Friends of Cougar
Friends of Cougar: Your voice
We welcome your comments. Please send your comments to Comments@FriendsOfCougar.com.
The following comments are posted here with permission from their authors:
From Scott W. 11/20/05:
From Dylan H. 8/10/05:
To D. Smith,
In response to your message, I will be addressing some of the issues
you brought up. People who sit in the hot springs like watchdogs are
the reason there is not glass in the bottom of the pools (although we
can read clearly that sometimes there still is: see News section
8/7/05). Alcohol (glass or not) has been the cause for some nearly
physically confrontational conflicts at the springs (News 5/4/05 and
6/2/05). It is implausible to structure rules in gray scale surrounding
alcohol. Say a cocktail is ok, but someone else may see that and go,
"Oh cool, I can get loaded up here!"
Never have I chastised others for doing things that make me
uncomfortable aside from those things that are forbaid by the rules. I
have listened to people up there philosophize about whatever loudly and
obnoxiously, and said nothing. Yeah what they said I did not agree
with, but it didn't matter because they weren't breaking any rules and I
am in no position to criticize them.
Not everyone is willing to speak up when the rules are being
broken. I have a right and a responsibility to uphold the rules that
are set in place to keep a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere at the
springs for everyone. These rules were not set into place to prohibit
your activities. They were set into place to prevent potentially good
things (a drink or two) from getting out of hand (getting wasted). Not
everyone has good discipline with alcohol.
Is it ok to drink around young children? Maybe it is, but getting
wasted around kids is a little too much for many parents to handle. I
must assume someone will take it too far if there is room left for
debate on this matter. Is it ok to smoke cigarettes or weed next to
children? It is a community space and when a person comes to it they
must consider how their actions affect _everyone_.
As for considering the needs of people who want to bend these rules,
(conflicting with the needs of individuals who don't drink or smoke
aside) many parents can't handle their kids inhaling second hand smoke
or being around alcohol. People can live without alcohol while soaking,
and they can get out to smoke a cigarette. These efforts on your part
are appreciated greatly, thank you for accommodating others. I am sorry
if the current set of rules prevents you from enjoying your soak. You
said yourself, "Just remember that ... what makes you comfortable isn't
In closing I am stating these things not in offense of what you have
written, but in support of what I believe to be an important set of
rules to follow. In the long run they do more good than harm. Also my
claim is yes I am standing up for others' rights, but whether or not I
am looking beyond my own beliefs is irrelevant...the list of rules
remains the same.
From D. Smith 4/27/05:
Dear Friends of Cougar,
I have signed up to receive your messages and I would like to start off by saying that it is nice to see so much caring for the welfare of the springs. I agree with the fees and beleive that the springs are a lot cleaner than they have ever been in the past. I have been a springs user for about twenty years now. My issue is with the people who sit in the springs like watch dogs voicing what they like and dislike. You know who you are. Just remember that your opinion and what makes you comfortable isn't for everyone. Some of these people up there seem to get off on telling others, "hey that offends me." I say if your so easily offendable then stay home where you may create your own perfect environment. Although I never got drunk, I for one miss having a cocktail while I soak, I have always left the pools to smoke unless it was a circle, and I have never carried glass in my pack. I am so glad these rules have been put in place to prohibit my activities to make YOUR soak more enjoyable, thank you for ruining it for ME and those who enjoy MY kind of relaxation. It's funny how those who claim to stand up for all peoples rights cannot see beyond their own beliefs.
From Dylan H. 4/20/05:
First off I want to thank Greg
and all the members of the hotsprings
community that, over the years, have helped to keep this place open.
What I want to convey here in the next few words I'm typing, is my
utter dissapointment in people who cause the messes that cost money to
clean up. What we do, as guests in this space, directly affects all who
visit the hot springs. The people I am referring to know who they are.
Those who bring cigarrettes, joints, glass beer bottles and cans, drugs,
and overbearingly grotesque behavior to the pools are the people who
give rise to the situation we are now faced with. It seems worse in the
last year, that people have been bringing more alcahol into the
pools...and leaving the remenants of their 'partying' behind. I have
personally removed shards of glass from the pools. The rules are very
simple: No Alcahol, No Smoking, No pets, No Drugs, No Glass. Marijuana
is a drug as well, and I find its odor and effect on people to be
offensive. You can take these things anywhere else, but NOT to cougar
hot springs. I know the desire to bend the rules so you can have a
little more fun, but what happens is others have less fun. Also others
see you bending the rules, so more and more people think they can bend
the rules. Pretty soon it gets out of control, then you have to start
policing and janitorial servicing the hot springs, and this costs. What
we see now is a direct result of these negative actions: the fee is
increasing and there is to be supervision at the parkinglot. I don't
know about all of you but I would rather soak in this space without
someone looking over my shoulder, you know? Think about what you are
bringing to the hotsprings when you take alcahol or any of these other
things with you. You are bringing hurt to us all. Leave these things
at the door, please.
Second, I really agree with alot of what Mr. Rosen has to say. Chuck
does seem like a very reasonable and open person, despite what the
stereotypes about profitable buisness owners might say. Not everyone
who deals in a lot of money is a total cretin. I believe we really
should just let this change happen. To keep trying to replace Hoodoo as
the managing organization at this point seems to be futile. Right now
we need to be working with what we have, and negotiate with hoodoo on
what restrictions and regulations are going to change and which ones are
not. As far as the fee goes? I believe we must pay for what we use in
life. Nothing is free. I am sure that a significant volunteer effort
could manage to clean, maintain and protect the hotsprings. The problem
is that right now, the forest service hasn't the ability to organize
volunteers for this effort. Hoodoo might be willing to do this, but
they must be able to sustain at least a balanced budget as far as
sinking financial rescources into the hot springs. Hoodoo doesn't want
to channel profits from its ski resort into caring for this hotsprings
anymore than you want to shell out $5 or $50 just to soak in it. One day
we may be able to substitute volunteer control of the hot springs, but
that day is not now. For now paid personell are the only reliable
option for care of the springs. We need to work with what we have, and
be looking toward an ideal and reliable way to replace the money-based
managing system of the springs. I think we should learn from the 'lost
battle' and optomistically search for another way to acheive our
objectives. I recognize that is basically what we are doing, but I
think we are putting too much effort into tactics that won't bear fruit.
Finally I just want to say that I really have enjoyed all of my visits
to cougar, despite alcahol or obnoxious situations. I will do what I
can with pragmatism to help the hotsprings be affordable and enjoyable.
A note to all of you who read this, many hands make light work...as long
as we know where to put them. We cannot do this thing without the great
leadership from people like Greg and the newly elected board of
directors. Thanks to you all, and good luck.
From Evan Rosen:
I've been watching closely, and
with great interest
what has been taking place the last several days.
Initially, I sent my name in for consideration for the
Board of Directors, but since I live in Minnesota, I
didn't think I could be as effective as people who
were there close to Cougar. I want to make some
observations. Hopefully I won't offend anyone.
I've been coming to Cougar for about 10 years, and
usually getting there 3-4 times a year. I generally
soak at 15-20 hot springs a year. I love soaking in
free, clothing optional, mellow settings with good
people. If it were up to me there would be no
concrete, juice bars, clothing required, fees and no
drunks, litterers, perverts or people who acted in a
way that diminished the peaceful relaxing enjoyment of
others. I've seen what's happened and happening at
Scenic, Meadow, Pah Tempe and a number of other public
and private hot springs. It's disheartening at best
and damn scary at worst.
I'm an attorney. I've brokered hundred of deals. I'm
primarily a litigator and love a good fight. In this
case, I'm going to suggest something that may rile a
few of you; Compromise.
A dirty word when we fear what we have to lose, but a
word that may more accurately reflect the reality of
the Cougar situation. Not capitulation. I don't
advocate giving in on any major issue. Cement in the
pools. Clothing optional. Juice bars. Turning Cougar
into an "attraction". Those are all non-negotiable.
But what I read here "seems" to suggest that there is
room for compromise. I know the Forest Service and the
BLM. Their main concern is not getting rid of the
hippies. It's avoiding losing money and dealing with
the vandalism and complaints. They're the Government
after all. Bureaucratic, generally overworked and
inefficient. So they've decided to drop this mess (as
they perceive the Cougar situation) and turn it over
to someone else.
I've read what Chuck from Hoodoo has written. It
sounds reasonable. It sounds practical. Do I want to
see the fees raised to $5? Of course not. Do I want to
see a bunch of new rules that diminish my enjoyment of
quietly lying naked in hot water in a beautiful place?
Of course not. But, I do want to see an end to the
vandalism at the parking area. I do want to see an end
to garbage and drunks. The Friends of Cougar can and
have done a lot to take care of all the potential
problems. Everyone who has ever had a truly wonderful
Cougar day should send Greg Thorne a thank you note.
He's doing an amazing job here and I for one say THANK
So where are we in this situation. It appears that no
matter what we do, for the next 4-5 years, Hoodoo will
be the vendor who is contracted to "take care" of
Cougar. Should we give up? Should we walk away before
we have exhausted all possibilities? Certainly not.
But we should be prepared for how the Government works
and for the statistical probability that Hoodoo is
here to stay for the next 4-5 years. It's not
acceptable to me to fight and lose. I want us to fight
and win. If we can't win the fight, we can still win
the result. Compromise. Not on the basics, but on the
I believe we should have someone from the newly
elected Board, or someone designated by them, to begin
to work closely with Chuck to address our concerns. If
this was a business deal I was brokering for a client
I would call Chuck and say the following;
Look Chuck, it appears that your group may very
well succeed at getting this contract. My group is
going to work as hard as we can to get it ourselves,
but if we don't succeed, it is very much in our
interest to work with you towards the goals that we
feel are essential to the Cougar hot spring community.
And if indeed your group prevails, we want to already
be in a very real, meaningful, honest and open
discussion about what role we can play in safeguarding
our interests, while recognizing you have, for the
time being, been selected as the vendor.
I've got to believe that Chuck would not turn away
free help in the pursuit of keeping Cougar safe and
enjoyable. He seems open to listening to our concerns.
Maybe I'm naive but his emails, which he was in no way
obligated to post here, have been very open and
suggest a strong willingness to listen to our
concerns. If we get to the point where we are not
going to win this battle right now, let's extend the
same offer of openness and cooperation to Chuck and
allow him the opportunity to show us he is what he
says he is. Even though I'm a lawyer I still believe
that there are good, honest, decent people in this
world. Even though I'm trained to fight, I recognize
the value in negotiation, cooperation and yes,
Even though I'm geographically far away, I offer
whatever I can do to help in this situation. Some
things in life are more important then others. Keeping
Cougar as a pristine, joyful, sacred space for our
community is definitely one of them.
I lived in Oregon in the late eighties and early nineties, about five years. When I lived there Cougar was free, nudity allowed, a wonderful mellow place. There may have been a fee the very last time I was there; can’t remember. I remember soaking in the springs as snow came down many times. I would love to see it preserved. I am totally against cementing the bottoms of the pools, putting in gravel on the path, etc – ruins the natural experience that people come to it for. How I miss it!
I voted; thank you for keeping me in the loop. Its’ the most beautiful hot spring I ever had the pleasure of visiting.
To: Forest Service
I and my husband make frequent trips to Cougar Hot
Springs, and we are so very pleased with the way that Friends of Cougar have
helped build and maintain the springs. It is a unique
place and the loving care from Friends of Cougar has
helped keep it that way.
We request that you hold off on your decisions about who will manage the springs and give the Friends of Cougar a chance to develop a Non-profit that can serve this purpose.
I live in Washington and have been down to cougar only a couple of times but found it to be exceptionally nice. Over the years I have seen other natural location change not for the better, because of them being control only for profit, I would hope this is not going to happen to cougar, I would like you to consider holding off on having Hoodoo manage it and let the friend of cougar Have a opportunity to keep it as natural as it is today.
Dear Ms. Allison-
I am writing to you to ask that you please delay any action on finalizing the management of Terwilliger/Cougar Hot Springs by Hoodoo’s management team. I and my family are but a few of the people who enjoy using Terwilliger and the value it provides our family through our annual pass. We also appreciate the natural state and relaxed atmosphere of the Springs. We are deeply concerned that corporate management of this unique area will result in not only greater costs that many cannot bear, but also a fundamental change in the character of this unique area. Thank you,
What's the rush? Why not wait a couple of weeks and think this thing through about having Hoodoo take over management of the hot springs? The Forest Service all too often shoots from the hip and goes into things half baked. I've been using the springs for nearly 40 years. Given a chance to organize, Friends of Cougar can handle the situation in a much more efficient manner than a private profit seeking company.
The springs have been there for thousands fo years. Surely a few more weeks are not too much to ask in working out a plan. Measure twice, cut once, my grandpa used to tell me.
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