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Major Issues to consider

You may wish to consider the following issues or concerns regarding recreation fees at Thursday's hearing.

Philosophy

How valid is the Administration's (and other's) view that users of federal recreation lands should pay a larger share?

Is this concept more applicable to user fees such as
camping than to entrance or admission fees?

How much of a burden should the visitor bear? The Senate Budget Resolution comtemplates 25 percent. Is that not enough or too much? How does one determine such a figure?

Do other users of the federal lands (e.g. those who graze cattle, or cut timber, etc.) also bear a fair share of the costs associated with the federal investment in those activities?

Level of Fees

Assuming that fees are increased, how much of an increase
is reasonable? In economic terms, how "price elastic" is
the demand for visits to federal lands? Studies have
shown that in theory people are willing to pay higher fees
but oes this willingness as determine by surveys
translate into a willingness to really pay higher fees?

Although entrance fees are frozen, user fees are not. Since FY 1980, user fees have increased from $19,644,600 to $35,058,750 in FY 1984 a 44% increase. How much more should these fees be increased?

National Park entrance fees which are frozen at 1979 levels currently total approximately $8.2 million and range from $0.50 to $3.00 per vehicle. How much additional revenue should these fees bring in? How fast should they rise, if at all? Is it reasonable to charge the public $3.00 - $6.00 per vehicle to drive into a park and spend only a few hours?

Should a new fee policy be implemented with new authority for higher fees, how do Congress and the agencies ensure that OMB won't use this new authority as a means to make unrealistic budget assumptions and demands for higher and higher levels of revenue?

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How Should The Fees Be Used

Once collected, how should the fee revenues be used?
Should they be returned to the agency or even the specific
unit or should they be used as they are now to acquire new
recreation lands? Is it reasonable to make these funds
subject to appropriation or should they be available
without further appropriation?
If the fee revenues are credited to the agencies, will OMB
insist that regular operating budgets be reduced
accordingly? It should be noted that Congressional
concern about an explicit linkage of this sort resulted in
,the entrance fee freeze in the first place.

Admission Fees for Forest Service and BLM Lands

Without huge park entrance and user fee increases, the
only way to meet the Administration's goal of collecting
$82 million in new fees seems to be to institute some type
of entrance fee for National Forests and the BLM. Does it
make sense to charge the public an entrance fee for these
types of federal lands? How do you collect such fees when
there may be literally hundreds of access points?

Should you have any questions about the upcoming hearing or desire any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at 4-7145.

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