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Fee Demo program's first step towards death. HOT!


 

by Editor

February 11, 2004

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

Everyone,
Fee Demo has been a hot topic for access to our forests and backcountry areas since it was introduced in 1996. This may not affect you directly today, but if it were made permanent, it would affect all of us considerably - and Mickey Mouse greeting me to go climbing in the South Platte just isn't something I really want to see.

If you haven't educated yourself on this topic, we highly recommend that you go to Google and read up on the organizations that both support and oppose this program, and its ramifications if made perpetual.

Congratulations today to those affected in the past few years by this program, particularly in the western states of Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. You made this happen. Thank you.


SENATE COMMITTEE REJECTS PERMANENT FEE DEMO FOR FOREST SERVICE, BLM, AND USFWS. PASSES BILL FOR NATIONAL PARKS ONLY.

Grassroots Effort Moves Parks Fee Legislation


In what is being called a 'remarkable victory,' opponents of the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program are today celebrating what they see as the beginning of the end of recreation fees on the National Forests and other public lands.

Despite enormous pressure from the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to make the Fee Demo program permanent for the National Parks, Forest Service, BLM, and US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee this morning unanimously voted to pass S. 1107, the Recreational Fee Authority Act (Senator Craig Thomas, R-WY), which makes recreation fees permanent for the National Parks only. The bill will allow Fee Demo to lapse for the BLM, US Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Fee-opponents in recent days had flooded Senate offices with faxes and phone calls, expressing their general acceptance of park fees and their adamant opposition to fees for recreation on lands managed by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Opponents of recreation user fees came together to prevent Thomas' legislation from being amended and to ensure that it would be moved out of committee as a 'parks only' bill. Gale Norton, Secretary of Interior, lobbied Senators hard in an effort to included permanent fee authority for the other three federal agencies within the Fee Demo program.

Senator Thomas and Senator Craig (R-ID), Chair of the public lands subcommittee, as well as all Senators on Committee, did an excellent job protecting their constituents ownership of these public lands, said Robert Funkhouser President of Western Slope NoFee Coalition.

"For a totally grassroots effort to prevail over the Secretary of Interior is an accomplishment of incredible proportion" said Scott Silver, Executive Director of Wild Wilderness and a long time opponent of the fee-demonstration program. "We went toe to- toe with some powerful players and, this time, the people won", adds Silver.

Jon Orlando, Statewide Coordinator of the Arizona NoFee Coalition stated "The Tide has turned, and with a growing groundswell for ending this ill-conceived recreation fee program, it is becoming clearer everyday that we will soon see the end of fees to take a hike in the woods."

The Fee Demo program in the Forest Service, BLM, and USFWS has been recognized as a failure in terms of public acceptance and financial viability. Recent administrative changes to enforcement procedures particularly within the BLM, such as increasing penalties for being on public land without a pass to $5,000, have fueled the growing Fee Revolt taking place across the nation.


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