Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA)

Summary

 

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act was passed in the 2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill signed into law by President Bush on December 8, 2004.

 

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act benefits visitors to Federal public lands by:

 

  • Reinvesting a majority of fees back to the site of collection to enhance visitor services and reduce the backlog of maintenance needs for recreation facilities (including trail maintenance, toilet facilities, boat ramps, hunting blinds, interpretive signs and programs);
  • Providing an interagency fee program that reduces confusion over differing fee programs and passes by reducing four national passes down to one.
  • Providing more opportunities for public involvement in determining recreation fee sites and fees;
  • Providing focused criteria and limits on areas and sites where recreation fees can be charged; and
  • Providing more opportunities for cooperation with gateway communities through fee management agreements for visitor and recreation services, emergency medical services and law enforcement services.

 

Many recreation activities and sites will continue to be free. The Act includes additional provisions that build on experiences from the Fee Demo program and improve the fee program by clarifying the circumstances in which fees may be charged. The Act prohibits certain fees for:

 

  • General access to national forests and grasslands and Bureau of Land Management areas;
  • Horseback riding, walking through, driving through, or boating through areas where no facilities or services are used;
  • Access to overlooks or scenic pullouts;
  • Undesignated parking areas where no facilities are provided for
  • Picnicking along roads or trails; and
  • In addition individuals under 16 will not be charged an entrance or standard amenity fee.

 

REA applies to Federal recreation lands under the jurisdiction of the following land management agencies:

 

  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • All agencies except the Bureau of Reclamation have had fee authority under Fee Demonstration program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act.
  • The Act authorizes the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture for the next 10 years to establish, modify, charge and collect recreation fees at Federal recreation lands and waters as provided for in the Act

 

Possible Fees as identified in the Act

 

The Act enables Forests and Grasslands to have three types of fees called Standard, Expanded and Special Recreation Permits.

  Standard fees are typical day use fees. Sites or areas must have specific features and amenities in order to qualify as a fee site.

  Expanded fees are fees that provide direct benefits to individuals or groups. They include things like developed campgrounds, cabin rentals, highly developed boat docks and swimming areas. They may also include services like hookups, dump stations, special tours and reservations services.

   Special Recreation Permits are for areas where natural and cultural resources need protection or where extra measures are required for the health and safety of visitors. Permits may be required for places like wilderness areas, shooting ranges and specialized trail systems.

 

The America the Beautiful Pass

 

The Act expands the National Park Pass by authorizing a new America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass.

 

  This pass will cover entrance fees and standard amenity recreation fees for all Federal recreation lands and waters where a fee is charged.

 

  Existing National Park passes, Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and Golden Access passes will be grandfathered in under their existing benefits and will remain valid until expired. These passes will continue to be sold until the new pass is available.

 

  Site specific and regional passes such as the Adventure Pass for National Forests in Southern California will remain valid and will continue to be available under this Act.

 

 

REA provides for a high level of public involvement in determining new fee areas and fee schedules by:

 

        Implementing the use of Recreation Resource Advisory Committees (RACs) for national forest and BLM sites and areas to give communities additional opportunities to provide input on the implementation of a fee or the establishment of a specific recreation fee site;

        Providing additional opportunities for public participation and prior notice prior to a new fee being established; and

        Communicating with the visiting public on how fee revenues are being spent to improve visitor facilities and services.

 

Implementation of the Act

 

  • Each fee project that was previously authorized under the Fee Demonstration Program begun in 1996 will be evaluated to ensure that it meets the criteria defined in the Act.
  • Where fee programs are determined to not meet the provisions of the Act, changes will be made.
  • The Fee Leadership Council, an interagency group created in 2002 to facilitate coordination and consistency among high level officials of the Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture, will oversee implementation.
  • Additionally, the Departments will keep the public informed as changes are made to fees and passes during implementation through:

  Press releases

  Public notices and;

  Postings on our websites at www.doi.gov. and www.fs.fed.us/passespermits/