching above Clarno) through Segment 2 (taking out at Thirtymile or below).
    • This category would be called, “Long Distance Permits”. Long Distance Permits would have 2 launches available per day from any launch point in Segment 3 or further upstream (i.e. floating in from the North Fork of the John Day).
    • Takeout options for long distance permits would only be available for Thirtymile, Cottonwood, Starvation Lane, Rock Creek, and John Day Crossing. You cannot takeout at Clarno or any access point upstream of Clarno.
    • Regular Segment 3 permits will have takeout options at Clarno and any legal access point upstream of Clarno. You cannot takeout downstream of Clarno.
    • Overnight permit numbers will slightly change to accommodate for the new category: Clarno: 5 instead of 6, Service Creek: 8 instead of 9, Twickenham, Priest Hole, Burnt Ranch combined 9 instead of 10, Long Distance Paddle Permits 2 instead of 0.
Once again, these are proposed changes and have not been finalized yet. We would like to hear your comments and feedback.

Thank you for your time and for caring for the John Day River.

John Day River Staff
BLM Central Oregon Field Office
3050 NE 3rd Street
Prineville, OR 97754
BLM _[email protected]
 

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Thanks for posting
There is certainly a need to change the system
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I agree that a change is needed. Unfortunately, the change in the system (essentially having more release dates) will not alleviate the two issues I see with this style of permitting, increasing the time burden on the public and it being inequitable.

1) The new system increases the amount of time and emotional stress that I (and everyone else) will have to devote to getting a permit.
Instead of two days, I will now be trying for as many days as it takes to get a permit.
I'm already dreading February and April (4 months and 1 month out from a May launch date) and the number of mornings that I'll be trying to get a permit. I'm not sure how many hours over those 2 months I will have to devote to this. 3? 5? 10 hours?
That is an unnecessary burden on the public, for whom we should be making access to this public resource easier, not more difficult.
We limit the number of people to protect the resource, but we should not make getting a permit only accessible to those with the available time to devote to getting a permit.

2) This permitting system replicates the inequities of the original permitting system.
I will describe how it is inequitable for folks with disabilities and slow internet connections, who are disproportionately communities of color, rural, and poor.
With the new system, you must still have nimble fingers (and be otherwise quick on a computer) to snag a permit.
There are many people with disabilities (e.g., visual impairments, reduced finger dexterity) that make quick navigation of a webpage difficult to impossible.
This change to the permit system places the same barriers in front of folks with this difficulty, as you still have to make quick cursor clicks to get a permit.
Plus, you must have a fast internet connection. Covid has reminded us that many people, especially communities of color and rural and poor communities, do not have this resource.
I believe that the BLM is in favor of making its online systems as accessible as possible, which in this case will also directly increase the diversity of users in the natural areas that it manages.

Having a lottery style permit system, like what is used for Desolation Canyon on the Green River through Recreation.gov, alleviates the time burden and the inequities that I mentioned above.
People can take the time they need to navigate the online system, putting in for the dates that they would like to boat.
There is minimal stress, minimal time commitment, and it allows people with disabilities and/or slow internet to move at a speed that works for them.
Additionally, unlike the Desolation Canyon system, I would suggest a point system, similar to that used by the Oregon Department of Fish and Game (e.g. bear tags for hunting).
If you are unable to get a permit this year, you get a point that increases your chances of getting a permit next year.
If multiple people in a party are drawn and choose to decline a permit, that permit should go to the next lottery winner.
The current system has a declined permit become available whenever the former permit holder declines it, which only benefits people who have the time to constantly monitor the Recreation.gov webpage.

[that is a relevant excerpt from my comment submitted to the BLM]
 

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So my question is, if you had a segment 3 permit were you able to float into and potentially thru segment 2 without a segment 2 permit? If so that’s where it’s all gone wrong. Sounds like they should limit the permit to the segment the permit is for. If you want to do a longer trip than you need both permits. Just like doing a middle main trip during the lottery period.
 

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So my question is, if you had a segment 3 permit were you able to float into and potentially thru segment 2 without a segment 2 permit? If so that’s where it’s all gone wrong.
Yeah, this is what happened. I don’t know if it was allowed or ignorance - willful or otherwise - by the public though. The long distance boater permit is a great solution. It’s style-cramping to have to meet a series of precise launch dates whereas the Middle/Main it’s just 1.

2) This permitting system replicates the inequities of the original permitting system.
I will describe how it is inequitable for folks with disabilities and slow internet connections, who are disproportionately communities of color, rural, and poor.
With the new system, you must still have nimble fingers (and be otherwise quick on a computer) to snag a permit.
There are many people with disabilities (e.g., visual impairments, reduced finger dexterity) that make quick navigation of a webpage difficult to impossible.
This change to the permit system places the same barriers in front of folks with this difficulty, as you still have to make quick cursor clicks to get a permit.
Plus, you must have a fast internet connection. Covid has reminded us that many people, especially communities of color and rural and poor communities, do not have this resource.
I believe that the BLM is in favor of making its online systems as accessible as possible, which in this case will also directly increase the diversity of users in the natural areas that it manages.
100% correct, I’m surprised I don’t hear this more. I hope the BLM doesn’t listen to this part for selfish reasons though. My trigger finger and connection are dialed. Bots such as are used for popular wreck.gov campgrounds (and never for river permits - right!?) add strength to your privilege argument here.
 
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