Hundreds of day-use sites will be removed from the fee program
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service today announced significant adjustments to its recreation fee sites nationwide, removing hundreds of day use sites from the fee program, which will result in a higher quality recreation experience for the American public.
“Recreation on federal lands has grown tremendously over the past several years, and the rec-fee program has been a valuable tool for allowing forest managers to meet visitor demands for enhanced visitor facilities and services,” said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. “The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act raises the bar for sites to qualify for charging fees so that the public can enjoy more amenities at such sites.”
The REA, signed into law last December by President Bush, permits federal land management agencies to continue charging modest fees at campgrounds, rental cabins and other high-impact recreation areas on federal lands. The majority of fees are reinvested at the site where they were collected to operate, maintain and enhance service, such as trails, toilet facilities, boat ramps and interpretive exhibits.
Since then, all Forest Service units that charged recreation fees under the old fee demo program reviewed their current fee sites and determined whether or not their sites meet requirements as outlined under REA. As a result, approximately 500 day-use sites (like trailheads and picnic areas) will be removed this year from the program because they do not meet the qualifications of a fee site, which include having designated developed parking, a permanent toilet facility and security services.
The Forest Service will continue to implement the provisions of REA in a careful manner and in coordination with those who enjoy recreation activities to achieve the greatest degree of public satisfaction possible. The Act requires public involvement whenever changes occur in the fee program, and the establishment of Recreation Resource Advisory Councils, which will provide recommendations for establishing any new fees.
Millions of people each year visit their national forests and grasslands and the vast majority of all of the Forest Service’s services are free. In all, the Forest Service manages 193 million acres, including 122,000 campsites, 11,000 picnic sites, 133,000 miles of trail as well as many cabin rentals, boat launches and other facilities.
To find out about fee changes in your area, contact your local forest. For more information about the program, visitwww.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/