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About Recreation Fees

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More and more people recreate on national forests and grasslands every year. Meeting the increasing needs of these visitors, delivering quality recreation, heritage and wilderness opportunities, and protecting natural resources has become challenging.

To help address this issue, President Bush signed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA). The Act permits federal land management agencies to continue charging modest fees at campgrounds, rental cabins, and at day use sites that have certain facilities. The Act defined the following fee categories:

Standard Amenity Fees

Examples: Picnic areas, developed trailheads, destination visitor centers

Explanation: Typically, standard amenity fees are day use fees, often covered by a day or annual pass. Each site or area must contain six "amenities," which are picnic tables, trash receptacle, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

Expanded Amenity Fees

Examples: Campgrounds, highly developed boat launches and swimming areas, cabin or lookout rentals. Services like hookups, dump stations, special tours, transportation systems and reservation services.

Explanation: Provides direct benefits to individuals or groups.

Special Recreation Permits

Examples: Shooting ranges, special events, specialized trail systems

Explanation: Permits are issued when extra measures are required for natural and cultural resource protection, or the health and safety of visitors. They may also be used to disperse recreation use or help ensure that the number of visitors does not exceed the capacity of the land.


Recreation Enhancement Act Information

The previous Recreation Fee Demonstration program was enacted by Congress in 1996. In December 2004, Congress enacted the Recreation Enhancement Act, which gave federal agencies a long-term, multi-agency recreation fee program. Recreation fees provide crucial resources that allow the federal agencies to respond to increased demand on federal lands. The goal is to provide visitors with a quality recreation experience through enhanced facilities and services.

  • Recreation Fee Legislation Summary
  • Recreation Fee Legislation Text

Forest Service Guidelines

The Forest Service has developed implementation guidelines (175 KB PDF) that follow the Act and give direction on where and how fees can be charged.

Information Resources

Revenue and Expenditures

Public Involvement Guidance

  • Forest Service Public Involvement Strategy for Recreation Fees - October, 2006 (22 KB PDF)
  • Interagency Public Involvement Guidelines for Recreation Fees - September 28, 2005 Federal Register Notice (50 KB PDF)

Recreation Resource Advisory Committees

Program Audits

  • 2006 General Accounting Office Report
  • 2003 General Accounting Office Report

US Forest Service
Last modified March 29, 2013

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