USDA Forest Service
Joe Walsh, 202-205-1134
FEE CHANGES IMPROVE SERVICE, BENEFIT THE LAND
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2000 -- USDA
Forest Service recreation fee demonstration projects,
changed and improved during the year in response
to visitor suggestions, showed increased revenues
in fiscal 1999, according to the annual interagency
report to Congress.
Each national forest that collects demonstration
project fees keeps at least 95 percent of those
fees to provide its visitors with more enjoyable
experiences at campgrounds, trails, and other recreation
Forest Service fee demonstration revenues climbed
to $26.5 million from 81 projects around the country
in fiscal 1999, up from $20.8 million at 67 sites
in fiscal 1998. The Forest Service has spent 74
percent of all fees collected from fiscal 1996 to
fiscal 1999 on improvements and maintenance of the
natural resource, facilities, and services. Recreation
managers are planning how best to spend the remaining
funds efficiently and effectively.
The fee demo program is working better and
better, said Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck.
The Forest Service has worked hard over the
past year to make this system more visitor-friendly,
and Im proud of our accomplishments.
Some of the changes begun in fiscal 1999 include:
- Consolidating 12 fees in Oregon and Washington
into one pass system that will be effective in
April 2000. As a first step, most Forest Service
fee passes in those states are reciprocal.
- Southern California instituted eight free days
during the year, and made several road corridors
- The Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho changed
from a per person pass for access on much of the
forest to a per vehicle pass for parking at 28
designated trailheads, leaving many areas open
- The Oregon Coastal Pass is a collaborative effort
among the Forest Service, BLM, National Park Service,
and State of Oregon, and allows for one pass to
be good at all recreation sites along the Oregon
- Free days or areas are in effect to encourage
more visits by low income users; volunteers receive
free passes at some projects; annual pass systems
reduce per-visit costs; and improved information
on where to recreate is provided.
Approved by Congress in 1996, the Recreation Fee
Demonstration Program allows four land management
agencies to charge a nominal fee for recreational
use of federal lands. Congress has since extended
the demonstration program until Sept. 30, 2001.
Each agency can establish up to 100 demonstration
projects. Where and how to collect fees is left
to each agency and project. Some Forest Service
projects are entirely within one forest, while others
include several forests, and some forests have more
than one project. In some projects, the Forest Service
is working with another agency to make the fees
easier on the public.
The report to Congress, a fact sheet and other
information is available on the World Wide Web at