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We also suggest that if the Administration's policy of user fues is to be expanded that backpackers and other users of public lands, including wilderness areas also contribute their equitable share. we feel the present provisions of the LWCFA selectively apply a fee to certain users while allowing others to escape and is therefore discriminatory. Our members give generously of their time, labor, fuel and equipment costs in performing conservation projects on federal lands which would otherwise go undone or require expenditure of federal funds. Perhaps these contributions also merit consideration in a user fee structure.
There is also a need to consider application of the Golden Eagle and Golden Age Passport concept to "special recreation permit" users so that retirees and others who visit more than one national seasnore or other federal area are not assessed more than their equitable saare of costs, especially when there are no material federal costs connected with the privilege.
Enclosed for your information is a copy of our letter of April 24,1984 to the Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wilalife and Parks referred to earlier. It aetails our grievances with user fees at Assateague Island National Seashore. Many of the points raised are applicable elsewhere.
We trust your oversight hearings will produce substantive results that so far we have been unable to obtain from the Department. That they provide impetus through Congressional direction for movement by the Department to correct the inequities we believe exist.
We are appreciative of your interest in this matter and of the opportunity you have providea to offer our comment.
P.S. Enclosed also is a copy of a Dec.27,1984 letter to Senator Mathias from George T.English Jr (not a member of our organization) which is one of a series of letters to the Senator on the same issue at a National Wildlife Refuge.
The Honorable Charles McC. Mathias
Weber Building, Suite 212
9420 Annapolis Road Lanham, Maryland 20760
3508 Woodridge Avenue
Re: Your transmittal letter dated
Dear Senator Mathias:
I want to thank you for your assistance in securing a reply from the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to my complaint about the management of off-road vehicles (ORV's) at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (R). Although I appreciate receiving the organization's answer to my letter of October 4, 1984, which stated specific NWR management abuses, I do not agree that FWS' reply dated November 19, 1984 was responsive to my concerns. In this letter, I will separate my rejoinder into (1) legal/user equity issues, and (2) ecological/environmental protection issues.
The FWS reply did not mention the fraudulent aspect of the present Chincoteague NUR ORV management plan. To "oversell" access or charge one distinct group of users fees for access while not charging other distinct user groups fees for access to Assateague Island is blatant discrimination against the penalized group. tio fees are charged to non-ORV users of the Chincoteague NWR, but ORV users who wish to drive in the designated beach areas are first required to purchase a weekly permit for $10 or an annual permit for $35. In contrast, the National Park Service (NPS) charges all vehicles $2 for daily access or $10 for an annual permit (i..e, the "Golden Eagle") to visit our national parks. Hence, it is hard to accept the notion that all of the costs for providing access to Assateague Island are due only to FHS' provision of added services for the small number of ORV users, while the vast majority of other users (who require facilities, life guards, trash cans, paved reads/parking areas, etc.) are responsible for none of the cost. Other than a planked ramp over the primary dune, two air stations, and a few signs along the beach, ORV owners receive no more services than do other users from the HIR. Consequently, it is my conclusion that the fees charged to ORV users are deliberately designed to be discriminatory and punitive.
If the FWS were truly concerned about equitable treatment of the public, it would charge all users the same basic access fee, with a modest surcharge for those ORV users who desire to use the designated ORV beach areas. Accordingly, I propose that FWS charge all vehicular users (except bicycles) the same fee for access to Chincoteague HR as does the NPS for access to the national parks (i.e., $2 daily/$10 annually). An additional $1 daily/$5
annually should be charged to ORV users desiring access to the designated beaches. In any case, the daily access fee and ORV surcharge should not be collected if vehicular access is limited because of crowded conditions, as Occasionally occurs during summer weekend periods. Furthermore, current NPS "Golden Eagle" pass and Federal waterfowl stamp (i.e., duck stamp) holders should be allowed free entry to NWRS.
With respect to the FS reply to my criticism of the 12 vehicle per mile standard used to limit access to the designated ORV beach areas, the FWS reply did not provide any supporting documentation for its position. No mention was made of previous studies conducted to support the imposition of the 12 vehicle per mile "standard," only the need to conduct new studies if the so-called "standard" were to be exceeded. What proof is there that 13 or 23 vehicles per mile would irreparably harm the environment? Consequently, the FWS "standard" is arbitrary and capricious!
Before denying access to the tax paying citizens, the FWS managers ought to be sure of their facts! In support of my assertion that their "standard" is indefensible, I suggest that they visit the Hatteras Island National Seashore in North Carolina, specifically the Cape Point beach area where unlimited/uncontrolled ORV access is permitted by the National Park Service. No fees are charged, no inspection of vehicles is required, and no services other than planked ramps over the primary dune and a fish cleaning table are provided. Despite the extremely heavy ORV use of this area, the plentiful number of sea birds which abound at Cape Point belies any suspicion that the NPS is derelict in performing its duties through its low-key management approach!
Finally, the use of Executive Orders 11644 and 11989 as a substitute for Congressional Legislation is suspiciously like "government-by-decree" that characterizes many third world and most socialist governments. The NPS seems to interpret its mandate under these Executive Orders far differently than does the FHS, thus the dichotomy in the management approaches for ORV's at Cape Hatteras versus Assateague Island. Management of our natural resources does not have to mean absolute totalitarian control, as the difference in ORV management philosophies between these two Department of Interior agencies indicates. The HR areas under FS supervision were not established initially with the intent of fostering discrimination and extortion upon one group of visitors under the guise of "protecting the environment." Assessed fees should reflect actual costs and should be charged equitably to all users of NWR facilities, not just ORV operators desiring access to the designated beach areas.
I suggest that the Congress investigate and rectify the bureaucratic abuses which the arbitrary and discriminatory behavior of the Fish and Wildlife Service has caused by its government-by-decree (i.e., administrative fiat) approach to citizens' legitimate rights.
Thank you for your continued assistance in resolving this matter.
George T. English, Jr.
National Coalition For Marine Conservation National Outdoor Coalition • United Iour Wheel Drive Aquariatoratan,
(617) 52 04.04
Fish, Wildlife and Parks
At the March UMS meeting I became aware of
In a period of three years the fee was increased six fold. I can think of no other federal entry/use fee that has seen this sort of escalation. It has no connection whatsoever to the inflationary rate or comparable services and facilities provided commensurate with the increase.
Apparently there has not even been an increa se in law enforcement presence or the beach to assure visitor safety and resource protection so that the 144 vehicle limit could be raised and therefore end the frustration of those who have come to fish and are turned away because the limit has been reached. (The reasonableness of this 144 vehicle limit is afrother matter that needs to be discussed at another time.)
In sum, the increases are without rational justification and are exhorbitant.I can only hope that they are not deliberately intended to "sock it to" the mobile sportfisherman, but from where I sit one might make a case for this sort of discrimination.
In addition, while the short term visitor was recognized in the 1962 hike by establishing a lesser fee (of $:0) in 1962, it is unfortunately among this cluss that a greater monitoring of misconduct is necessary. Their fee was not effected by the 1984 nixes; thus in the three year period their increase has been a two fold one so that they are not bearing a comparableshare of enforcement personnel costs, which in any event has not been committed
In examining the statutory fee setting criteria which was authorized by the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (LWCFA). we find that it (18 USC 4601-6a(d)) specifies that fees shall be fair and equitable, taking into consideration the direct and indirect costs to the government, benefits to the recipient, the public policy or interest served, the comparable recreation fees charged by non-Federal public agencies.The LWCFA
(16 USC 4601a(c)) authorizes special recreation permit fees for "motorized recreation vehicle" uses.
In accordance with each of these criteria we offer the following comment:
a. Fair and equitable
We believe the fee is neither. The cost of a Golden Eagle Passport for free admission to all entrance fee units is 10 and provides access to real property capital investments provided by the government as well as to services provided by NPS rersonnel. The vehicle permit fee exceeds the cost of this passrort and only allows access to one unit,AINS.
The Golden Age Passport is provided free of charge to those who attain age 62 (and the similar free lifetime admission permit for federally recognized disable persons) and provides free admission these units. The later two permits/rassports rrovide a 50% discount on recreation use fees for use of major federal investments such as campgrounds which can charge a use fee of as little as $3 per day for group use; often in direct competition with similar facilitie /services offered by the private sector, which charge fees well in excess of federal use fees.There is no similar discount for senior citizens or disabled trying to live on a fired income in regard to the vehicle fee, which was the cost of the Golden Fagle Passport a counle of years ago and which is now three times its cost.
b. Direct and indirect government costs
There have been no capital investments,direct or indirect, by the government for the area of mobile sportfishing use. The only cost expense incurred is that necessary for law enforcement for which a personnel expense would be required even in the absence of any mobile sportfishing activity. There has been no discernable increase in enforcement activity since inception of rermit fees or any other service or beneficial return to permitees that are funneled back to enhance this particular outdoor recreational program. In addition, members of Assateague Mobile Sportfishermen are available to assist the NPS with conservation and volunteer projects in the use area if needed to help minimize any excenses. Rather, it seems, the fee is nothing more than a revenue raising measure that has now been raised to the level that the traffic will bear, even if it will result in denial of access to the shore for those unaule to afford the cost of access for their sport.
c. Benefits to the recipient
The permit allows mooile sportfishing and hunting access to seashore resources. Without it such access would be confined to an extremely limited area thereby severely curtailing ocess to the majority of resources and eliminating the opportunity to search