« PreviousContinue »
This is in reply to your July 9, 1985, letter to Mr. James Cook, Chief of the Division of Water and Land, that provided an additional question to be answered for the record of the June 27, 1985, oversight hearing on recreation fees by the Subcommittee on Public Lands, Reserved Water and Resource Conservation.
The answer is provided on the enclosed page. The person knowledgeable about this information 18 Edward R. Harris, 343–5204.
Robert a Olson
Oversight Hearing on Recreation Fees
1. Please outline the Bureau of Reclamation's current policy on recreation fees? Is the Bureau supportive of the OMB's 25% recovery proposal?
The Bureau of Reclamation's policy is to charge fees at recreation areas where services are provided above the basic or minimum facilities level and where collection 18 economically and administratively feasible but not prohibited by the restrictions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, as amended, and the Federal Water Projects Recreation Act, as amended.
The Bureau of Reclamation supports the concept of cost recovery. We believe that our agency should be able to do better than OMB's 25 percent goal at many areas if the restrictive language pertaining to fees is removed from the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act and the Federal Water Projects Recreation Act.
We believe, however, that a meaningful revision of the Federal recreation fee program should provide that fees may be retained by the collecting agency for recreation OMR&I (operation, maintenance, replacement and improvement) use. This is a logical way to help ens ure that the Nation's existing recreation resource base is protected. Reductions in revenues collected due to the cost of processing the funds to the central Treas ury would be eliminated. Also, we believe the users will be more supportive if they know the fees are going to be used to maintain the areas they use. Federal agencies should be permitted to assess fees similar to those charged by other recreation management entities in the area on the basis of the service provided to the
If, on the other hand, the Congress determines fees should continue to be regarded as general revenues not available to the collecting agency, the agency should be permitted to deduct collection costs.
QUESTIONS FROM SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC LANDS, RESERVED WATER
Question 1. Is the Administration's 25% recovery proposal feasible for the Forest Service? Answer: With the estimated revenue from the proposals that we recommended during the oversight hearing along with total other recreation revenues from current authorities, the Forest Service would be able to recover at least 25% of our recreation costs from recreation users.
Question 2. Would you support a proposal to charge fees for hunting and Fishing in the National Forests? Answer: We do not believe that a recreation fee bill should include a proposal to charge fees to hunt and fish. Licensing for these should remain in State control. If a person hunting or fishing uses a fee site, they should pay the fee for the use of that site like all other users.
Question 3. Should the prohibition on charging entrance fees for National Forests be lifted? If so, how would they be collected? Would persons living in or around the Forests be exempt from these charges? Answer: We are not recommending that entrance fees should be charged on the National Forests. We do not believe that implementation of an entrance fee program with gates at the entrances to National Forest System lands is practical because of the multiple entrances and extent of private land within the National Forests. We are proposing that user fees be authorized for areas where special facilities or services are available. There may be areas of concentrated recreation use involving a number of fee facilities or other special management provisions where it may be appropriate to charge one fee for the use of the area.
Question 4. Do you feel that the criteria for charging user fees contained in the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act as amended are too stringent? Answer: Yes. We have many recreation sites that require significant costs for operation and maintenance where we are prohibited from charging fees. In many cases where we charge fees during the summer we are unable to charge a fee during other times of the year because the water system must be turned off to prevent freezing. All the rest of the facilities are available but a charge is currently prohibited when the drinking water is not available. Another example is a boat-in campground that has all the facilities required by law except roads so we are unable to charge a fee. At many picnic grounds we incur high costs for operation and maintenance. Many are adjacent to fee campgrounds. The user of one type of facility must pay and the user of the other does not, even though they both use the same type of facilities and enjoy the same type of services. We believe that the prohibitions in Section 4. (b) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, as amended, should be deleted.
We plan to continue to look at the long-range recreation program needs and opportunities. As a part of this review, we may well need to consider new ways beyond the proposals discussed at the hearing to support our outdoor recreation programs. We anticipate working closely with the President's Commission on Outdoor Recreation Review in their consideration of long-range recreation and funding needs.