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through discussion and research.
Additionally, managers of specific
recreation areas must weigh the preservation of leisure experiences
against funding realities, private competition, local value systems,
regional economic conditions, agency policies, quality of the opportunities provided, and the logistics of fee collection.
guide to such site-specific work, however, four general policy
guidelines are offered that reflect an ethical commitment to the
preservation of leisure opportunities and are sufficiently general
to apply to a variety of areas.
First, as has long been recommended in community recreation
(e.g. Rodney 1964), the impression of unsympathetic external control
should be minimized.
Fees should be set by policy and not by
opportunity; services should be based upon need and not upon
Once a decision has been made to levy a charge on
direct users, the most unobtrusive method available should be
chosen. Thus, recreation permits like fishing licenses, or excise taxes on critical equipment would be preferable to on-site entrance
User fees should be explicitly targeted for the maintenance
and expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities, and visitors
should be informed of the enhanced opportunities through
Second, fee structures should reflect the degree to which an
experience is based on unconfined.freedom and personal choice.
Selway River in Idaho, for example, offers a four to ten day
challenging w110 river trip, entirely through classified wilderness,
with drinkable river water and unregulated camping.
One party per
day (most of which are private parties) is permitted to launch so
that opportunities for sol1tude and unconfined recreation may be
If we are to encourage the experience of personal
freedom, a fee for this experience would be inappropriate.
River Gorge National River in West Virginia also offers a highly
challenging river trip.
However, 92 percent of the 82,000 people
who float this river each year participate in commercially outfitted
trips with a guide in each raft.
Decisions about equipment, food,
transportation, scheduling and safety are all made for the
Almost all trips are day trips.
A head tax for the New
River experience seems more justifiable than for the Selway.
Third, recreation experiences clearly based on education or
contemplation should be free.
These are as much a merit good as
education in the public schools.
Most forms of outdoor programming
(interpretation, environmental or outdoor education) would fall into
institutions and commercial outfitters in a 1984 revision of their
outfitting and guiding permit policy (Federal Register 1984).
benefits provided, especially to disadvantaged clients, specifically exempt a non-profit organization from paying for a commercial
A similar rationale should apply in the selective
application of other user fees.
Finally, user fees might be structured to support leisure
subcultures, rather than impeding their development.
Towered fees are attached to specific experiences (e.g. season passes for hang giiding in a national forest), then the fee itself
may communicate support for serious individual commitment to the
activity. This effect could, of course, be enhanced through other symbols of group membership 11ke cards or patches, opportunities for
participants to volunteer their efforts in management of the activity, or through specially targeted interpretive activities. In addition, reduced fees for repeat visitors may communicate support
for long-term involvement.
The generalizations we offer here suggest that user fees can
be compatible with an emerging ethical imperative for the park and
They will only be compatible, however, if
they reflect a well-formed philosophy guiding the total management
examine some of the historical and philosophical issues involved in
pay-as-you-go recreation, and to suggest an ethical framework from
which to proceed. As we said in the beginning, fees seem justifiable, expeditious, and inevitable. Our hope is that they may
be applied judiciously by conscientious professionals, and not as a quick fix for å sagging recreation resource system.
Berrier, D. 1. 1984.
Minnesota's new cross-country skiing program.
Paper presented at Conference on Fees for Outdoor Recreation on
symposium, School of Forestry and W11011fe Resources, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA
April 19, 1984.
Cordell, H. K., and Hendee, J. C. 1982.
Recreation in the United States: Supplye Demande and Critical
journal ef Environmental Education 8(2):21-29.
of Reward: New Perspectives on the Psychology of Human
Driver, B. L. 1984.
Public responses to user fees.
at Conference on Fees for Outdoor Recreation on Lands Open to
Durham, NH, January 1, 2, and 3.
Dustin, D. Loe McAvoy, b. H. and Schultz, J. H.
Gibson, P. J. 1979. Therapeutic aspects of wilderness programs.
Therapeutic Recreation Journal 13(3):21-33.
Kelly, J. R. 1982.
Leisure. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall,
McDonald, C. D., Hammitt, W. E. and Dottavio, F. D. 1985.
individual's willingness to pay for a river visit. Paper
Rouge, LA, Louisiana State University, October 30-Nov 3, 1984.
Musgrave, R. A. 1959.
The Theory of Public Finance: A Study in
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.