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range from $3-$12 per night. The fee rate is determined on a local basis and is comparable to other public and private campgrounds where similar services are offered. The fee rate is adjusted periodically when warranted by comparisons with rates of other campgound providers. Before Fiscal Year 1981 these collected fees were placed into a separate account (not the Land and Water Conservation Fund) in accordance with Section 4(f) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act and were made available for appropriation, without prejudice to appropriation from other sources, for any outdoor recreation function from which the fees were collected. Sixty-five percent of the collected fees were returned to the National Forest to be used at the developed fee sites. Since Fiscal Year 1981, through appropriation language, these collected revenues have been placed into the Land and Water Conservation Fund and have not been returned to the National Forest where collected. Operation and maintenance funds for recreation sites have been provided annually through regular appropriations rather than from both the special account and regular
appropriations as was done prior to 1981.
Administration's Recreation Fee Budget Initiative
The President's Fiscal year 1986 Budget includes the proposal that revenues collected from recreation users should equal at least 25 percent of recreation costs for Federal land-managing agencies with recreation use. This proposal was based primarily on the principle that it was equitable for users of Federal recreation areas to pay a larger part of the costs of providing for the use rather than being funded by the general taxpayer.
An increase of $21 to $25 million for the Forest Service over current total recreation revenues is shown in both the President's budget and the Senate Budget Resolution. This increase cannot be accomplished under existing authorities.
Recommended Approach to Fee Increases
The prohibitions in Section 4(b) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act are particularly limiting in developing an equitable fee approach for the National Forest System. The Department of Agriculture recommends that these prohibitions be deleted so that we may charge a reasonable user fee at additional facilities where there are significant costs to provide and maintain the facilities. We anticipate that we would charge at approximately 3,000 additional high cost sites such as campgrounds, picnic grounds, boat launches, and swimming beaches where we provide facilities and services and it is cost effective to collect fees. Using a fee authority as we suggest, we estimate Land and Water Conservation Fund Act fee revenues would be approximately $28 million.
In some areas where we provide special management services or facilities that protect resources and help meet the visitor's needs, we would anticipate recovering a portion of those costs also.
We also recommend that revenues collected be returned to the units
as was in effect prior to Fiscal Year 1981 as described earlier under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. This would place collections into a special fund, 65 percent of which would be returned to the Forest, subject to appropriation.
Various recreation and wildlife user groups that we have been working with have clearly stated that for any fee system to be supported and successful, the collected fees should be returned for recreation purposes and supplement regular sources of funding. We believe that returning to the original Special Fund provision of Land and Water Conservation Fund Act would partially meet this need.
We also recommend that, for efficiency in administering our overall recreation program, provision be made that allows volunteers to serve as collection officers which would help us serve the public better and more efficiently.
The National Forest System is available for all Americans, but those who actually visit the recreation areas and use the related facilities derive a greater benefit than those who do not. We believe that the actual beneficiaries, the users of National Forest recreation facilities, should pay a higher percentage of the costs of maintaining those facilities. The recommendations we are making would provide authority to charge a reasonable fee to those persons taking advantage of recreation opportunities.
We support the need to constrain budget requests, particularly for programs that chiefly benefit those who participate in them. At the same time, the numbers of people visiting National Forest recreation areas require corresponding increases in maintenance costs. We urge adoption of our recommendations to remove the prohibitions in Section 4(b) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, to allow charges for special management services or facilities, to return the collected revenues to the Forests, and to allow volunteers to serve as collection offices.
We plan to continue to look at the long range recreation program needs
As a part of this recreation review, we may well
need to consider new ways beyond today's proposals to support our outdoor recreation programs. In the meantime, we consider these changes to the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act as essential to continue a recreation program that serves the public.
This concludes my prepared comments. questions the Committee might have.
I would be happy to answer any
Senator WALLOP: Thank you, Max. I appreciate that testimony. Mr. Bond.
STATEMENT OF BILLY J. BOND, MANAGER, OFFICE OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY, ACCOMPANIED BY PHILLIP MCKNELLY, CHIEF, LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES RECREATION PROGRAM, GOLDEN POND, KENTUCKY; AND ROBERT MARKER, PROJECT MANAGER, TVA RESERVOIR RECREATION PROJECT
Mr. BOND. Mr. Chairman, I'm pleased to be here today to present TVA's views. If it's OK with you, you have a copy of my statement, I'll just summarize the things, I think, that might be more important and move ahead.
Senator WALLOP. The whole statement will be in the record.
As a part of our development of the Tennessee River, we have developed a complex of a recreational facilities along the reservoir system. That's one part of the recreational facilities that TVA operates and manages. This particular part of our complex consists of 139 reservoir recreation areas, and it includes 34 campgrounds, 60 boat ramps, 32 day use areas, and 13 informal areas.
The other part of our recreational facilities that we have in the Tennessee Valley is an area in western Kentucky and western Tennessee that's called Land Between the Lakes. Land Between the Lakes [LBL] is a 170,000-acre outdoor recreation and demonstration facility that has more than 300 miles of undisturbed shoreline. Land Between the Lakes contains such traditional recreational opportunities as picnicing, camping, hiking, boating, and fishing, the same kinds of things that exist on the reservoir system in general, but it's also supplemented by TVA-sponsored educational programs and other activities, and in fact it contains a living history farm, a planetarium, a nature center and a contemporary small farm.
So what we do at Land Between the Lakes, in addition to the outdoor recreational experiences that people can enjoy there, it's also a place where we can add environmental education so they get an appreciation of living with the environment that we all should be concerned about.
We began collecting recreation use fees in 1965. The TVA Act provides that we have the statutory responsibility for collecting and retaining fees of the type that would be associated with recreation in these areas. We collect those in accordance with the provisions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, as amended. Each year we review public and private sector camping fees to determine the comparability of TVA charges and adjust our fees accordingly. At present we're collecting recreational use fees at 35 campgrounds on the TVA reservoir system and at 6 fee campgrounds and group camps in LBL. We also sell annual use permits for hunting at Land Between the Lakes.
In 1984 the total collections from all of our facilities was approximately $831,000. And we spent in operation and maintenance for the same facilities slightly in excess of $10 million, which means that we collect between 7 and 8 percent of the cost of operation and maintenance.
TVA is pleased that the administration is recommending expanding the discretionary authority of Federal agencies managing outdoor recreational facilities to charge admission and user fees to help defray the cost of providing Federal recreation benefits. We support this principle and think that the availability of high quality outdoor recreation areas would be enhanced if reasonable plans for users to pay a fair share of the cost could be developed.
We also support the discretionary authority of Federal agencies to establish admission or user fees at outdoor recreational facilities. However, the extent to which the cost of outdoor recreation programs may be defrayed through fees will vary from agency to agency and perhaps among various recreational facilities managed by the same agency.
For example, without going into detail, ours vary from 15 to 20 percent in some areas of the total cost of operation and maintenance to over 60 percent, while the majority of our facilities actually have no fees collected at all.
We feel that we could increase total collection, but as I've mentioned, we're not sure exactly how high. We think its unlikely that 25 percent of the operation and maintenance costs could be collected across the system because of the limitations that we have-in other words, we don't have much we can expand collections to right now, from what we're already doing.
It would also be very difficult for us to collect entrance fees at TVA recreation areas. For example, at LBL, TVA doesn't have control of the entrance roads, nor can we monitor or control lake access, and also the cost of collection would in all likelihood exceed the revenue collected.
In addition, Federal facilities may have other situations in which charging an admission fee is undesirable. For example, at LBL when we acquired that property, there were 51 active cemeteries, and we have to provide access to those cemeteries for the public who continue to use them. And in fact, the total number of sites on the LBL that we have to provide public access to exceeds 170.
We think it's appropriate for the collecting agency to continue to retain directly the fees collected, rather than have those fees returned to the Treasury. And the reason I say that is, we have found in collecting the hunter use fee at LBL, that the hunters