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Do you support the recommendation contained in the President's 1986 Budget to increase recreation fees to recover 25 percent of the cost of Federal outdoor recreation programs?


As we stated in our written testimony of June 27, 1985, TVA is supportive of legislation to increase the discretionary authority of Federal agencies to establish reasonable admission or user fees to help defray the cost of providing Federal recreation benefits. We support the principle underlying the proposed legislation and think that the availabilty of high-quality outdoor recreation areas could be enhanced if reasonable plans for users to pay a fair share of costs could be developed. However, we question the feasibility of collecting at least 25 percent of the overall cost of Federal outdoor recreation programs through fees.

In our opinion, the extent to which the cost of outdoor recreation programs may be defrayed through fees may vary from agency to agency, and among various recreation facilities managed by the same agency. For example, at TVA's Land Between The Lakes (LBL), the fees collected at family campgrounds and group camps cover 61 percent and 46 percent, respectively, of operation and maintenance costs. However, there are other types of TVA facilities, such as boat ramps, trails, and picnic areas, where fees would likely only cover a small fraction of their operation and maintenance costs. In fact, a fee charge would probably be impractical at many of these areas due to prohibitive collection costs. The establishment of entrance fees at most TVA recreation areas also would not be practical because of the additional costs for fee collection and access control problems.

While TVA favors the principle of enhancing public recreation opportunities through the collection of reasonable fees from the users of Federal recreation facilities, we are concerned that the recommendation to recoup 25 percent of the overall cost of Federal outdoor recreation programs may neither be achievable from a practical standpoint nor desirable as a matter of policy.

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United States Department of the Interior


WASHINGTON, b.27 20240

OCT 2 4 1985



Honorable Malcolm Wallop

Chairman, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Reserved

Water and Resource Conservation

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Wallop:

This is in response to your July 9, 1985, letter to Frank Edwards, Assistant Director, Land Resources, Bureau of Land Management, and your September 12, 1985, letter to Secretary Hodel which provided four questions directed to the Bureau of Land Management pertaining to the Subcommittee's June 27, 1985, oversight hearing on recreation fees as authorized in the "Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965."

Answers to the questions are enclosed. We trust the information is helpful. Should you need additional information, please let us know.

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Question: Please provide the Subcommittee with an overview of fees currently collected on BLM lands and what the agency might recommend for the future.

Answer: Recreation fees currently being collected by BLM are of two types user fees and permit fees. User fees are charged at those BLM sites that meet the facility requirements of section 4(b) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (LWCFA) (16 U.S.C. 4601-6a(b)). These are primarily campgrounds. In FY '84, BLM collected $122,050 at 57 developed campgrounds. Special recreation permit fees are collected by BLM for permits that are issued primarily to authorize commercial and competitive recreation activities. Permits are also issued to groups and individuals by BLM in areas where special management is required to protect resources, control user conflicts, or to increase safety. Permits were issued at 165 BLM areas in FY '84 and $604,810 was collected.

The BLM recommends that:

(1) Fees collected be returned to BLM for operation and maintenance of recreation facilities. Such fees would be expected to supplement base appropriations for recreation purposes.

(2) The facility requirements in section 4(b) of the LWCFA should be modified to permit charging fees at all sites where costs are incurred and/or it is necessary to regulate use to protect the users or the resource. Fees will not be charged unless receipts are expected to cover collection costs.

(3) Criteria and procedures for setting fees should be set forth in regulations.

(4) Government agencies be granted the authority to provide for the sale of permits and the collection of fees by volunteers, business and nonprofit organizations.

The BLM does not believe that charges should be assessed where no goods or service is being provided, where areas do not have relatively controlled access or for entry of multiple-use lands for general recreation use not necessitating special management or facilities. Economic and administrative feasibility would be carefully assessed before establishing entrance, permit, or user fees.

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2. Question: Is the Administration's budget proposal to recover 25 percent of recreation costs through new and increased fees realistic for the BLM?

Answer: Not under current law. While recreation fees collected by BLM in FY '84 amounted to about 7 percent of BLM's recreation budget, BLM estimates that, under existing authority, its recreation income in FY '86 should approximate 12 percent of its expected recreation budget. Although we are not sure at the present time whether we can reach the 25 percent target, if the facilities requirements of section 4(b) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (16 U.S.C. 4601–6a(b)) were modified to the extent that BLM could charge user fees at more campsites and facilities where economically feasible along with limited entrance and permit fees, BLM's estimated revenue could increase significantly upon full implementation.

3. Question: User fees collected by the BLM jumped from $66,200 in 1982 to $122,050 in 1984. To what do you attribute this doubling of receipts?

Answer: Facing substantial increases in costs of operating and maintaining recreational areas, BLM reviewed its fee schedule policy and found that user fees should be increased to be more comparable to other local and regional campground charges. The BLM also upgraded some of its sites to meet the criteria in section 4(b) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (16 U.S.C. 4601-6a(b)) and thus was able to begin charging at more sites.

4. Question: Should individuals residing on property contiguous to BLM land be forced to pay each time they pass through Federal lands?

Answer: The answer is no. We do not believe that entrance fees should be charged for general entry or travel on public roads within, or casual use of, public lands. Fees should be assessed only where facilities or services are provided that specifically benefit the users. As noted above, before an entrance fee area is established, a thorough evaluation of administrative feasibility and costs would be made.

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United States Department of the Interior


Honorable Malcolm Wallop

United States Senate

Washington, D.C.


Dear Senator Wallop:

NOV 14 1985

Enclosed are our responses to the questions you raised in your July 9, 1985, letter to Mr. James Gillett, regarding recreation fees on National Wildlife Refuges. I apologize for the delay in responding. Thank you for the

opportunity to provide you with these answers, and if further questions arise please contact us.


Ronald & Lambertson

Acting Deputy',



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