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In addition, Federal facilities may have other
situations in which charging an admission fee is undesirable. For
example, LBL has 51 active cemeteries and provides cemetery access at an
additional 170 sites.
We do not think admission fees would be
appropriate for visitors entering a Federal facility to visit a cemetery
located at that facility.
We also believe it is appropriate for the collecting agency to continue to
retain directly the fees collected rather than have those fees returned to
Such a retention system provides an incentive for each
agency to collect all feasible fees and also increases user acceptance of
fees--clearly, they will be used to offset costs where that particular
user is likely to benefit in the future.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, this concludes my prepared
I would be happy to answer any questions that you might have.
Senator WALLOP. Thank you very much, Mr. Bond.
STATEMENT OF DONALD DILLON, DEPUTY FOR POLICY PLAN
NING AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY (CIVIL WORKS)
Mr. DILLON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Donald Dillon, Deputy for Policy Planning and Legislative Affairs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
Mr. Dawson, the Acting Assistant Secretary, was scheduled to be here, but was unavoidably diverted at the last moment. He sends his regrets.
I'd like to summarize his statement if I could, Mr. Chairman.
The Corps of Engineers administers the second-largest Federal outdoor recreation program, and while we experience more public use than the National Park Service, a fact that's surprising to many, our product is different. The majority of our 460 water resources projects that offer recreation are close to the communities they serve. Our users look to us for an evening of fishing, a weekend away from their daily routine, or a low-cost vacation close to home.
They come largely to boat, fish, swim, and camp. They expect reasonable facilities in an attractive setting, properly maintained, and with adequate security. Our experience with campers, the only recreational user group we're authorized to charge, suggests that users are entirely agreeable to paying for the services they receive.
This is similar to the overall trend we see developing regarding all water resources projects in which beneficiaries pay a reasonable share of the cost to produce the benefits. Efforts to more equitably share the cost of recreation through entrance fees is consistent with this trend.
Of the 4,200 recreation areas on the 11 million acres of land and water we administer, 2,200 are directly managed by the corps. Of these 2,200, we are authorized to collect user fees at only 600. Since the mid-1970's, the corps has experienced an increase in the amount of fees collected as well as in the number of people who visit their projects. Like other land management agencies, the corps authority for collection of user fees restricts such fees to uses of highly developed facilities, primarily overnight campgrounds, requiring continuous presence of personnel for maintenance and supervision of facilities.
Recreationists who use similar facilities but do not remain overnight pay no fees. In 1984, the corps collected $1042 million in user fees, which was approximately 8 percent of the cost to provide recreation services at all fee and nonfee areas. However, the net return to the Federal Government was $8.3 million when one considers the $2.2 million cost of collection.
Fees are deposited in a special Treasury account and are available the year following collection for appropriation back to the same corps divisions for use in the operation, maintenance, refurbishment and improvement of recreation areas.
The Department of the Army budget proposal for fiscal year 1986 reflects an expansion of the present fee collection program to allow recovery from the users of a much higher percentage of the annual cost to sustain recreational facilities. However, changes in the authority of the corps to collect fees would be needed in order to realize this increase.
On February 20 of this year, we submitted to the Senate the proposed Water Resources Development Act of 1985. This proposal was introduced as S. 534 on February 28 by Senator Stafford, by request. It contains a provision to repeal the Flood Control Act of 1968 provision which restricts the corps to collection of fees for use of highly developed recreation areas only.
The administration believes the current law should be changed to authorize collection of fees from all users of recreation areas, not just from the users of campground facilities.
It is our belief that any new recreation fee legislation should authorize the collection of reasonable entrance fees and should remove statutory limitations on user fee collection. This approach would allow the corps, along with the other agencies, to develop an equitable and uniform system for Federal recreation without unfairly competing with non-Federal and private sector suppliers.
The legislation included in S. 534 would help permit us to continue providing high-quality recreation opportunities. Economic and budgetary realities are limiting our ability to meet recreation funding needs; yet the number of visitors to the corps projects continues to increase. Enactment of this proposal would remove the existing corps specific restraint to the collection of user fees. However, further legislation would be required to authorize the collection of entrance fees from all users of corps recreation areas.
With legislation allowing expanded revenue from recreation fees, we could recover 25 percent of the cost of operating, maintaining, refurbishing, and improving corps recreation areas as proposed in the President's budget. This fee approach will more equitably distribute a portion of the total costs of the recreation areas among those users who benefit most from them.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. This concludes my oral statement.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dawson follows:)
ROBERT K. DAWSON
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OF THE ARMY (CIVIL WORKS)
SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC LANDS, RESERVED WATER
AND RESOURCE CONSERVATION
THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON
ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
JUNE 27, 1985
NOT FOR RELEASE
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Robert K. Dawson,
Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
I am pleased to appear before your subcommittee today to discuss
recreation fees as they relate to Army Corps of Engineers water resources
projects. My statement addresses the issues raised by the Chairman in his
letter of invitation to testify.
CURRENT STATUS OF RECREATION FEES
The Army Corps of Engineers administers the second largest Federal
On 11 million acres of land and water, the Corps has
developed 4,200 sites which are being used at a rate of over 480 million
Of the 4,200 total sites 2,200 are managed by the Corps,
and of these, fees for use of specialized recreational facilities are
collected at only 600. Since the mid 1970's, the Corps has experienced an
increase in the amount of fees collected as well as in the number of people
who visit their projects.
Like other land management agencies, the Corps
authority for collection of user fees restricts such fees to uses of highly
developed facilities, primarily overnight camp grounds, requiring continuous
presence of personnel for maintenance and supervision of the facilities.
Recreationists who use similar facilities, but do not remain overnight, pay no
In 1984, the Corps collected $10.5 million in user fees, which was
approximately 8% of the cost to provide recreational services at all fee and
However, the net return to the Federal government is $8.3
million, considering the $2.2 million cost of collection.
The fees are
deposited in a special Treasury account and are available, the year following